How Smart Are Goats? (The Tale of Buster the Burglar)
A couple of years ago, in the middle of a sub-zero winter, Dan came home from work to be greeted by goats peeking out of an open house door. Our doors are fitted with handles instead of knobs, and Buster the goat had figured out how to work the handle. They had spent the entire day playing in our house – a major clean-up effort followed!
Since then we've tried the following strategies:
1. Electrifying the handle with a fence energizer. RESULT: The brass handle doesn’t adequately carry a charge, plus no good way to ground the goat trying to open the handle.
2. Replace the handle with a knob. RESULT: The manufacturer does not make a knob for the door.
3. Reposition the outside handle to a less-convenient position. RESULT: Buster figured it out.
4. Build a box around the handle. RESULT: Could not design something that would either attach or work.
5. Cut down and reposition the handle. RESULT: This fix worked the longest; however, Buster finally figured it out.
6. Spray the handle with a chemical deterrent. RESULT: This stuff is made to keep horses from “cribbing”; however, Buster just wrinkled-up and ignored the stuff.
7. Construct a spiked mace-like snap-on extension to discourage the goat. RESULT: Buster figured out how to pull down the handle by grabbing one of the screw ends with his teeth and lips. Also, Gus (one of our other goats) would use the spikes to scratch an itch on the top of his head.
8. Retrofit the door hardware to accept an antique knob. RESULT: The exterior frame does not provide necessary clearance for a knob.
9. Cut the handle down to a size almost resembling a knob. RESULT: This is our latest attempt. The verdict is still out on this one. Running out of options here.