Ever heard the saying that goats will eat anything?
This is actually a myth and potentially a very dangerous one. Goats are browsers, unlike cattle, sheep and horses which are grazers. Much like giraffes they will search for and select food from different sources such as bushes and trees and can stand on their hind legs to reach something missed by less agile animals.
Naturally curious, they will put just about anything in their mouths to see if its edible and this can include everything from cardboard to clothing. This could cause them to choke on whatever they are testing and if they do manage to swallow it, might mean a medical emergency requiring surgery to remove it!
For this reason we are asking our supporters help to make sure that nothing is ever fed to the goats when they visit. Even what might seem like the most innocent treat can cause a problem; the wrong foods could be poisonous and even food that is safe for goats, if given in large enough quantities (imagine if lots of visitors are feeding them) can cause obesity. Please just give them a scratch and a pet; they will enjoy it just as much!
In warmer weather, you will often seen lots of our equines in the sand school. Visitors are welcome to pat them and say hello but please, do not feed them!
Horses, ponies and donkeys have very sensitive digestive symptoms that can easily be upset. If items of food such as apple cores are thrown or dropped into the school, the ponies could ingest sand while eating them. As they are unable to vomit, food or objects can become lodged and cause a blockage. This in turn can lead to a potentially fatal condition called colic.
Even 'safe' foods such as mints or carrots can be problematic. Ponies such as Remy and Sparky need expensive supplements to help their guts function normally and have very restricted diets so any additional food, 'safe' or otherwise could cause them pain and discomfort.
The reason the ponies are in the sand school is to restrict their access to grass. In the Spring it is full of sugar and means our ponies put on weight easily if they have unlimited access to it. For ponies like Tilly who is prone to laminitis and has Equine Metabolic Syndrome (the equivalent of type 2 diabetes in people), weight gain could be fatal. For this reason, we would also ask our visitors not to feed them handfuls of grass over the fence. Not only is it bad for their health it can encourage them to nip as they are expecting a treat.
Just like our goats, they love attention so please just give them a stroke and say hello rather than giving them any treats. Please help us keep our animals friendly, pain free and above all, safe. Thank you!