Goats the Original Weedeater
September 19, 2011, 8:52 am
Filed under: September
Up Close and Personal

September 19, 2011

     Goats are a intregal part of our pasture management plan. They eat weeds and brush that no other animal will. They not only eat it, they relish it! It is a wonderful thing seeing the goats eat the seed heads off of ragweed, quack grass and thistle. They devour poison ivy, burdock and young multi-flora rose. They get into places that the brush hog can’t. They are wonderful critters well suited for this purpose.
     Currently, the goats are in a field that is mostly second-growth trees and brush. I am working to clear this 4 acres of all the cull trees. I will leave plenty of straight trees and create a sort of wooded pasture. The goats eat the new growth on the stumps and any new brush that is trying to make a start.
     Goats are great browsers, but not very efficient grazers. I have a young steer in the pasture with them. He eats the grasses and clovers that the goats only pick at. By the time the goats have clipped all the weeds and brush, the steer will have eaten the good stuff down and they will all be moved to a different paddock.
     Multi-specie grazing has built our pastures to text-book grazing areas. The animals eat it down to about 3 inches, then we move them. The young stock goes in first, followed by the larger sheep, then cattle. The horses eat last. Then the whole paddock is mowed and left to rest and re-grow. It is working very well for us.
     Our pigs get to be the last ones on the pastures before they are plowed down for corn. They are hard on pastures due to their rooting. I used to think the rooting was a bad thing, but then discovered that on almost every occasion, the pigs are rooting out the quack grass-roots. They love the tender white rootlets. Once the pigs are done, the quack grass is all but eradicated… and without any chemical spray of any kind!
     I put the goats on a tether often, to mow the outside of a fence line. They will eat the weeds. After a short time, I follow along with our ram. He gets to eat the very best grasses that the goats have snubbed their noses at. He is doing very well on the lush grass.
     Goats make great pets and are wonderful animals for weed control. The biggest factor for goats is that you must have good fences. When I say good, I mean fences that will almost hold water 😮  They are escape artists. Once they are loose, they like to come up on your porch, jump up on the cars…especially visiting family members cars. The love to eat flowers and landscape and leave a trail of poop balls everywhere they go … not bad in the pasture, but not good on sidewalks!
     Goats as weedeaters work very well. They are easy to start, require no gasoline and make their own replacements. They are loveable creatures who really love their humans, especially children. I will have them as part of my farm plan for as long as I farm … especially now, since our fences are good! 

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