Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Tragedy in the milking herd

We are once again sadly reminded of the dark side of nature.  Among  all the majesty,  wonder,  and beauty is a darkness of animal nature.  By human terms, it is sad, but in reality it is animal nature.

This week we lost two of the best new additions to the herd,  the two granddaughters of rosemary.  They were each born within days of the other to rosemary's twin daughters.  Healthy,  strong,  about 2 months old,  growing perfectly.  There was no siangs if illness,  parasites,  or distress of any kind.  One evening they are fine,  next morning,  gone. 

When the first one died,  we struggled to find a cause.  Nothing fit.  No conceivable reason from a health perspective.   When the second one died a couple days later,  we realized what was happening.  Penelope.

Over the last few weeks,  penelope has become increasingly aggressive to the other goats.  She is the dominant goat in the milking herd.  When rosemary is in the milking herd,  these two challenge each other.  But rosemary moved out a month or so ago to the breeding herd.  That left penelope alone to dominate the herd.  Unfortunately she didnt stop at exerting her dominance,  she found it necessary to abuse her position of leadership.

She started randomly but consistently attacking the other goats.  By attacking,  i mean head butting.  Her strenght on attack increased so that we now have two gates with broken welds.  She butted hard enough to bend and break the welds on the gate cross braces.

It never occured to us that she would attack the little ones in the pen.  She seemed to be asserting herself among the other milkers,  especially maggie.  But without rosemary around to keep her in check,  penelope just got out of control in her dominance.

We are now convinced that penelope attacked the babies as they grew and presented a threat to her dominance.  She was definitely strong enough to kill one with a single well placed hit.

So....  We are sad.  And penelope is retired.  We moved her to the breeding stall,  and after a birth we will offer her for sale in milk.  The milk production will drop slightly,  but within our limits.  We cant take a chance on her being around smaller goats anymore.

Nature.....  Beautiful but dark.  Constantly needing the humanity of man to manage it. 

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