Duck Herding

Our ducks are one month old today! They have been spending their days in a “duck tractor”, a cage that we move daily across the yard.

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Up until today we had been putting them in a basket and carrying them back to their stall at night.

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Today since they have grown to be such good ducks we let them walk across the yard back to the barn and into their stall by “herding” them with a broom. Fairly soon these ducks will be out on pasture eating pesky insects.

 

Just for fun here is a video of thousands of ducks being herded overseas.

Growing Up On The Farm

Growing up on a farm is such a supreme blessing from God.  It is my belief that our daughter Lorelai will grow up better prepared to excel because she is being raised on the farm.  Why do I think this?  Because on the farm you see a reality that is not available in town or in the city.  You have an intimate connection to your food, seeing it raised from birth.  Farm life also makes you a problem solver, you become the mechanic, fence mender, carpenter, etc when the need arises.  These situations give people a sense of accomplishment.

Lorelai and Daddy

Farms are a place to express your creativity and see real results.  Like anywhere else in life you can just follow conventional wisdom, play it safe, be dependent on the government or you can ask new questions, find new methods, take risks and be a source of abundance.

 

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I invite you to watch Lorelai grow up on this beautiful farm by joining our mailing list today.  It is my earnest prayer that this generation see more “gentlemen farmers” in the tradition of George Washington, where the best and the brightest actually find their place on the farm.

Fill out the form below to join the Gansereit Farms mailing list.

 

Maintenance of Electric Fence

Electric fence works great to keep your animals in the pasture, but from time to time it takes maintenance to keep it in proper working order. Tall grasses and weeds will draw power from your fence, making your whole system weaker.

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A few minutes with the weedeater can keep your fence operating properly.

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Grass that touches the fence will dry out and die. This can be a hazard during dry seasons.

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As you can see from this photo we have not had enough animal pressure to keep the grass down so weed eating is a must.

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It’s also a good idea when walking your fence line to check for fallen branches after storms.

Just a little bit of preventive maintenance keeps your fence operating smoothly and your animals where you want them.

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Disadvantages of Feeding Grain to Goats

Many opinions can be found regarding the feeding of grain to goats and other ruminants.  This article is not meant to be judgemental of those who choose to feed grain to goats, it is simply meant to argue a case against it.  To be perfectly candid some of the goats which I manage for my employer receive grain daily while my own goats do not.  The following points are in no particular order.

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Aggression is one of the chief reasons I find myself in the anti-grain camp.  At feeding time it can get down right scary watching the goats ram each other, baby goats flying, etc.  Simply mayhem.  These goats which normally get along just fine, turn into ruthless bar brigands when the grain is brought out.  Obviously this is not something you want to see when you care about the animals nor does the prospect of damaged kids bode well for the profit line.

 

Economics is another key reason I choose to not feed grain to my goats.  Grain is an expensive input that directly affects the bottom line both in the obvious upfront cost and from the health implications discussed in the next paragraph.  As a side note we have seen great weight gains in goats this year who have been taken off of grain and provided good browse and grazing.  These same goats struggled last year while being fed grain.  A large part of our model depends on intensive rotational grazing to achieve these gains.  We sell Boer goats as meat goats so this is most likely not the case with dairy goats where the additional inputs can be covered by higher end value added products such as cheese.

 

Nutrition is an important part of my decision not to feed grain to our goats.  Nowhere in nature do we see ruminants eating such concentrated diets of grain.  Joel Salatin does a much better job of explaining this than I can in his book Salad Bar Beef.  Specifically concerning goats we see cases of acidosis occurring and disease spread when goats eat grain that falls to the ground.  Many cattle people might argue that grain provides their marbling and higher sale weights.  To that I would ask if fatter is better why don’t we look at 300 pound people as the model of health?  Beyond this what chemicals and GMO issues are being passed up the food chain to our customers.  It simply does not fit our model of wanting to provide the healthiest possible product to our customers.

 

I look forward to your feedback on this topic and please remember to sign up for our mailing list.

 

 

 

The Grass IS Greener on the Other Side!

