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On Feb 17th (over two weeks ago,) we bought two Nubian goat whethers that are 4 years old and are twins. We got them to eat all our underbrush and weeds on our several acres. (Seven years ago we got two other Nubians whethers to do this and they did a wonderful job.)

These two Nubians we recently got came from a small homestead-and when we arrived they were grazing on the back lawn belonging to the owner with 6ish other sheep and goats. Their previous owner showed us all the briars that the goats had eaten, and how much they'd cleared for her. So we brought them home and put them in an area of our woods with a goat pen. The area is fenced with electric netting, and it's shaped like a boomerang. On one end is their pen, and on the other end (about 200 feet away) are blackberry brambles with plenty of leaves still on them! At first the goats wouldn't budge by their pen which I knew might happen as they got used to their new location. But it's been over two weeks and they STILL stick by their pen all day. Sometimes they'll wander over to the blackberries but walk right back to the pen. The blackberry leaves have some brown spots on them - but I'd assume the goats would still love to eat them. I avoided feeding the goats hay for 24 hours to see if they'd start eating the blackberries - and instead they ran through the fence to escape. I gave them hay then which they ate quickly. I'm just really confused and wondered if anyone has had experience with this?! In the area we have them in, there's only blackberries to eat currently as everything else is dead/dormant still, but I know goats love blackberries!? If it helps...these goats are visibly very healthy and are also friendly...maybe too friendly! (They're like dogs and are extremely social. I'll lead them over to the blackberries and they'll start eating them if I stand there. The moment I go to leave they follow me back along the fence...and then they stand by their pen staring at our house all day.) I'm planning on moving them around our property to eat brush, and so I hope they start eating it soon! Help would be appreciated - thank you!
 

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You are the herd leader. Yes, you have to stay with them. They are in a new place, and they are afraid. Two weeks isn't enough.

I used to take my herd for walks in the woods. If I made ONE step back toward the house, they all ran up the hill and back to their pens.

What is on the OTHER side of the fence/blackberry patch? If it's trees, then the goats are CONVINCED that there are panthers in there. You must protect them, FarmerMargaret.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
You are the herd leader. Yes, you have to stay with them. They are in a new place, and they are afraid. Two weeks isn't enough.

I used to take my herd for walks in the woods. If I made ONE step back toward the house, they all ran up the hill and back to their pens.

What is on the OTHER side of the fence/blackberry patch? If it's trees, then the goats are CONVINCED that there are panthers in there. You must protect them, FarmerMargaret.
This was helpful to know and think about. Thanks! I've never had a goat not eat because they think I'm their herd leader so I'm new with this. Do you have an idea of how long it could be before they're eating on their own? And do you have any tips for me to keep in mind? I'll walk through their areas with them as much as possible like you suggested.

There ARE trees on the other side of their current blackberry patch so that makes sense if they're worried about predators...but I could move them to a different spot of our property that's more cleared and has a bunch of blackberries/weeds and grass but is surrounded by open fields if that would help? Do you think that would be better? Thanks!
 

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Open line of sight outside the grazing area will help. Thinking like a prey animal helps you understand their fears.

Also, if you are using movable fence, can you set it up with the shelter centrally located? Then, they wouldn't have to go as far from the area they perceive as safe.

If you have time, take a folding chair and a book with you. Sit in the area you want them to clear for 30 minutes while they browse. This will send a signal of safety to the goat brain.

How big was the area where they lived before? How long had they lived there?
 

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Goats can be taught...can be. I have heard it done.
Our chickens behave the same way, and since it has never stopped I believe it is passed down by the generations before them, or at least written onto the coop wall.
My wife will open up the pen and let two dozen chickens follow along as she goes down by the pond. They will be happily scratching and pecking, until she heads back up, then they spin and follow her. Ironic since most of them require a chase to catch and pick up.
With goats, if I want them in a specific area, I find work to do in that area ie, cutting and splitting wood, digging, burning etc.
 

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Example - we have two pastured herds - one is all boys - a big buck and his 3 wether companions. The other are our girls and a wether companion. The boys follow the buck and he'll roam all over without issue. You'll see him marching around and a clump of wethers trailing behind. He is in charge and they feel safe with him. They frequently look up to make sure they're near him. The girls on the other hand will stay in or near the barn if we let them. When we do push them into the pasture, we have to close the gate or they'll follow us right back in. Even then, if we're not with them, they tend to congregate near the gate where they can see the barn. If we are in their space, they relax and wander. Occasionally our oldest doe will lead them farther out, but the first noise or sighting of us has them running back to the gate.
 

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Take some corn (not too much) in a bucket and walk them down near the blackberries. Scatter the corn around in the blackberries. They will pick up the corn first then start browsing. We use this method to direct our cleaning operations with our herd.
 

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We have some Nubians along with Nigerian dwarfs and pygmies. One of our Nubian does is EXTREMELY picky and doesn't eat a lot of the things that the other goats will chow down on. If you spend enough time with them, you'll notice that some goats are just more picky than others. A few of our goats will pick out the grasses. Not all goats are super picky and most of them prefer to eat the weeds and brushy stuff, but occasionally you'll get one that is.
 
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