Today was a big day for the bucks (and us too). They got a paddock outside of their pen so they could browse and graze in the forest. Prior to today, I would chop down saplings and bring them fresh forage. Now they can harvest their own food.
With the bucks there's some worry about them escaping. We keep them outside the perimeter fence, so if they were to escape we're not too sure where they would end up. At least with the other animals we know they would be somewhere on our property. These boys could end up down the road if they got out. They are also much more difficult to control than the female dairy goats, so we generally keep them in their pen.
However, over the past few months they've gotten more comfortable and I've learned how to manage them a little bit better. I felt I could trust them not to run down I-40 to Nashville and am confident they would remain in or around their pen if they did escape. In fact, one time they busted through the fence and I found them right outside the pen browsing on some trees.
I set up a four strand polywire fence, ran a little chute out to their grazing cell and attached the wire to the electric fencing we ran across the top of their permanent pen. That way they always have access to their pen if they want it.
When I opened up the gate into the new paddock neither of them could believe it. They stood there, eating some hay, looking at me like I was crazy. I grabbed a branch with some leaves on it to entice them out. Slowly, George, the young Alpine, made his way out and started eating some rose bushes. Gozer, the older Nubian, couldn't believe his eyes. He ran around the pen and then under the shelter, hollering the whole time. It was pretty funny. Then he slowly made his way out and joined George.
Neither of them have tested the electric fence yet, so we don't know for sure what will happen when they do. My main fear is that they get zapped and start running and then leap over the fence on the other side. My hope is that they get zapped and just run back into the pen where they feel safe. I guess we'll find out!
Pretty soon it's breeding time, so it's good to get the bucks accustomed to new locations and being handled a little bit. We'll be putting the ladies near the buck pen over the next week to synchonize the female heat cycles. More to come on that tactic later. For now the bucks can enjoy their big day in the forest.