‘Just fabulous’: nanny goat bought from dairy farm feeds and mothers orphaned foal


  • A nanny goat who had never been outside and a foal orphaned before she was a day old have formed an “incredible bond”, the goat climbing up bales of straw to feed “her” baby.

    Trudy Goulding of End House Stud, Lancashire was heartbroken to lose her thoroughbred mare Beauthea hours after she had given birth to a filly by Irish draught stallion Irish Mist.

    But the filly, Sophea, now has a new mother in the form of Nana, who Trudy bought from a local farm.

    “How could I separate them now?” Trudy said. “It’s absolutely incredible.”

    Trudy told H&H Beauthea, an Irish mare who had had a successful racing career and bred successful racehorses, went into labour on Friday night (31 March).

    “She was a beautiful little mare and we were getting really excited; my partner Adam said he was going to show her and the foal at the Great Yorkshire Show,” she said.

    “She foaled a beautiful filly and she was fine, we were watching all night and she was fine in the morning. After lunch she started looking a bit uncomfortable, as some mares do.The vet was coming that afternoon anyway to blood-test the foal so we monitored her.

    “She’d eaten her breakfast and a bit of lunch, but I went to do something, came back and she was wet through, shivering and sweating. I rang the vet who came straight away.”

    It was found that Beauthea had a twisted gut and there was nothing that could be done to save her.

    “She’d twisted her gut and it had burst,” Trudy said. “I couldn’t believe it; that isn’t what happens.

    “The vet asked if we had milk powder and I said no and he said I’d have to get goat’s milk. I said I’d probably be better off getting a goat; he laughed and off he went.”

    But Trudy had seen footage of a goat feeding an orphaned foal, so she rang a friend and asked if he knew of anyone with a nanny in milk.

    “Just down the road there’s a dairy farm where they milk about 1,000 goats. I asked if they had one and said how much. The man said £150 so they shot off; Adam and our friend Ryan, to get her. I asked what her name was and the man looked at me like I was mad and said she was number whatever; bless her, she didn’t have a name. I said ‘I’m going to call her Nana’.

    “We put her in the stable, and the foal looked, and Nana looked, and we put her up on some bales of straw. One of us held Nana and one the foal, and the foal started to drink. I thought ‘Oh my god’.”

    Trudy initially thought they would lift Nana up on to the straw every two hours until she had bought the milk powder, but she soon found out the new mother and baby had taken matters into their own hooves.

    “I walked past the stable and thought ‘What’s going on?’” she said. “Nana had climbed up the straw steps and the foal drinks and she just stands there, licking her and washing her.

    “We put them out in the paddock on Monday and I thought maybe Nana needed another goat so I put a pygmy one out there – and she charged it, wouldn’t let it near her foal. I took the pygmy out, and the foal was following Nana round the field. And that’s how it is.”

    Trudy is topping up the foal’s intake to make sure she has enough but the pair are now happy together.

    “They’ve really bonded; how could I take Nana away?” she said. “I imagine she had a kid and it was taken away so maybe she thinks her kid has come back, just three times the height! She talks to the foal and licks her, it’s unbelievable. The foal needed a friend so we’ve left them together, and Nana climbs up the straw and feeds her baby. They’re just like a mare and foal. Sophea needs a mother and Nana would be distraught if I took her away.”

    Trudy plans to leave the pair together as she would a mare and foal, and then take Nana to a billy in September so she can have a baby of her own.

    “Nana probably got in the trailer and thought ‘That’s me done’,” she said. “Then she came here with horses, dogs and a baby, a very large baby. They said she’d never been outside, but here she is, in fresh air and sunshine and with her baby.

    “Beauthea should be here with her baby – her friend has now foaled and they should be together but they’re not. But we’re looking after her baby. Nana’s in charge. She licks her and cleans her and they curl up together to go to bed – it’s just fabulous.”

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