Wednesday, April 28, 2010
Goats are not supposed to be grazers. They are browsers, which means they prefer to eat leaves. I've recently learned that this is why they have more trouble with parasite resistance than sheep. For eons, sheep have been eating off the ground, so their systems can handle worms in their stomach and intestines. Goats have been eating from the trees since the beginning of time, and only recently we humans have tried to turn them into grazers. So, what can you do if you don't have a forest to feed your goats? You can move them to fresh pasture at least every five days.
I'm hoping I'll have time to share all my intestinal worm research with you, but for now, I've discovered why we've had such a tough time getting control over the parasites, even though we've been practicing rotational grazing. Several years ago, a vet professor at U of I told me that parasite eggs hatch in three weeks, so the goats need to be moved to fresh pasture sooner than that. Now I've read that they hatch in five days! And that comes from the Southern Consortium for Small Ruminant Parasite Control, which has been doing all the latest research on internal parasites, so they're pretty reliable. Besides, it actually makes more sense that the little buggers would hatch in five days. Three weeks for something microscopic to hatch sounds crazy. Fly eggs hatch in 24 hours. Chicken eggs take three weeks!
So, now that the grass is growing again, we're moving the bucks around our yard to eat our grass. We use the ElectroNet from Premier in Iowa. When it abuts our permanent fence, we hook it up to that. Otherwise, we use a solar charger. Now that we know how often the goats need to be moved, maybe we'll get better control of the parasite problem.