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Four-legged Mowers

Skippy Cosmo Chompy

Eating macnut branches We have three goats:  Skippy, Cosmo and Chompy.  Skippy is the oldest by a couple months and still slightly larger than the other two so he's the boss.  Cosmo is the shaggy one and he can be rebelious at times.  Chompy is the all white one, he's at the bottom of the pecking order and quite gregarious.  They're all wethers (castrated males) with their horns removed so they're friendly and easy to handle.  The girls and their friends love to play with the goats.

The original concept was that the goats would function as four legged mowers.  We figured they would stay in the macadamia nut orchard and help trim down the areas that are too difficult to reach with the mower.  We were hoping to avoid a repeat of this incident.

License plate Goats aren't good with coffee trees because they eat all the coffee.  In fact, it was supposedly a goat herder that first discovered coffee.  He noticed that his goats jumped around and acted all hyper after eating coffee berries and figured "I gotta get me some of that!"  I can't vouch for the goat herder's insight but I can attest that goats love to eat coffee.  Goats love to eat just about everything.

I don't want the goats eating my coffee trees but I don't mind if they eat the macadamia nut trees.  Macadamia nuts have the thickest shell of all nuts.  Pigs and rats can eat the macadamia nuts (that's a whole other topic I don't even want to get started on) but few other animals can break through the shell.  The goats mostly like to eat the branches.  In the mac nut orchard that's a good thing because they help keep the trees trimmed up high enough that I can walk underneath.  We take the goats out to the mac nut orchard in the mornings then bring them back to their pen by the house at night.

Fencing

Goats love to climb and they love to ram and push on things.  That combination makes them excellent escape artists.  When our goats were younger the three foot fence I had hastily erected in the yard was enough to keep them in.  Now that they're older they can climb right over that fence without hesitation.  The goats had found and learned to exploit every weak spot in every fence we have.  We had loose goats wandering the yard, eating everything in site, pooping everywhere and even finding their way into the house.  It was time for some serious fence renovation.

It took two days and $200 but the goat pen now has a five foot fence that should hold the wildest of goats.  I spent another couple days fixing the electric fence around the mac nut orchard.  I put in a new gate and relocated part of the electric fence (hopefully I'll stop driving the tractor through it now).  After wiring everything together and pulling it all tight, it seems to work great now.

Electric Fence An electric fence is considered a psychological barrier.  When it's off animals can usually find their way through it easily.  When it's on animals quickly learn to stay away from it.  The fence can put out up to 8000 volts.  That's one heck of a shock.  Harmless but very, very memorable.  When overgrown with weeds the fence looses its effectiveness.  Anything below 3000 volts doesn't work too well.  As you can see in the picture the fence is at 6,100 volts.  The goats can still get through the fence if they're being chased but they'll normally stay away from it.

We're short on electrical outlets so the fence gets turned off any time I'm using power tools for barn construction.  The fence doesn't need to be on to keep the goats in because they've already learned to stay away from the fence.  The problem with turning the fence off is that other animals can get in.  Wild pigs will eat all the macadamia nuts if I let them.  We've also had problems with loose neighborhood dogs.  With all the new fencing now, we shouldn't have any more unwanted guests or loose goats.  The goats can go about their jobs as four-legged mowers in peace.

Herding Goats



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