Dairy goats need lots of water. With four inches of snow on the ground, the goats are inside and I am hauling water. Except the goats ignored my buckets and stood aong the gym step eating snow.
Snow is cold. Eating too much of it can cause hypothermia. Advice for goat owners is to provide plenty of warm water to their goats.
So I do.
And the goats continue eating snow.
I suppose I could confine them to the barn forcing them to consume the warmer water I bring. I did do that the day it snowed.
Soon the goats were bickering. The younger ones were bounding into the milk room and leaping onto the hay. They were racing around the barn upsetting the pregnant does due next month.
I opened the gate. The goats poured out to bask in the sun that was so prominent yesterday.
And I hauled water. And dumped unwanted buckets starting to ice over. I hauled more water to the milk room for those who wanted some after eating their grain. And I dumped half of that.
My goats have eaten snow for years. I don’t know why they prefer it to the warmer water in the buckets, but they do.
As with hay or grain, my goats are picky about the snow they eat. It must be clean, no hoof prints or dirt, definitely no goat berries. Since clean snow lasts only a day or two, eating snow is a short time activity.
The practice doesn’t seem to hurt the goats. Hay continues to disappear from the troughs quickly. Grain vanishes as though vacuums were at work.
My herd is doing fine. My pregnant does are getting wide and their udders are swelling. My milking does still produce milk. I will let them enjoy their few days eating snow.