Daily Herd Decision

Several years ago my goat herd had a lead goat. She was an Alpine. She was not head goat. that was a different Alpine. When the pasture gate was opened, the herd decision of where to go was solely hers.

The herd went to the gate and stood there, waiting. Loyal wandered out, threading her way through the herd and out the gate. Some mornings she led them north, some south.

herd decision to go out

The herd is usually eager to go out in the morning. The goats race out the barn door and wait for me to lead them to the pasture gate. Enough follow me to convince the entire herd to show up at the gate.

Loyal grew old and died. Dude took over for the next few years, but he was already elderly. He was the last of the Alpines.

Now the goat herd is only Nubians. They have relied on the Alpines for years for leadership. Even a few years after losing Dude, they haven’t found a herd leader. Instead they have a democratic approach.

herd decision for pasture

The herd hesitates at the pasture gate. Some goats graze. Most stand around listening for the horseflies to attack. The big problem is lack of a lead goat to show the herd the way.

Since I open the pasture gate, I am their first leader of the day. The herd straggles along to the gate.

I walk through the gate. The herd scatters as they walk through the gate. Some goats don’t make it out of the gate right away as the giant ragweed is right there waiting for browsing.

herd decision at the bridge

I am only lead goat stand in. I am respected only as long as I go the way the herd wants to go. Of course, if I pull down a tree branch or two, the herd will be glad to join me.

Finally the entire herd is outside the gate milling around. At this point I can go back in and close the gate leaving the goats to stand around. Or I can walk out to pasture.

If I close the gate, the goats look at each other. Some wander off to browse. The top goats are stuck with the herd decision: Where do we go today?

herd decision to cross the creek

There are no railings. There are spaces between the planks. The creek flows underneath the planks, even within a foot or so during high water times. The herd still crosses the bridge to avoid getting their hooves wet.

If I lead the way, the herd decision is put off, sort of. The main path leads toward the bridge across the creek. At this point the herd can go north along the creek or cross the creek to go south.

Most mornings when I lead, I walk a short way north. The herd gets to the bridge and stops. I turn to see them looking at me like I’m lost or something.

herd decision made

There is now a fallen tree for the kids to play on, lots of plants to browse and three possibilities for going out. One or another goat gets hungry and has a taste for some plant out one of the directions and takes off. everyone seems to give off a sigh of relief and follows. The decision is made for today.

The herd decision is already made to cross the creek. I’m not in on the decision. They pity me, turn and cross the bridge only to stop on the other side.

Again some wander off to browse. The head goats have another herd decision to make. They can go left up the hill and around. They can go straight and up the hill pasture. They can go right along the creek and to the ravine.

Finally one goat gets antsy. She takes off one way or another. The herd follows.

Find out more about goats while having fun solving pencil puzzles in Goat Games.