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Should I allow my neighbor to raise goats on a piece of my land?

 
pollinator
Posts: 238
Location: Italian Alps, Zone 8
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One of our plots of land, borders a small gardenless house that was, as of recently, uninhabited for the past 20 years.
We've heard the news that it was just recently sold to a young man, and that said man was possibly interested in making a deal so he could raise a few goats on the land bordering his property.

This specific plot of land is about 920m2, fairly steep, completely overgrown (a lot of black locust, brambles, some paradise trees...) as it has been neglected for at least 20 years, and most importantly, it has a natural spring situated at the top of the hill, which is why we were keen on having this piece of land. We were planning to fence of the spring and to clean up the rest of the land to plant some guilds with fruit trees / berry bushes and to use as pasture for our chickens and geese, but this was something we were planning to do in the far future, as we have more pressing things at hand.

I had been thinking of bringing in goats to help clear up the plot, but more of a temporary thing where I'd borrow someones goats for a few months. Although i really like goats, I do not think I have the recourses, nor the time to dedicate on raising goats myself right now.

So then there's this neighbor that wants to keep goats on our land. I'm not completely adverse to the idea (because I like goats and they could help clear the plot), but I have several worries / thoughts:
-920m2 isn't a lot for goats, especially if you want the goats to be kept in a healthy and responsible way (I would be thrilled if my neighbor had any interest in permaculture principles, but I'm not keeping my hopes up). I cannot imagine keeping more than 2 goats on a plot like this, without risk of overgrazing. But then again, I do not know a lot about keeping goats.
- I do not wish to sell this plot of land as it holds the valuable spring. So I would only be interested in renting the plot (or having some sort of exchange deal if money is an issue for the neighbor). But that can make things complex, because I don't know who would be responsible for the fencing of the property. And what if this guy keeps the goats in a bad way (bad fencing, or he puts in too many, causing them to constantly break out and enter my orchard/garden)? Allowing him to keep goats, and then 2 years later if I don't think it is working out, forcing him to sell his goats again, doesn't seem like a nice way to build a neighborly relationship.
- I do not want this steep hill to be browsed completely empty, to avoid risk of erosion, so after initial clearing I would still like to be able to plant trees in the plot to keep the stability of the soil. I don't know how realistic this could be without the goats eating whatever tree I try to plant.
- I still would like to use the plot to occasionally let my geese, ducks and chickens on, while their other pasture is regrowing. I've read that poultry and goats can pasture together, but I wonder how much green will be left for the poultry on a plot this small if there's already goats there. Would there be enough for both?
-In any case I would need to keep the goats out of the spring part, to avoid contaminating the water. I can of course route a part of the water so they can drink it, but I really want to avoid contamination of the main source.

What do you guys think? Should I allow my neighbor to keep goats on my property, and if so, what, if any, limitations or demands should I propose (for example a limitation to the number of goats, perhaps a trial period to see if things are working out? Him allowing my chickens to pasture occasionally together with the goats....)? What do you think? Is this a good idea or a mess that is waiting to happen? Am I overlooking important considerations?
Ofcourse I welcome the opportunity to create a sense of community and it would be nice to find a situation that benefits both me and my neighbor. Perhaps he could be interested in learning more about permaculture principles. Or be willing to help out in the orchard / garden in exchange for using my plot to keep goats.... I just want to avoid getting myself into a situation I will regret.
PHOTO-2020-05-10-11-26-03.JPG
here's an example of a similar overgrown slope. I don't have pictures of the actual plot, but this one is rather similar
here's an example of a similar overgrown slope. I don't have pictures of the actual plot, but this one is rather similar
Goats.jpg
You can see the plot marked out with the red cross. The neighbors house is marked with the black cross. The blue swirly lines is the location of the spring
You can see the plot marked out with the red cross. The neighbors house is marked with the black cross. The blue swirly lines is the location of the spring
 
Posts: 13
Location: Missouri Ozarks
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A properly written lease could address all of these issues and more if you wanted. I have seen leases that spell out things like access to water, how often animals are to be rotated, fertilizer applications, fencing, etc. A good lease should also provide provision for dispute resolution and be no more than 1 year at a time. It can always be renewed or extended. It may and a good idea to include something like either party can terminate the lease at any time with 60 days notice. The way to approach this is that everything is agreed upon at the outset and everyone knows the rules. This will help avoid conflict as neither party can say “I didn’t know.” Try to make it specific enough to address as many core issues as possible, but not so specific that it becomes too big. Your neighbor should absolutely be a co-creator of this so that there’s no feeling of “you made me agree to all these things.”

