Friday, March 25, 2011

Ziggy the Buck

Ziggy our buck has a whole 2 acre pasture for himself. The problem is that he is lonely. We have to separate him from the milking doe, to avoid tainting her milk, and the kids are too young, he could hurt them. So he is lonely and complaining every time he sees someone.
Yesterday, I spotted a plastic bag on the pasture, which doesn't look very good, so I went in, first time in at least two weeks. Ziggy is fed through the fence, so he has minimum interaction with anyone.
He let me him, no problem, and then I walked to where the plastic bag was, always keeping an eye on Ziggy, because he has challenged me a few times. Nothing really bad, I just walked away to leave him alone those few times. But yesterday was different, as soon as I tried to walk back, he would stand in front of me, show me he wanted to play or fight, although I don't think he meant any ill. Foam was coming out of his mouth, and he was jumping and turning around in front of me, head up, then head down, showing his horns. I was quite scared at that point. He would not let me pass him.
The only thing I thought of doing, although I knew it was not good as far as training (it would reinforce his bad behavior) was to grab his horns and twist his neck to drive us next to the gate, then push him to the fence to shock him, and hope that would startle him enough to give me time to open the gate and leave. It took me a good 10 minutes to push him back the 100FT or so to the fence. He resisted to touch the fence, but eventually touch it good two times, and run away 10 feet from me. I ran and jumped the gate (not part of the initial plan...). I looked back, he looked disappointed that the game was over, which is why I think now he did not mean any ill, although yesterday, I was not sure at all of his intents.
I was exhausted, and promised myself to buy a cow prod and shock him good to show him who is the boss. These were my thoughts coming back to the house.

After a day reflecting, I am trying to come up with the best response. He is a beautiful buck, and I want to keep him, but not with this behavior, at least not with humans. So here is the plan:

1. Get a cattle prod. I hope to never use it, but I will if I have to (risk of injury for example). The prod will be locked so that nobody will play with it (I have seen kids playing with forcing their dog to walk through their invisible fence just because it was fun to shock the dog...).
2. Always have the prod on me, visible to Ziggy, when I have to deal with him. Put red tape on it or whatever will make it noticeable. Use deterrence as much as possible, rather than punishment.
3. Never go into the buck pen alone. This is the last time I deal with Ziggy on my own.
4. Use a spray bottle against Ziggy, and see if that works. If it does, this will be the main training tool. If not, unfortunately, the prod will, and the training won't be good. Here is an example of how well that simple trick can work: BackYardHerds post.
5. Train Ziggy to make him understand humans are not challengers to his dominance. Does anyone know how to do that?
6. Give him a companion. That will be our wether kid, he is 4 months old only, and still too young, he could get hurt. A companion will help Ziggy stay a social buck.
7. Interact with Ziggy as often as his behavior allows. Probably leave him alone with the wether during rut though...

If you have experience to share, please leave a comment. Thanks for visiting the blog.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

First Goose Egg

Yesterday, the geese took over the goat shed. The goose hen choose a spot to nest, her companion standing next to her, while the lone male was guarding the goat shed. The pic below shows the loan male guarding.

Needless to say, they were fiercely defending the area. I brought them some feed, and got attacked. So I suspected the hen had laid already, and hoped that she would brood her eggs.
This morning, I noticed the three geese were out, and staid out for a while. The nest appeared abandoned, so I went in there, and found three eggs, one been a chicken egg, one a broken goose, and the third one an apparently good goose egg. Here is a pic, the obscurity of the goat shed forced long exposure, which made the pic a little blurry. The broken egg was removed before the pic was taken.

Because the nest is abandoned, we setup our incubator. Hopefully the goose egg will fit inside the egg turner.

On the first pic above, the new Kestrel nest box is also visible.