The Walden Effect: Farming, simple living, permaculture, and invention.

The utility of a wether

Dwarf Nigerian wether

Meet Edgar, named after Edgar Allen Poe.

Skittish goat

Yes, we decided to keep him. In part, this was just the course of least resistance. By the time I'd stopped crying at the drop of a hat, Aurora had accepted the newcomer into her herd...although she's still chasing him away from any source of food unless I give her something more tasty to keep her occupied.

Floppy-eared goat

But, mostly, Edgar is part of my plan to change several of my goatkeeping methods to prevent another disaster like the one we recently lived through. While many factors were likely at play, I think my biggest management error with Artemesia was thinking I could leave a four-month-old kid with her mother and think the former would be weaned naturally before her high-production mother used up all of her fat and stored nutrients to feed a growing kid.

Now, I mostly fell into that trap because I was too sick to pay attention and didn't realize Aurora was still nursing. But I also didn't really have many other choices at the time. With only two goats in the herd, they had to stay together for the sake of everyone's sanity.

Tiny goat

Adding a wether gives me more options. Assuming we do find another doe to increase our herd to three, a kid or kids could be separated to hang out with Edgar while their mother recuperated from heavy-duty milk production. A boy kid could be kept around longer using the same technique without worrying he'd impregnate his mother or sisters. And I have a feeling that a herd of more than two goats will also be less scared of predators and more able to keep their cortisol levels low.

Yes, you read all that right. We're adding a boy to our herd as a nanny goat. Of course that won't be confusing. Right?

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About us: Anna Hess and Mark Hamilton spent over a decade living self-sufficiently in the mountains of Virginia before moving north to start over from scratch in the foothills of Ohio. They've experimented with permaculture, no-till gardening, trailersteading, home-based microbusinesses and much more, writing about their adventures in both blogs and books.

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Yes, you read all that right. We're adding a boy to our herd as a nanny goat. Of course that won't be confusing. Right?

Breaking traditional gender boundaries can be confusing; doesn't mean you shouldn't do it. :^)

Comment by irilyth Fri Feb 24 10:25:21 2017
How about calling him your "manny goat?" Good idea to have a companion for Aurora to give you time and flexibility of choice.
Comment by Rhonda from Baddeck Fri Feb 24 15:10:21 2017
I'm glad he's staying, and I'm sure Aurora is too. :)
Comment by Chris Fri Feb 24 16:48:59 2017
I think that's a very sensible plan. Since my wether died a couple of months ago, I've greatly missed him for many reasons. But one of the main reasons is just what you were talking about, he was easy to mix with any of the other goats. If I have a buckling born this spring (and most likely will) I'll wether him and keep him.
Comment by Another Julie Fri Feb 24 19:00:58 2017
Think you need a bigger "goat house".
Comment by Gerry Fri Feb 24 20:52:39 2017

Well, since you seem determined to keep goats, so I applaud your decision to keep Edgar. As you mentioned, it does increase your options, and in the least intensive way. I have never had dairy goats, just my two wethers I use to keep the brush at bay. But they don't need expensive nutrients or hay (in my area at least), and their disposition... a bit... capricious... like eternal 5th graders.

If you must have goats, a companion wether is a good addition.

Comment by Eric in Japan Sat Feb 25 11:36:42 2017

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