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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
And it is like a goat version of the Purge around here.
They knocked a new 50# salt block out of it's crate.
Cookie the horse got disgusted and is standing in the far front corner of the pasture watching traffic.
When I went in the pasture to hay, Pickle challenged me!
HaHa, Pickle, I kick.
Pinky Whitehead (Pickle's mom), had my back and mowed down her daughter.
All the unweaned babies are cowering in the creep pen.
The head goat-cop is gone and the inmates are rioting!
Hopefully there will not be blood in the morning.
 

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Isn't it amazing how disruptive it can be when you shake up the herd dynamics! The bighorn sheep managers keep insisting that isolated herds are somehow falling victim to pathogens from domestic animals--that the die-offs can in no way be related to the fact that they removed a dozen ewes from the herd the previous winter. Pbbbbtt. Herd dynamics shmamics! There must've been a stray goat in the area that wandered in and out without anyone noticing! That's what caused the problem!

When our herd queen died unexpectedly last year our doe pen was in turmoil for several months, and two of my goats tested positive for CL despite testing clean later on. I think the stress level threw their immune systems out of whack which in turn threw off the CL tests. It's amazing what stress can do.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Damfino, the guys at work caught me trying to say this :"shmamics", so thanks for a work group laugh!
Herd is still, I don't know, mutating?
I would have thought the last #2 (Diva) would have just moved to the top spot, and so on down the line.
Nope. I have one FF trying real hard to be #1, I have an outlier who has never been part of any group trying to claim the throne, and then
there's the sisters: Pinky Whitehead and Diva, who can't stop pounding on each other long enough to eat.
Maybe I am just out there with them more this time.
I also forgot how long Coco was on the throne, about 4 years, mostly peaceful.
 

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Damfino that is so interesting about the Bighorn sheep. We have a herd of white tail deer on our farm and the current matriarch appears to have twins regularly, the herd is thriving under her, she has always been a deer that took refuge near the houses on the farm and keeps her fawns right near my goat barn or my uncle's house.

It's certainly true, I'm observing more of the goat herd dynamics working from home the past year. I sold our herd queen in August, introduced two new adult does, and here we are SEVEN months later still with hierarchy issues. I am planning to sell two senior does this spring so chaos will continue. I know who I think should claim Queen and would be a non-aggressive enforcer, but they don't seem to care about my opinion much. It's endlessly fascinating.
 

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Herd dynamics fascinate me to no end. We had turmoil all last year after our herd queen died, partly because the queen's daughter, Skeeter, was the "natural heir" to the throne and despite her youth and inexperience, most of my herd seemed to be looking to her for leadership; but there was a much older doe, Tigerlily, with a more aggressive personality who also claimed seniority--sort of. Tigerlily was big and bossy and had been in the herd the longest, but she wasn't the responsible sort who wanted to lead the herd or look after anyone's babies or make sure everyone was together. Skeeter tried to lead, but since Tigerlily could beat Skeeter up, the herd wasn't sure what to do or who to follow. The herd wanted a leader--not a mean and emotionally distant boss. Due to the confusion, several younger goats also tried to claim the leadership title, but no one really emerged victorious until I actually sold Tigerlily. Once the mean boss was gone, Skeeter ascended very naturally to the queen position and is doing just as outstanding a job as her mother did before her.

Herd are of course able to eventually settle these squabbles and disruptions over time, but as in the case of the bighorn sheep, if you disrupt it too much by removing several key female members and busting up several matriarchies at once, you could end up with enough turmoil to throw the whole herd into an emotional tailspin, at which point disease and parasites opportunistically wipe out even more members of the herd, throwing it into further disarray. The survivors will have no established herd structure in which to safely raise lambs, so lamb recruitment will likely be suppressed for many years. You may end up with ewes being bred younger (due to no competition from senior ewes), and ewes with no older, proven mothers to provide an example of how to properly care for lambs. Babysitting groups would likely be non-existent in a broken-down herd society, so lambs might either be abandoned to fend for themselves all day or forced to follow along on herd forays, which would be hard on them. Biologists wonder why lamb recruitment remains low for years after a disease outbreak, even if the remaining adult animals are disease-free. A broken herd social structure is probably the exact reason. Broken families and societies aren't just detrimental to human beings--they affect all types of species.

I read a study years ago about an increase in elephant attacks in India. Villages had existed peacefully for years alongside wild elephants, but suddenly people were being killed and villages leveled by rampaging young bulls. It turned out that poachers had killed too many of the older bulls for their tusks, resulting in rogue young males who not only became "domestic abusers" in their own herds--beating up cows and killing calves--but also turned their rage on people and villages.
 
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