Onion Creek Ranch, Lohn, Texas
Suzanne W. Gasparotto, Onion Creek Ranch, Lohn, TX
Lohn, Texas
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The number of people who proudly tell me how tall their pastures are and therefore how much they have for their goats to eat is an indication of widespread misinformation about goats, how they live, and how they survive.

Goats are not pasture animals. They are foragers/browsers, like deer. They need to eat "from the top down," eating weeds and leaves, to avoid stomach worms that exist at ground level . Goats can digest leaves more readily because of the net veination of the leaf structure. Grasses have veins parallel to the stem which are much harder for goats to digest.

I suspect that folks who have pasture but lack forage/browse think they can offer tall grasses to their goats and keep them from contacting stomach worms. Not so. Goat will go to ground level for the newest and most tender plant material, right where the worms are. Unless there are seed heads on the tall grasses, goats won't eat them. As grasses grow, the tips get less digestible to goats.

Pastures that have tall grasses tend to stay wet at ground level, increasing the exposure to worms, pasteurella, and other organisms. Mow your pastures to about 8 inches in height so that the underlying ground dries out.

Over a decade ago, we had an unusually wet spring in West Texas. The goats were enjoying all the greenery. I allowed one pasture containing 15 Tennessee Meat Goat™ bucks to stay high enough to cover their heads. Every one of them contracted pasteurella pneumonia, even though I had vaccinated against it. I treated them and they appeared to get well, but the problem became chronic. Over the next 18 months, every one of them slowly went down and died. I wasn't sure what was happening. I verified it wasn't worms. My vet necropsied the last one at GoatCamp™ and discovered pasteurella abscesses in his lungs. Because I didn't mow the tall grasses, the ground never dried out, setting up conditions that resulted in pasteurella pneumonia abscesses that killed 15 top-quality Tennessee Meat Goat™ bucks. An expensive loss and my fault.

Improper management is almost always the cause of problems with goats. Analyze every decision you make before you put it into effect. THINK LIKE A GOAT.

Suzanne W. Gasparotto, Onion Creek Ranch, 10/7/17

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All information provided in these articles is based either on personal experience or information provided by others whose treatments and practices have been discussed fully with a vet for accuracy and effectiveness before passing them on to readers.

In all cases, it is your responsibility to obtain veterinary services and advice before using any of the information provided in these articles. Suzanne Gasparotto is not a veterinarian.Neither tennesseemeatgoats.com nor any of the contributors to this website will be held responsible for the use of any information contained herein.

The author, Suzanne Gasparotto, hereby grants to local goat publications and club newsletters, permission to reprint articles published on the Onion Creek Ranch website under these conditions: THE ARTICLE MUST BE REPRODUCED IN ITS ENTIRETY AND THE AUTHOR'S NAME, ADDRESS, AND CONTACT INFORMATION MUST BE INCLUDED AT THE BEGINNING OF THE REPRINT. We would appreciate notification from any clubs or publications when the articles are used. (A copy of the newsletter or publication would also be a welcome addition to our growing library of goat related information!)

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