The following is a photo blog of a paddock shift using Premier One electric net fencing on a pasture that had been cut for hay about a week ago.  With this wet June everything is growing like crazy but it also means we want the goats to be constantly moving to avoid parasite problems.  The goats will still traverse the old paddock in this particular area due to the logistics of getting them to their shelter and night time bedding area.

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The fence line before the paddock shift.

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Southeast view of the fence line before the paddock shift.IMG_2497

This is not the greatest shot but the grass in the old paddock was down to 3 inches, where as the grass on the new area was about 6-8 inches.

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In this shot you can see the night and day difference in the grass from the new paddock to the old.

 

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A shot from the bottom of the pasture.IMG_2500

The shady corner in the bottom of the new paddock.IMG_2501

A view from the top of the pasture, old paddock in the foreground, new in the distance.IMG_2502

Finally a shot from our master bedroom, where we can watch “The Goat Show” 24/7

 

Buckwheat’s First Day At Work With The Goats

Ever since we lived downtown St. Louis I have been promising our dog Buckwheat that one day very soon he would have a job, a job herding goats!  Well he waited and waited, then finally at long last today he got to work with some goats.  He did a wonderful job herding them and spent the rest of the day guarding the herd as he is filling in that role until the Anatolian Shepherd gets here.  Unfortunately for my poor boy he hit the electric fence three times before he figured it out, the goats learned a bit quicker.  The following is a photo diary of Buckwheats first day.

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Managing Worms in Meat Goats

Anyone who has spent time raising meat goats knows that they are very susceptible to intestinal worms.  While I am by no means an expert I have come to form a few opinions on the management of worms in meat goats.  Over the last few months we have tried various natural treatments for worms and various industry standard chemical approaches. (This is on the other farm I work at down the road, we do not use chemicals.)  One major factor in the success of treatment in my opinion is the goat, some are more resistant than others and I have actually seen the “treatment” do more harm than good.

The best approach that I see at this point is to work with the natural defenses goats have, constant rotation and providing browse.  Goats should not be in the same area any longer than necessary and a pasture/area should rest 4 weeks before the goats see it again.  This means the larvae which have a 3 week life span in many instances should die off.  Goats also naturally defend themselves by eating the higher up leaves and other browse, pretty much everything shoulder height and above.  If they are in a “pasture” with grasses which cows typically eat they may be exposed to more larvae and become more wormy.  These are the two most practical preventive measures I have seen so far.

Lastly comes the tough choice many people do not want to make.  Sometimes we have to let nature take its course and weed out those weaker animals which are easily overtaken by worms.  By all means trying a few supportive measures like cooking oil, vitamin B, vitamin C, etc, are some things I would recommend, but we have to know when enough is enough and when to let nature play out.  Many goat breeders in America say “we don’t have worm resistant goats here in America”.  Well perhaps this is in part because we are not willing to pay the initial costs in losses to breed more resistant goats.

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Autumn at Gansereit Farms

Leaves are turning their glorious colors, cold October rains are falling and our animals are bustling about.  We are stacking firewood and preparing to install new electric fencing on our property, it’s all very exciting.  Mrs. Gansereit has added to this glorious time of year by baking pies and making great stews that keep us warmed and ready to work.  We love this time of year!

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Chicken Contraption Part Deux

Our newest chickens outgrew their footlocker accommodations quickly so it was time for a new building project.  First of all I want to say no tape measures were hurt during this project as none were used!  What we decided to do is repurpose an old desk that was in the basement into a temporary home for our chicks.  So the desk, the chicken wire we had left from the building of our coop, and some scrap lumber from the other farm I work on turned into Chicken Contraption Part Deux.  Not 1 extra dollar was spent on this project and that is farming smarter not harder.  An important lesson I learned from Joel Salatin is it’s a chicken house not furniture to be passed down through the generations, so who cares if it is square, complete the project and move on to the next job instead of spending all day on it.

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Anatolian Shepherds Guarding Goats

At Gansereit Farms when we start our goat grazing business (click here for more info) we will be using Anatolian Shepherds to guard our goats.

anatolian_shepherd_dog  These powerful dogs will be necessary to keep coyotes and other predators away from our treasured goats.  These dogs are all business when on duty and will protect what is “theirs” with their lives.  See more about our sustainable agriculture project here.

 

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