Goats eat everything right? Well they always do in kid's story books, including the washing off the line, so why did we end up with such a FUSSY eater? Meet Maddie - the world's fussiest goat. Back in early Feb she won a BAA (Best Animal Award!) for her fussiness but I have to say she has got even worse since then.
A little history
Maddie came to us somewhat unexpectedly before Christmas. She had been abandoned at the holiday home of a friend of a friend. She was there when he came over in early summer and still there when he returned 6 months later. He needed her moved on so she ended up here, very thin but otherwise in good heath. At first she ate fine - slowly nibbling the grass and weeds in her pen, wolfing down sheep/goat nuts but refusing hay. Well, refusing hay until I lobbed some in her pen that was meant as bedding and she scoffed that. Did she eat it a day later? No! A friend then suggested we could give her soaked sugar beet pulp and crushed barley to help put some weight on her and that was fine until one day she refused that. Crushed barley was all she'd eat plus an anorexic amount of hay. Cabbages were good so long as they were hung up but as soon as they hit the ground she refused to eat them. See what I mean. FUSSY!
By now she had lost all the weight she had put on so I took to Facebook and joined a Goat Group to see if anyone had some good advice. These are some of the suggestions and the results:
Try her hay in a hay rackSo I rigged up a hay rack made from an old freezer basket. She promptly knocked this to the floor so I re-rigged it better. It stayed in place but she still ignored her hay.
|Mmmmm - Ivy|
Take her for a walk and see what she nibbles on the wayDog collar borrowed from Harry and off we went. IVY. She likes ivy. She now gets some branches of ivy stuffed into her otherwise obsolete hay rack and now she has got over the fact the ivy was in the dreaded rack she happily munches all of it ... until of course the branches fall to the ground. I have also just pruned the willow/dogwood hedge alongside the play area and threw some of the cut branches in. She loves stripping the bark from them, evenif they are on the floor.
Custard CreamsApparently goats have a sweet tooth so you can crumble some Custard Creams in their food and they'll eat it, then gradually reduce the amount of biscuit until there are none included and they'll still eat the food. I can get Custard Creams here but they are expensive so I bought the cheapest biscuits Aldi had on offer - a 4 pack of sponge fingers for under a Euro. We LIKE sponge fingers and now we eat our soaked sugar beet with glee ... and are down to one biscuit mixed in. I am however, wondering if this is giving her a sugar high as her new favourite game is to run round her pen, leap on the duck ark that is in there - do a little clog dance and then jump off before repeating!
|I'm the King of the Castle ...|
CompanyGoats are herd animals and like company and in fairness has fussiness did get more noticeable when the sheep went. We are on the look-out for more sheep or another goat so fingers crossed that will help.
I am not sure we are out of the woods yet with her fussy eating but we are getting there ... and yesterday I saw her sneakily eating the banana skin I had also put in her food. Tomorrow I will find out if she ate the apple ...
Have you ever had to contend with an animal as fussy as Maddie? I'd love to hear how you got on.