Mercer Meadows Farm, Oklahoma

Nigerian Dwarf Goats, Bourbon Red Turkeys, and Black Angus Cattle

Gate Intelligence

People debate how intelligent this or that animal is.

I have only one criterion for how intelligent an animal is: Do they fathom the existence and use of GATES?

If you own livestock, you know precisely what I’m talking about. Smart animals know about gates. Dogs know about gates. They know how to find them; they know how to go through them.

But then we have the… well, let’s not call them stupid, but let’s call them the less-intelligent animals.

I love my Red Bourbon Heritage Turkeys, and cherish walking with them… they follow me like ducks.

But heaven help that I should go through a gate.

Any turkey not within 6 inches of me when I go through the gate becomes utterly oblivious as to where I went and how I got there. The turkeys walking ahead of me are now past the gate and have NO idea how to return to it. (Turn around, goobers! The gate opening is 6 INCHES BEHIND YOU!)

The turkeys more than a foot or two behind me are still standing beside the fence, and will now start to go backward and look through the fence at their turkey-mates who actually made it through the gate with me.

And neither the turkeys who were ahead of me nor the turkeys who were behind me have the slightest clue as to how to WALK TWO FEET to get to the still wide-open gate and come through. Total mystery.

No, I have to retrace my steps back into the pen and go to each group and try to herd them out. Of course, when I go back through the gate to get the stragglers, the original geniuses who made it through the gate with me immediately turn around and follow me back into the original pen and thus we’re all back where we started from.

THAT’s how I evaluate animal intelligence, or the lack thereof.

UP. All Food UP!

There’s no way around it. All of your livestock’s feed and water need to be UP!

When food and water bowls/dishes/trays/tubs are on the ground, nothing but bad things happen.

Poultry will walk in and poop in ANYTHING that is on the ground. Baby Chicks and Turkey Poults will knock their bedding, be it wood chips or sawdust or whatever, into their water.

Adult poultry will stand on their bowls and dishes and turn them over, two seconds after you filled them.

Goats POOP DOWN, and will poop into any dish/bowl/tub that is on the ground, contaminating either their feed or their water.

Cattle… well cattle poop down too, and when they do that’s A LOT of poop so again, you can’t put their feed on the ground.

How about hay? Livestock trample hay, and will trample it while peeing and pooping all over it.

And then, oh my goodness, they begin eating it…

Food and water containers need to be ELEVATED. What height? They need to be almost head-high, both so they can eat/drink, BUT they can’t defecate into the container.

Though that said, I swear that my Nigerian Dwarf Goats can somehow defecate goat pellets up over their head somehow…