Goats averted to grass

Below are excerpts from a letter I received from a seed grower who wanted to know if goats could be averted to grass. He did avert the goats on his own with coaching from me. Here’s how it worked.

Part of working the magic with food aversion is giving the animals an experience where they believe a particular food is bad. I compare it to going to the Chinese Restaurant and having the black bean shrimp. If the shrimp makes you sick, you never want to eat black bean shrimp again.

Russian wildrye2 (1)In a corral, I gave the goats a big feed of the grass I wanted them to avoid and then gave them each a very carefully measured dose of LiCl, based on their body weight (200 mg/kg). If you’ve ever had a dose of Ipecac you understand how a sick feeling can be induced chemically. The goats stood around looking morose for a few hours and then resumed normal activities.

The goats ate weeds. They had a preference for the growing tips of kochia, the lambsquarter disappeared and they kept the prostrate knot weed and pig weed suppressed; they had more than they could really eat so they simply gained weight and got fat. The one clump of grass that one of the goats was forced to eat when it was tied up got nipped now and then as the goats traveled through the field.

My Bozoiski II Russian Wildrye gets tall, easily five feet, and the rows are spaced three feet apart. When it got tall, the goats lost interest in going down the little tunnels between the rows. They pretty much stayed out the grass when it was tall. That means that when the seed was close to harvest and ready to shatter the goats were not around; they stayed in the open edges of the field. After harvest they resumed patrolling the whole field looking for weeds.