Foal finds maternal attention of the goat variety

Lisa Dicamillo helps a foal nurse off of Vickie the goat after the mare died soon after the foal was born. Dicamillo, who raises horses at her Golden Hills Ranch northwest of Fruita, put the goat and the foal together in one pen for convenience and noticed that the foal had learned on his own to nurse from the goat.

Victory is hungry. And he lets Vicky know about it.

The gangly newborn thrusts a leg toward her. He pokes his nose into her space.

Sometimes she ignores him. Other times she butts heads with him, informing him it isn’t time yet. But in the end she relents, climbs up on a metal tub and lets him nurse.

It doesn’t matter that Vicky isn’t Victory’s mother. Or that Victory is a horse and Vicky is a goat.

For Lisa DiCamillo, the bond that quickly formed between the animals two weeks ago marked a warm moment in what can often be the emotionless, survival-of-the-fittest world of animal husbandry. It also represented a high point in what was an otherwise rough conclusion to the week.

“You end up with something special out of the whole weekend,” she said.

It began with the foal’s birth early on the morning of May 20 at DiCamillo’s 37-acre farm west of Fruita. Then DiCamillo, a six-year officer with the Fruita Police Department, found herself consumed with the investigation of a rare fatal shooting at a Fruita mobile home park. Hours after that, in the early morning hours of May 22, DiCamillo and her roommate found dead Star, the 20-year-old mare who gave birth to Victory.

That’s when DiCamillo’s neighbors sprang into action. Within hours, All Around Feed & Farmacy manager Patti Heinz provided grain for the newborn. Sherman and Melissa Russell, a couple she had never met, lent her Vicky, a 5-year-old LaMancha goat.

DiCamillo wanted the goat so she could milk her and feed the milk to the foal. The horse, though, chose to cut out the middlewoman. By the night of the 22nd, he had sought out Vicky on his own and taken milk from her directly. It only made sense, then, for Victory’s name to derive from Vicky.

“Everything lined up. Everything you could want to happen did happen in a very short period of time,” DiCamillo said.

Victory also takes milk from another mare at DiCamillo’s farm, but most of his liquid sustenance comes from Vicky. So far, the goat has produced more than a gallon and a half for Victory.

DiCamillo said she’s heard of goats nursing horses but had never experienced it before in her 15 years of raising horses.

“To me, it also shows his own will to survive and adapt and overcome,” she said.

Without nursing on Vicky and the mare, DiCamillo said Victory would have been slow to act like a horse, and she would have been afraid to turn him out into the field with her other horses in a couple of weeks.


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