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Snow - huch much is too much?

857 Views 6 Replies 6 Participants Last post by  Bob Jones
since we have a winter with extraordinary snow fall this year - and snowblows piling up almost 3,5 ft. high - I was wondering when snow is too high for the goats to still be comfortable when hiking with them.

I went out last week with a group - the weather was bad with snowstorm and wind blowing in our faces. The goats hated the weather, off course, but they also had problems with the general height of the snow cover and with the snow blows in particular. While I tried to avoid the snow blows as best as possible, they would sink belly deep into the snow on some stretches of the trail even without getting into snowblows (I didn't dare to even try crossing the blows). I could see how they worked to get out of these situations but I kept wondering where the limit for goats is for hiking in deep snow.
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I'd feel guilty dealing with much more than up the knee unless I'd been caught out and had to get somewhere.

There is a lot of variation to snow density, though, and that's going to be more of a consideration than just the height alone.
I stayed home completely while the snow was loose. When we did this hike it was after a period of thawing and the snow cover was somewhat denser and packed with new snow on top of it. I don't think that I would have done it under this conditions if there had been another chance but this was a fixed date for a rehabilitation of troubled teenagers. The people organising it have a fixed schedule in which they have to finish this rehabilitation.

Well, we all learned a lesson, I think, not only the teenagers.
Well it sounds like you discovered "how much is too much" on that hike. ;)

In snow like this people have a hard time too, which is why we invented snowshoes and skis. I know that back in the mining days here in the Rockies, when supplies were still delivered by mule train, suppliers would put snowshoes on their pack mules so they could make it over the massive walls of snow without having to blast a path with dynamite. I would think the hind feet would tangle with the front, but I guess the mules were clever enough to work it out because it was a fairly common practice. I'm not sure if goats could wear snowshoes, but that's something I'd love to see! :lol:

What I do in snow like this is I send a horse out front to break trail. I know our goat never broke his own trail in deep snow, but would follow one of our horses around the pasture. It works just as well for people too, so maybe next time you take a group out hiking in deep snow, arrange to have someone go ahead of you on horseback. We used to do this a lot in winter camp here in Colorado. We had groups of kids hiking in the snow, and we usually sent someone out on horseback earlier in the morning to make a navigable path. People (and animals) with short legs appreciate it!
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In 2008 in North Idaho's record breaking snow fall, 42 inches in 52 hours, my 9 month old Ober boy Scout had snow over his back. He put his nose up like a snorkle and pawed at the snow until he could move forward. My then 3 year old, 33" at the withers, stood back and watched the little one do all the work. I eventually put a lead on the big guy and used him like a plow around the yard. I did break trail in front of him but his chest plowed open the path. Mind you the pen is only 1/2 and acer.
When I get over 2 ft my boys stay in their house a tell me to get out the tractor and plow around the house and feeder- pretty sure I know who's in control .
We have been in the snow the last few hikes. I have intentionally taken them off the beaten trail to see how they would do.

If the snow is only up to their elbow they do fine. Above that is more difficult. The goats without packs played leap frog in the deeper snow, but with a pack really struggled and I had to assist.

If the snow is packed, but breaks under the weight it is the worst since it makes them lose their balance.

I am tempted to look for an old pair of burro snowshoes. Old racquetball racquets maybe?
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