Hello all, I'm new to goats...I have about ten acres that are totally overgrown with thick old bushy buckthorn and honeysuckle, among other things. I've found a goat rental near me but my heart just sank a moment ago when I found out that the owner will only be bringing out five of them! I imagined a really large herd! What can five goats (plus maybe a sheep) do in a week? What do I do after they're gone? I'm afraid that everything will just grow back...I remain stumped about how to clear this land...I'd like to see fruit trees/guilds out there eventually I'm in 5b, upstate NY
IF you want it cleared quickly and replantable this year you'll either need a whole lot more goats/sheep (like 50 or even 100) or you'll need land clearing equipment. Depending on what there is besides buckthorn and honeysuckle, you could get by with a mini-excavator, or you might need a forestry mulcher if there a lot of small trees to remove, or in the worst case a dozer if you need to do serious grading and stump removal. Anything else will be far too time consuming.
Is he bringing his own fencing? If so just mark out a smaller area for the goats to clear, or set up some of your own fencing. I think that getting a smaller area clearer would be better than getting the entire thing lightly nibbled.
maria holden wrote:What can five goats (plus maybe a sheep) do in a week? What do I do after they're gone? I'm afraid that everything will just grow back.
Maria, your concerns are spot on. It takes a long time for goats to clear an area so that it stays cleared.
What I would do, is have them concentrate on whatever area you can reasonably manage once the goats have done their job. They'll do a good job on the leafy growth and branches they can reach, but you may have to dig out roots of things you don't want growing back. Then I'd try to get a cover crop down. That would be my start, with a plan to gradually work on conquering the area you have in mind.
You might want to look into pigs. Pigs are used to clear forest and scrub/bush quite often. I’ve even read about some folks having pigs and goats together and that they get along and work well and compliment each other (I haven’t confirmed that yet, but I’d be willing to try it)... There are a few videos on YouTube... Here is one I found from just a quick search, it’s not too bad and provides a pretty good idea of how good pigs can be at clearing dense forest areas to either clear them completely or morph them into silvopasture (they can do extremely high impact or a nice gentle clear and disturb so you can slowly seed it and morph it into your desired use.
So pigs might be another animal other than goats, (or perhaps paired with goats) that might work in your situation.
I developed a wireless rotational grazing tractor for goats using a PetSafe Stay & Play radio transmitter. I’ve been using it for over a year and it’s amazing. No fencing. No pre-clearing paths for electro-net. It changes the game in terms of using goats to clear.
I have adapted this system to a road-worthy trailer and will be renting my goats this year in southern oregon.
Phil Grady wrote:goats are great for land clearance. apparently pigs are also very good.
there are two reasons i chose goats over pigs.
1. when purchasing the property we were told that they were not allowed.
2. and this may be the reason for 1 pigs can cause ground water contamination..
as were on well water and sooner or later get back what ever we put into it. i didn't fancy drinking or washing in pig waste.
You were given incorrect information Phill. Pigs can’t contaminate ground water any more than any other animal. It’s not like they have a drill rig on their back... They are just pigs and if they eat an organic diet, they have organic poop... Just like chickens, raccoons, or any other omnivore.
Pigs clear land differently than goats, and that can be good, bad, both, neither, or some combination. It’s just different and it’s only as destructive as we let it be (amount of time in one place).
I suspect someone might have gotten confused and passed that along in the form of misinformation. But it makes no sense when you think about it. They are just an animal.