Having said that, the first thing I would do is meet this neighbor and see what he is all about. Perhaps invite him over for dinner to get to know him. Don’t bring up him keeping goats on the land unless he does so that you avoid having to tell him no straight away if you get a bad vibe from him. If he brings it up, say you’ll have to think about it and ask what his plans are, why he wants to keep goats, experience, most inspirational thing he has seen/read about keeping them, etc.

I hope this helps.
 
gardener
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Location: southern Illinois.
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The above .... and....discuss each of your concerns with your neighbor.
 
S. Bard
pollinator
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Location: Italian Alps, Zone 8
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Thanks AJ and John for your input!
I agree that a meet-up with the neighbor first needs to take place. But I think it’s good to be prepared in case the topic comes up.
If I would consider an agreement I will make sure to get everything stipulated in the lease.

I, however, do not have any experience with goats, so I’m not sure what would be a good way to go about it. So any insight you might be able to give me about goatkeeping on this property would be very useful!
How many goats could be put on this land without risk of overgrazing and how would you go about it? Divide the land into two or more strips so the goats can be rotated? Just use it as a single pasture? What trees/ shrubs should I consider planting? What kind of fencing would you suggest that could work both for goats as chickens/geese?

Thanks!
 
pollinator
Posts: 487
Location: San Diego, California
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If he wants to raise goats for milk or as pets, it'd be pretty tough to convince him to get rid of them once you're ready to develop the site.

If he just wants to get a few kids every spring to raise up to butcher weight, you might be able to ask him to stop the year that you are ready.

Unfortunately I've seen "you give them an inch, they take a mile" and the feelings of entitlement that come along with "giving permission" too many times...
 
A J Stevens
Posts: 13
Location: Missouri Ozarks
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S. Bard wrote:Thanks AJ and John for your input!


How many goats could be put on this land without risk of overgrazing and how would you go about it? Divide the land into two or more strips so the goats can be rotated? Just use it as a single pasture? What trees/ shrubs should I consider planting? What kind of fencing would you suggest that could work both for goats as chickens/geese?

Thanks!



If I have done the math right, you basically have .22 acres. How many goats will definitely depend on management and breed. For example, 2 Nigerian dwarf goats eat a lot less than 2 boer goats. I feel it is better to understock an area than overstock it, unless you have the ability to remove animals at will. I’d start with 2 and see how it goes. You don’t want a desert.
All my goat experience is in a farm situation as just brush/weed control, not milking. I use electric netting to move them around. Someone with smaller acreage and milking goat experience would probably be better qualified to weigh in, but
personally if I had an area like this I would split it into at least 2, but 4 would be better. Any rotation is better than none.  I’d set up a small shelter in the middle if possible. I’d deep litter the inside so that I could use that in compost creation. If predators are an issue, they would get locked away at night, this would also ease manure load in the paddocks, which could be a concern. If I had 4 paddocks, I’d have a door in each wall or something creative like that. From the shelter I would run my different fences out to the perimeter so the shelter is the hub. Then every week they would go to a new paddock, that gives 28 days between grazings. But this has to be monitored. It might be too long with such small paddocks.

Always fence to the most specific requirement. A chicken tight fence will also be goose tight and if strong and high enough, be goat tight (which is a bit of a contradiction haha). Electric poultry netting would work well with dwarf goats.

My goats eat anything that isn’t poisonous. They will really appreciate shrubbery.

gift
 
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