As studying is my main priority at the moment with my A level exams in the summer, I have decided to do monthly updates about my work at the farm instead.
September has been a great month, I came back with an abundance of new skills from Finland, bought three lovely pedigree goats and I completed a 24 hour hike with the charity Mind.
Once Esmé and Lyra were settled in (this is where my last blog ended) https://mammalsandmicroscopes.wordpress.com/2017/09/03/crazy-goat-lady/ , I planned to pick up the billy.
I definitely made my chemistry and maths classes aware that I was eagerly anticipating purchasing my first billy goat that morning after lessons.
Fortunately, Pete and I did not get delayed in hours of traffic this time! With handlebars as horns, it was a simple task to get Jasper into the livestock trailer.
To integrate Jasper into the Golden Guernsey pen, I moved Esmé and Lyra into an adjacent stable, enabling the 3 of them to make contact and to share their first romantic meal (of straw because the hay bale had not arrived yet). Roughage to continue to aid rumination.
Jasper was bottle-reared so he is certainly not shy. Whilst he is incredibly sweet, his musky odour is certainly not.
The science behind a billy goat’s scent, however, is fascinating.
There is a hormonal chain reaction, that triggers a doe to ovulate. 4-ethyloctanal is a compound is a primer pheromone, which is explained in the article to be a chemical that causes an aspect of the recipient’s physiology to alter in response.
The chemical reaction between 4-ethloctanol and air, produces 4-ethylocyanoic acid- this is the smell that does are attracted to. So this is an adaptation of a billy goat with two significant benefits for survival, not only does it physiologically encourage a doe to cycle, but the behavioural aspect of urinating on themselves increases their attraction to does.
Since the young billy goats needed to be weaned, it was time for a deep barn cleanse with virkon to ensure that Dichelobacter nodosus, the foot-rot causing bacteria, will not infect the Golden Guernseys.
On the topic of foot rot, before I moved the young billy goats, I ensured that I had trimmed their hooves along with the rest of the herd. So any infected debris would be disposed of whilst mucking the pens out.