Monday, September 13, 2010

The Goat Hierarchy

The Queen!!!

 The very bottom of the Totem pole..
For Now...

 This line up is how things work here...
 Sunshine is the top goat in my herd. She is not the oldest Definitely not the biggest but she is queen. The Herd queen! Goats have a definite placement in the herd. That is figured out when new ones are added. Last year we added 3 doelings Sasha, Mariah and Abby. They were bottle babies and in with the other babies and kind of slid under the radar and were just there..
 When I first got goats of my own I had Sunshine and her twin sister. They were pals but Sunshine was boss. Then I brought in 4 new does one of them being April who is older than Sunshine but is more easy going. She is second in command though. No one crosses her much. NO ONE Crosses Sunshine period!lol
 So then after those 4 new ones of which I only have April now I added Dottie who was tough stuff but did not demand to be crowned queen or she may have given Sunshine a run for her money. Ethel(out of Dottie) and Hope(out of April) were born into the herd so they have an automatic place some where in the middle being some of the higher up's babies!
 So then we keep Pixy(out of Sunshine) and Kate(out of Hope). Pixy was automatically Princess! Everyone makes way for her when she is walking with her momma. When she is playing with the babies they give in to her. Kate gets a little sassy but always gives in to Pixy. But they are buds..
 When the goats go out into the field Sunshine leads them out.. If she gets spooked and runs back to the barn they all follow... If they are laying in their rocky place she lays farther up the hill watching everything from here spot she can see the back door to the house and the whole field.. When I feed grain she follows me to each feed pan and taste the grain and runs to the next one. Then goes back to the first pan to start eating..
 So then I bring in poor little Dollie.. It really is better to buy goats in pairs if possible so they have friend to dodge the Mean Girls with and some one to bed down with at night to help keep warm.  So until she bonds with some one she will be out in the cold if we aren't careful..
 My plan is that hopefully she will bond with Kate and Pixy while they are all 3 locked away while the buck is visiting.  Then in 2 months I will put them back out in the herd. Hopefully by then Dollie will have her sass back and be able to stand up to the Mean Girls. All she has to do is give in a few times after butting heads. Then all should be peaceful...... I can Hope!
 They just want to know that she is not there to take over or take their share of the food.  They are all coming into heat right now and are extra cranky! Mariah seems to have developed a bad habit of biting tails.. I cant blame her because when she started getting bigger last year Ethel had a bad habit of biting her ears to put her in her place! I just hope that Pixy and Kate don't pick on her to much..
 So you see a goat herd is a complicated thing..  They have a definite order to things and you DO NOT buck the system! When introducing a new goat that is of a capable size its better to just keep an eye from a reasonable distances because if you interfere to much it will just start all over again. Its better to just get it over with and hope it doesn't get to crazy.
 Sometimes its probably better if you put them in the new herd later at night when they are getting ready to bed down and not to interested in new goats. you have to watch the goats at the bottom because sometimes they don't get all the grain or hay they need. Because no matter how big of a hayrack you may have or no matter how many feed pans they can still get chased out. Then you may find them standing off by themselves and a stressed goat can be a sick goat in no time...
 So there you have it how The Goat Hierarchy works here on our little farm....

11 comments:

tree ocean said...

wow that was very well written! I think I love goats, lol. IN my herd and the farm herd it is wethers that are the leaders. My only hornless one that looks like Dottie - he will lead them all out after the hay and sometimes he gets it wrong and they all follow him around. LOL

The farm herd is being led across the lawn in the morning and it is the big ol goofy Jackson that leads them all. Today he balked and I had to escort them all the way. (and then go all the way back to close the gate, grr...)

My herd queen is Daphne. She actually welcomed the little boys last year gently butting horns (they were scared!lol). The other does... forget it, if they could get those boys they were going to get them good! (mine have horns!)They were the bosses of those little stinkers!

Your new one will be fine once your girls are settled. She'll have fun with the other little ones, too. :)

Brenda said...

Great post! I see this with my does all the time too. Lilah is my Herd Queen. If you give her attention first, then there is peace in the herd.

A few months ago Misty decided to challenge Lilah for the Queen position. They head butted and fought all day. I finally separated them in the evening by putting Misty in a stall in the barn. I thought they were going to kill each other. Neither of them could hardly catch their breath.

When I put Misty back out the next morning, the fight started back up again. Lilah quickly won and Misty backed down. The strangest thing happened next though.... each doe in the herd challenged Misty. She had to fight each of them. They were brutal with the butting and biting. I finally had to go sit by Misty in the goat yard so she could get some rest. I warned the other does to back off and they all settled down.

Misty and Lilah became good friends after that and Misty resumed her position as second in the herd. It's amazing how fast peace comes back to the herd when they have the positions all sorted out. No one else has ever challenged Lilah for her position though!

Feral Female said...

Well done! In my herd the queen is Francis who usurped her mother for the throne.

small farm girl said...

It happends like that with horses and cattle too.

~Tonia said...

Thank you everyone. While I have noticed there is some order to the cow herd I have never seen it so obvious as in the Goat herds. I have little horse experience.
Chickens have a certain order to just not as well organized as the goats.

Stone Cottage Mama said...

This is so funny. Chickens do the same too. I feel bad when one of them is snatched away by wild-life and they have to reorganize their "troop."

Love the name Queen. Gonna have to remember that one.

Rural Rambler said...

Tonia I know you will get it worked out for Dolly. She will find her place with your help. All those goat girls, like being back in grade school and trying to fit in. Or Not!

Nancy said...

Geese and goats must somehow be inter-related. Geese have a very definate hierarchy, but I haven't broken it down so perfectly as you. I have one goose who is an outcast -- probably a threat to the main gander -- and everyone chases him out of the pen before nighty-night time. So sad -- but that's how nature is. I hope Dollie gets fed up and headbuts the next higher up soon. It's a confidence builder. :)

Texan said...

That is so how it works! It took our herd I don't know how long to finally accept Liberty, the last doe I bought and brought into our herd. I was starting to wonder if the girls ever would. Sugarcube who is the smallest goat we have by far oddly is the Queen of our herd. Its a hoot, though lately I have noticed there has been some jostling going on. I think testing might be a better word. Anyway Sugarcube being the queen tolerated Liberty, but the rest it took them months to accept her and stop bullying her! Goats are a very clickish group are they not :O).

Shanster said...

"buck the system"... grin. No pun intended right? Herd dynamics is a complex beast! Good luck!!

Adirondackcountrygal said...

I enjoy watching horse herds in action too. At the barn I work at there is one herd with 5 horses and there is a Pinto mare who is is charge. When she comes through everyone makes way! She even goes after the cats! She gets the choice of hay piles too!