Goats are like potato chips… no one can have just one!
When my daughter decided to start a 4-H goat project, we went to a Central Iowa farm to look at kids. The farmer reminded that goats are gregarious animals that enjoy hanging out in pairs or groups just as sheep do. So that day I found myself writing a check for two doelings before loading both Gem and Jade into the trailer. For the past four years, these two female Boer goats have been the best of friends. Even as we’ve added more goats to our tribe, these two have remained nearly inseparable.
Goats bond with other goats, and they maintain strong bonds with family members. We experienced this first-hand two years ago when we weaned Nibbles’ daughter. Nibbles, my dad’s favorite goat, gave birth to Snickers in Greene at my parents’ place. When it was time to wean the young, we brought all the kids to Enchanted Acres where they spent the summer.
That fall we hauled the older goats back to my place, so our pumpkin patch visitors could enjoy feeding them. Even though Nibbles and Snickers had been separated, they instantly recognized one another after a three-month separation. Today you won’t find Snickers without Nibbles. They enjoy spending time together, whether they’re eating hay from the bunk or sunning themselves on the bridge.
The other dynamic duo in our barnyard is Ginger and Licorice. These girls were born last May, and they still enjoy playing with one another. Recently, I caught them playing king of the hill. Another time I saw them racing around the barnyard like it was a figure-8 race track. They’d chase each other and then jump up on a spool just for the fun of it. I wasn’t lucky enough to capture that escapade on video, but it sure gave me a chuckle.
Ginger and Licorice also enjoy eating together. One reason they’ve become mealtime pals is because the older goats push them away from the bunk. These littlest ones are definitely the subordinates in the yard.
Did you know that goats establish dominance based partly on the size of their horns and bodies? I’ve seen the social hierarchy change when does are introduced into the tribe. Flock dynamics are apparent in groups of four or more. One reason this structure forms is because goats, like sheep, must protect themselves from predators. They willingly follow a leader and flee in unison to avoid becoming prey.
Raising animals intrigues me. Honestly, I believe goats are more intelligent than generally regarded. Did you know they’ll come running when they’re called? They also can learn their names and can recognize familiar humans. There’s no doubt that Nibbles comes running when my dad calls for her. Well, right now she’s so heavy with babies that she waddles! Stay tuned… my next blog just may include baby goat (kid) pictures.
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