Training goats to follow
"I noticed you referred to taking/leading your goats into the woods
do you get your goats to follow? Do you have very many? I have
twelve. They do not always follow...even with a bucket of food. I want
to rotate them on pasture, but for their safety, we have to pen them at
night (coyotes, neighboring dogs, etc.). Let's just say, I have 8
children and when we try to get them into the pasture/pen it can be
quite the prospect for America's Funniest Home Video. I would love to
know if you have a trick."
--- K Hill
The first thing I taught
Abigail was how to walk on a leash. This involved a bit of pulling, but
mostly holding grain in my hand just out of nose reach each time she
stopped moving. Goats are smart. Soon, Abigail was nearly as well
leash-trained as Lucy is (although our goat gets much more recalcitrant
when she knows I'm about to lock her back in her boring pasture).
My guess would be that, if you can figure out who the lead goat is, leash training that goat might
do the trick. But I've obviously never worked with a dozen goats. And
Artemesia is willing to trot along at my heels whether or not Abigail is
on the leash --- I think she was a bottle baby, and she adores humans.
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Unlike Artemesia, Abigail
has a mind of her own, but I can usually get her to obey by using goat
psychology. Lately, I've been taking Abigail out into the woods san
leash, which works well because she knows I'm going to lead her to
something tasty, and because she hates being left behind alone.
(Artemesia, if giving the choice, follows me rather than Abigail.)
The trouble comes when we
return to the coop, since Abigail would far rather keep exploring the
woods rather than get shut back up. If I'm in a hurry, I'll snap on a
leash to make sure Abigail doesn't get her panties in a twist about the
end of walktime, but I'm also working on training her to behave there
too. My method involves taking Artemesia off somewhere so that Abigail
can't see us, then Abigail freaks out, thinking she's been abandoned by
her entire herd, and she starts sticking much closer to my heels in the
That method isn't
foolproof yet, though --- the last time Abigail came galloping down off
the hill with me and Artemesia...and then ran right past us to a new
patch of honeysuckle within sight line of the coop. She figured she
could graze, Artemesia could get shut in, and we'd all be happy. So I've
got a bit more work ahead of me there.
I'd be curious to hear
from others who have worked with bigger goat herds than I have. Do you
have tips for getting your goats to follow where you lead?