March 13, 2013

Hello Pasture

Lily, Surprise, and Ziggy

The other day I let the girls into the new pasture for the first time. It was for about 10 or 15 minutes, just enough time to give them a taste without upsetting their tummies. Ruminants can have problems with fresh pasture when first introduced to it, specifically bloat. This has to do with their digestive microbes. Changes in diet must be slow to allow for changes in the microbes too.

Even though we planted the pasture last October, I hadn't let them in until now. This was partly to give the tender new growth a chance to establish itself, but also because we've had so much rain that the ground has been very soft and soggy. The day before yesterday, however, it had dried out somewhat and so I let them in for a brief visit. They loved it. I timed it right before evening feed, so that they'd be willing to come out when I called them!

I'd already introduced the fresh forage as "green feed," where I cut big basketsful of the pasture grasses and dumped it into their hay feeder. Later I increased it to twice a day. Before I actually let them into it, I made sure they'd just had a hay feeder full of a new armload of hay. I also made sure their baking soda feeder was fresh and that they got probiotics with their evening grain ration. All of that may have been overly cautious on my part, but I definitely do not want any problems.

The next day I increased their visit by another ten minutes. So far so good. I'll gradually increase it to full time because this must be their home pasture this summer.

For more information and several good articles about bloat, including how to treat it, the following are helpful resources:

Hello Pasture © March 2013 

27 comments:

Pam said...

They sure look happy and better to be safe.....for sure! We want to expand our fencing this year too. :)

Jacquelineand.... said...

It's definitely far wiser to move them into it slowly. I never leave your blog without learning something new and useful; thanks for that!

The Squirrel Family said...

They sure look at home in that field

Can I ask what the baking soda does?

Leigh said...

Pam, good to hear from you! Does wanting to expand your fence mean you have more goats??? :)

Jacqueline, and thank you for the comment! I confess I learn a lot by writing. I always want to make sure my information is correct and give you all good links. :)

The Squirrel Family, welcome! And thank you for the comment. Good question. Goats' digestion systems actually ferment what they eat, a service performed by their resident digestive microbes. The danger of sudden feed changes, is that the microbes won't be able to keep up. Improper digestion can cause a build-up of gas (bloat) that can't be burped or otherwise expelled quickly enough. It can also cause rapid changes to digestive pH, making their systems too acidic (acidosis). Both problems can be life threatening. The baking soda allows the goat to regulate their own intestinal pH, which helps avoid problems.

Stephanie said...

Oh I bet they were some happy goats! The pasture looks fabulous :)

Theresa said...

Wise to do it in later afternoon. The sugars are highest in the morning after dew and cooler temps overnight. Putting horses out onto green spring pastures causes all sorts of problems too and must be done slowly also. Again, best to do it in the afternoon after the sun has dried things out and the high sugar content is lowered a bit.
I avoid the whole issue all together. The horses are on dry lot.

Farmer Barb said...

I must address a couple of things. 1. When I saw the tree lined green field with the lovely goats on it, I swooned. 2. Goat school 101: Don't kill the goats with the forage just because you have it. I have friends who killed two bunnies that way. They didn't know about intestinal flora. 3. I feel empowered. I feel I can do it, too!

YEA!

Carolyn said...

Wow, that looks so green & YUMMY! All that hard work finally paid off. I'm jealous; we're still working on the fence for our pasture.

The Squirrel Family said...

That makes sense I suppose re: baking soda. My neighbour keeps goats and treats them with homeopathy and with natural remedies I will ask her if she knows of this tip

Thanks for visiting my blog and your kind comment

daisy said...

Never knew that goats took probiotics!

Julie Pauley said...

I love seeing your pictures. I never knew you had to watch what they ate. Since a goat at Sea World ate my Grandmothers sweater...I just thought they could eat anything:) I really love your blog.

The Weekend Homesteader said...

The pasture is looking great, and as always, I learned something new!

