for people who love the littlest dairy goats
Help, please! I have had my four year old doe and wether for exactly one week now. As soon as they got here, she started biting people (I was told that is new behavior and that she didn't do it before). Now, he has started biting her. She won't go in the calf hutch tonight and I'm afraid that she doesn't want to be cornered in there with him biting her. So, 1) how do I get him to stop biting her and 2) her to stop biting people. I've been telling them "no" and at first started tapping them on the nose, but that didn't have any effect. Now I am either pushing them away, or hitting harder (I don't like to do that, but I don't know what else to do). Thank you!
Has anyone tried dropping the goat and pinning it like they describe here: http://northwestpackgoats.com/index.php?main_page=page&id=10&am...?
It sounds harsh, but if it works I'll give it a try.
I've never heard of anyone doing that to a goat. I would be worried about hurting it -- especially a Nigerian, which has finer bones that could be broken. There is also the risk of hurting the rumen if you throw it down on its left side. I've heard some goat breeders say that trauma to the rumen can cause bloat (or something that appears very similar to it). Pack goats tend to be very large goats, and they have horns because they're like radiators and help the goat stay cool when working in heat, which tells us two things -- they can be far more dangerous when aggressive AND it would be much harder to hurt one. There have actually been a couple of cases of wild mountain goats killing tourists in the last couple years out west.
As for your problem ... could you describe the biting a little more? I'm not sure I've seen the type of behavior you're describing. I find it very hard to believe that a four year old doe would start a new behavior as soon as she arrives on your farm. Does she just walk up to you and bite you, or is it when you're petting her, or is it when you go to leave, or ...? How old is the wether? Is it her son? If not, is it a goat that she lived with before?
Deborah, she stated in an earlier post, that she was adopting them through a rescue program and they had been together since they were born, if that helps you any.
Kathy, don't get me wrong, ok, not that I doubt you, but is this actual biting or could it also be described as nibbling and is it done only to exposed skin areas or also to your clothes. I just don't want us to assume that you know a lot about goat habits, because a lot of people don't. So, just in case you don't know, goats are notorious nibblers. Other people say biters, I say nibblers. Lots of goats will nibble all over you and your clothes. But don't mean anything by it and some will really bite. Do you think she is actually trying to be mean? Is she showing any signs of being in heat? That to could affect both of their behaviors.
I am in total agreement with Deborah about her not suddenly starting this. Now considering the fact that they came through rescue it is possible that they may not have realized she was like this. They may not have been around her enough to realize it or if it is heat related that could be why they did not know. Then again it is possible that they straight up lied. Just because places are suppose to be in the rescue business doesn't mean they are always honest like they should be. Unfortunate, but true.
Will be nice to hear the answers to Deborah's questions.
I have heard that a spray bottle of water can be helpful, as goats hate getting wet. I'd wait to hear from Deborah though. I have heard of pinning the goats down on the ground, and I had my kids do it (gently but firmly) a couple of times to show my little buckling they were the boss. I believe it really helped in our case. He HATED being held down, and screamed. I told the kids to hold him until he stopped trying to get up, and then let him go. After a couple of times, he really stopped being aggressive with my small children. He was tiny though. I was trying to nip a behavior before it became a big problem. I don't think you could gently lay a big goat on the ground, and it's questionable whether you could hold it there long enough to teach it anything, or get it there without it forgetting all about what it had "done wrong". I don't really think this is the answer for your situation.
The reason I had my kids discipline my guy that way was because I didn't see what else would work. Pushing him down, or pushing him away wouldn't work. It just became a part of the game he was playing. They love to play pushing games. It only made him worse to push him.
The other thing that works as goat discipline is pinching ears. Goats use it as a method of discipline among themselves. You'll often see one goat bite another one on the ear. Often, just grabbing at an ear is enough to stop them from an undesirable behavior.
I'm very new at this though, so very interested in Deborah's answers! :) I certainly want my animals to trust me, and don't ever want to be unnecessarily cruel to them.
Kathy, the spray bottle will likely work; however, goats are very smart and will soon learn if you have it or not. What I was told and has worked for me is to pinch the ear and firmly say, "No!" It takes a few times but has worked for me. I have one doe that really loves to nibble on my shirt and will sometimes bite but is not being onery, just the way she is. She also is the one that stands back usually and this is likely her way of ensuring she doesn't get forgotten.
The person who gave me this advice (after my being told to bite their ears) said this works because does discipline by biting their ears. While I have not observed that behavior, I just know pinching the ear has worked for me; whether it's the pinch or the mean sound of my "No!" matters not to me as long as it works. As with any discipline (or reward), it must be clearly tied to the behavior. My "biting" doe does this more often when I have cut their apples or had my hand in the grain so you might ascertain you don't have food smell on you that is encouraging it. When I am out playing with them (petting/scratching/etc.) I am constantly saying to the two younger ones, "Don't eat my shirt." I'm not so sure it has not become a game with them or a "me first" thing.<g>
I just went to that page and read what they had to say. I would NEVER treat my goats that way!!! This might be fine with a mean ol' full-size billy goat but absolutely not with our tiny little girls who are so fragile. I cannot even imagine anyone who loves their animals treating them like that. It reminds me horribly of a milking video I came across when I first got my girls - the horrible, horrible man in it was tying the goats' back legs in the air to milk them and actually saying they liked it! I won't even say what he was doing to his bucks. He got only negative comments, really negative comments, and I am surprised YouTube didn't remove the video because he was so terribly abusive.
Because these precious animals are very forgiving and loving we are not given license to mistreat them. I believe in discipline but that page comes across to me as advocating abuse - pepper spray and shock collars? If I say anyone near my girls with anything like that, I would make certain they went to jail.
My suggestion to you is to keep all people except you away from both of them until they are settled in and settled down and especially children. My girls are quite good but are also spooked by children. Children really don't completely understand to sit/stand quietly and let the goat approach them. My four-year-old granddaughter has finally begun to understand to sit quietly with the treats and Ginger (only the baby) will come to her to get the treats. The other two will not approach her which breaks her little heart but she is delighted that Ginger will come up and take a piece of carrot out of her mouth!
As my eldest son pointed out to me early on, these are prey animals and it is in their best interest to avoid anything/anyone that they are the least bit uncomfortable with. With patience and a lot of treats, they will come around. Heaven only knows, if they are rescue animals, what they have been through; they need most of all to know they are safe.
Thank you everyone for your help. I'll try to answer all of the questions...
Hershey does nibble at clothes, etc, but that is different from her biting. I have a bruise on my thigh this morning where she bit me last night. She was born in May 2008 and Charlie was born in January 2009. They have been together since he was born. It sounds like they were in the same home up until they ended up at the rescue farm 6 months ago (girlfriend and boyfriend broke up - couldn't keep the goats anymore). I don't think they have had a difficult life, but you never know. The rescue farm seemed very reliable / trustworthy so I believe them when they say that this is a new behavior, but again, you never know.
I don't know how to tell if she is in heat, but that usually only lasts a couple of days, right? She has been biting for over a week now. She is basically biting whenever she has the opportunity. She stays nice and still if you are scratching her back, but other than that I have to keep a close eye on her to make sure that she can't reach me. That makes it very difficult to feed them / change their water, etc. She started biting within minutes of arriving at my place. I'll definitely try the ear pinching tonight and let you know how it goes.