I don’t know about you folks, but I just got my July/August copy of GRIT Magazine in the mail. They had an incredible article on how to use a Bellwether to guide a grazing goat herd. A Bellwether is typically a wether (castrated male goat) that is a also regarded by the tribe as a leader. I like to think of it as the goat version of an alpha male, although, I’m sure others would disagree with that comparison. The Bellwether wears a bell around his neck (hence the job title) and the other goats follow him along. When his bell rings abruptly, the other goats know that danger is near and to crowd together to follow the Bellwether to safety.
The article was quite interesting, especially since one of my little wethers has been escaping from the electric fence. I think the solar charger I have the pen hooked up to is not delivering a strong enough shock. Now that the goat kids are much larger, they don’t seem as affected by the little zap the fence delivers. Next week we plan to get a regular electric-powered charger to replace the inadequate solar-powered one.
In the meantime, I thought I would distract my little goat friend by letting all four of the goats out for snack time instead of just Freyja. Using these new goat tips, I devised a plan.
None of my little wethers are old enough or high-ranking enough to be a Bellwether, but I do have a herd queen, Freyja. Even after my trade on Tuesday for my new doeling, Freyja will still be considered the herd queen because of her age and dominance over her own kids. So why not make a Bellqueen of her?
I had this neat looking, lightweight, hand hammered, copper bell just laying arounds the house. With a key ring, I attached it to Freyja’s collar. Voila! Fancy musical goat.
Yesterday and today I have tested my Bellqueen theory and tethered Freyja to a tree to graze while her kids stayed close. I figure if I can control how far Freyja can wander by tethering her to a tree, I can in turn, have Freyja control how far her kids and growing tribe will wander. With so many coyotes around, I will always be outside keeping a watchful eye on everyone when they are outside their pen. When snack time was over, I simply walked Freyja back into the pen and everyone followed without so much as a snort. So far, so good.