Baby Goats on Pasture

Goat babies and their portable taco truck shelter

Y'all are due for an update on the baby goats. It's been a while!

Almost three months into their little lives they are all wonderfully happy and healthy. Our final tally was 7 doelings and 3 bucklings. We are retaining all the doelings to grow our milking herd and we're also retaining one of the bucklings to serve as a herd sire next year. The other two bucklings are available for sale, so shoot us an email if you're interested (, both come from great milk lines and would make excellent herd sires. One is an Alpine and the other is a Nubian.

Until recently, we had been training the goat kids to the electric fencing by rotating them around our front and back yards. The grass is shorter in the yard and we can keep an eye on them a lot easier. After grazing all day we would put them back in the pen where they would spend the night. We used a pen/barn area at night to keep them safe since they didn't have a guard dog with them.

But now they're big kids and they turned into voracious foragers. Our lawn just wasn't cutting it for them and they were proving to be well-trained to the electric fence. All they needed was a portable shelter and we could have them out in the fields, rotationally grazing just like the big goats.

I went on Craigslist and found a trailer that had been in the process of conversion into a "food truck" of sorts, but never quite made it. It was a guy's pet project for making a portable food trailer for his family's BBQ's, but he just didn't have the time to finish it out. It just so happens the unfinished food truck projects also make excellent portable goat housing. So I snapped it up and now the kids have their own taco truck. I love watching them pile out of it, it's like a clown car, only it's baby goats jumping out of a pseudo-taco truck, which is far more entertaining than creepy clowns.

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Rotationally Grazing Pigs

You've probably noticed that we're big fans of rotational grazing. The goats, the cows, and now the pigs are all rotated around our property inside their own electric fences. While gaining in popularity, this method of livestock management is very uncommon. Yet it makes a lot of sense, if you have the time and resources to make it happen. 

Rotational grazing ensures that the animals are not living and eating amongst their own excrement. It also ensures they have fresh grass to eat everyday. In addition, the land benefits by getting some rest in between grazing periods. The farm (and the farmer) benefits by having healthier and happier animals. It's an all around winner, but it takes the time and motivation to make it happen.

Rotationally Grazing Pigs on Pasture

Rotationally grazing the pigs makes a lot of sense. Those little rooters will get their snouts running and completely destroy perfectly good pasture in no time flat. They have to be moved frequently and the land needs a long time to rest and recover.

Currently, our two gilts are rotating through new pasture every 2-3 days. They are allocated a small parcel of pasture that is dense with unwanted forages (i.e. broomesedge and other less-nutritious 'weeds'). As you can see in the pictures, they literally eat everything in sight. People seem to be surprised that a pig would clean it up that well.

First, the pigs start with the roots. They slowly unearth the entire plant and then proceed to munch down the roots. Next come the stems and leaves. After a couple days the paddock will turn into a mud puddle, especially if we get a little (or a lot) of rain.

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Pastured Pigs - Act One - At Last

The girls enjoying the broomsedge. They love broomsedge roots, a new benefit to that "noxious weed"!

We've long detailed the onboarding experience of the Ossabaw pigs at Little Seed Farm. What was once envisioned as pigs rooting through the pasture quickly turned into a pallet-pen welcome package that was to last for many months. The escape (and general rowdiness) of the piglets made me question whether Ossabaws could ever work on pasture. If not, they weren't going to fit in the system we envisioned for our pork operation and they'd all be eaten, sold, or cross-bred.

So as the pigs grew fatter and gained experience in their wise old age I tested and monitored them. I already knew that as young pigs they were scared and excitable. Being Ossabaws (a still feral breed), that's to be expected. Each day I would get in the pen with the pigs to feed them and pet them. Luckily, they still ranged in the 25-100# weight-class and weren't yet big enough to really mess with me if they felt like it.

By the time November rolled around I was feeling very comfortable that the pigs knew and respected the electric fencing and that they knew (and not quite respected) me. They were ready for the ultimate "electric-fence-only" test. I am planning to breed the pigs in January, so I figured I might as well wait until then to set them loose inside an electric-fence-only paddock and risk the chance of them escaping. 

But as usual things didn't quite go according to plan. Also as usual, things turned out alright in the end.

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