We took the goats on their first pasture walk today. While they have a nice size area to browse and forage during the day, it's really not enough diversity for the goats and we'd like them to get accustomed to browsing in the pastures. The plan is to rotationally graze the herd once we get more goats, the electric fencing and some form of mobile shelter and feed/watering arrangement in place.
When I say "rotationally graze" I'm referring to the controlled movement of the goats around the farm to specific areas for specific amounts of time. This will allow us to monitor forage consumption, provide adequate forage regrowth time, and also limit parasite reproduction. By moving the goats on a regular basis the plants can regrow, the parasite cycle is broken without a host, and we have a better ability to optimize browse and pasture consumption. Rotationally grazing has many benefits that we hope to exploit, these are just a few. However, rotationally grazing dairy goats is a rare proposition and it isn't nearly as well-developed of a practice as it is for grazing cattle, so it's a bit of an experiment for us. Most goat operations either provide free access to pastures (i.e. continuous grazing, not rotational), or inadequate access to pasture/browse at all. We think neither of those options are optimal, so we're going down a different path. This year we'll be taking baby steps to see how it works. Today was the first step, albeit a very small one.
At first we took the goats out on leads. We were pretty sure they wouldn't bolt on us, but you never know!
Then we decided that was silly, so we let them off the leads
BUT, I got some more photos along the walk of other stuff that's pretty good too.
Including, the now 10-15lbs larger Sophie enjoying her time with the goats (glad they're getting along)
We also discovered a small tree with HUGE thorns. It reminded us of our blog friends and fellow beginning farmers at From City to Farm who had an unfortunate encounter with a similarly sized thorn. I didn't think we had anything like it around us, guess I was wrong!
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