Pam said...

Thank you, Leigh and Yes, going to look at some nubians that have just been weaned, so time will tell.....lol! :)

Megan said...

Wow! That is an incredible involved process! I always love seeing what it looks like to take care of animals, having always lived in some sort of suburban/urban area. Your pasture looks beautiful!

Sherri B. said...

It is so nice to see the pasture all green and the girls out there enjoying it! Seems like yesterday that you were sharing with us about seeding it! xo

Leigh said...

Stephanie, the were ecstatic goats!

Theresa, I hadn't found that info, thanks! I did read that fresh legumes are a concern for cattle folk.

Barb, what a heartbreakingly hard way to learn! Brings new meaning to "killing with kindness." And yes, you can do this!

Carolyn, three years ago this month we were still working on our first fence. We all make it one step at a time!


Squirrel Family, I'd be interested if your neighbor has another remedy as well. One can never learn too much. :)

Daisy, you can actually buy them at the feed store or Tractor Supply that way. :)

Julie, thanks! Too funny about your grandmother's sweater. Goats are actually like human babies, everything goes into the mouth. On occasion, some of it gets eaten!

Candace, homesteading is an education, isn't it? :)

Pam, ooo, does that mean Kinders in your future as well? :)

Megan, the hardest part was doing the research to make sure I knew what I was doing. The doing of it is actually pretty simple. :)

Sherri, a very long yesterday, LOL

Pam said...

Well maybe....lol! We are probably going to get two does...;).

A View From A Brown Dog said...

Lots of work but now the pasture looks great and your goats look wonderful wondering out there! Like a painting. Yes, must go slowly not to upset those bellies. Love how you plan everything even when to turn them out to ensure a quick return.

Have a great day!

CaliforniaGrammy said...

Oh my gosh they must have thought they'd died and gone to heaven! The pasture is beautiful and I know those goats are gonna have smiles on their faces come summertime.

Nina said...

Your photo is so green and beautiful. I'm quite envious that it's spring already in your neck of the woods. We had snow this morning again, so much so that the snowploughs were out. I'm happy that they were out dealing with the stupid snow, but it's the middle of March and I am so very ready for spring!

Pretty goats who will be happy with such a nice pasture later this year!

Leigh said...

Pam, do you still have your Pygmys?

Jen, thanks! I don't know if it's planning so much as worry, LOL. I've learned a lot about goats and goat keeping, from reading, research, and experience. Not all of it has been good experience either, so I want to make extra sure to do a good job for their sakes.

Janice, they love it!

Nina, I've fussed over that pasture because we didn't have enough manure for nitrogen. I've had to keep an eye out for nitrogen hungry spots and give them a boost. In the next few years we'll have the soil tested again, and add whatever else it needs.

Michelle said...

It's so lush and beautiful! I'm totally jeaous. I bet your girls are having a heyday!

Ours WILL be fenced this spring/summer. We have half the materials already bought. The rest will be purchased with our income tax refund. Then installation can commense as soon as the weather warms up enough. (Fence installed in cool weather tends to sag.) I can't wait!!!

DFW said...

The pasture looks great Leigh! Patience is truly a virtue & it pays off as well.

Sue said...

Lucky girls! My pasture is still at least a month away; it's just starting to green up a little and isn't growing yet. So jealous of all the green you have!

Leigh said...

Michelle, I didn't know that about fence. How cool is cool? We just put it up when we can and goats leaning into it to scratch their sides seem to stretch it, LOL

DFW, that's why they call it the slow life. :)

Sue, I confess, I planted winter grasses: annual rye, wheat, and oats. I figure if we can offer year round grazing, so much the better.

Mama Pea said...

Oh, my! Spring time has come to your area! How different our parts of the country are. We won't see green like that until May!

Your goats are lucky to have you as their keeper. No tummy aches for them!

Tanya @ Lovely Greens said...

Bless, they look like they're loving the fresh green grass :)