Every frosty night the goats are found in the middle of the biggest paddock (field) they have access to, and often some are scattered far from the others. They seem to love it.
Milking goats are known to have thin skin, and very little to keep them warm, unlike their wooly cousins, the Mohair goats. As a result, they absolutely hate rain and getting wet. But I’ve always wondered why they insist on sleeping in wide open places on a frosty night.
So the big question is, how is it that goats can keep warm if they sleep in frosty conditions with air temperatures of 2-3 degrees or even -2 or -3 degrees or lower?
The answer is found in the feed they have available to them. We feed our milking goats with high quality spray free hay which is often still green, even though it has been baled some 6 months before. They love this meadow hay, and the rough texture of it suits them well.
The hay ferments in their multiple stomachs, and keeps them warm, from the inside out. So while their bellies are digesting, they are keeping warm, and best of all, those that are capable are also making milk ready for the morning as well. Last year we ran out of their favourite hay near the end of winter. So we looked for some meadow hay, and of course it wasn’t up to their standard!
Well, you’d think they had blue (royal) blood or something. I guess they ate more frosty grass at the end of winter last year. Of course they did manage to eat some of the different hay, but they didn’t eat as much. We find the quality and the volume of the milk is dependent on the minerals they eat, and the hay they devour as much as the grass they eat, the water they drink. The better it all is, the better the milk.
We make soap with some of that milk. The milking mothers don’t need to feed their kids at this time of year. As you can see above, the daughter on the left is nearly as big as the mother on the right foreground, they both eat the same foods now.