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Brush clearing goats: fact or fantasy?

 
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Hello Everyone,

We are getting ready to dive into our new property. One of my first projects will be clearing and repairing perimeter fencing.

I know that, at times, goats will eat most anything. But, are they really effective at clearing brush?

Can I picket a few of them along the fence line and expect good results in a reasonable amount of time?

Thanks.

Stephen
 
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I feel goats very well will clear brush.  At least the scrubby stuff.

Define brush?

If you want small trees removed then that answer will be: they might clear small trees.

Steve said, "Can I picket a few of them along the fence line and expect good results in a reasonable amount of time?



A few will make a considerable impact on one-half acre.  How much land do you expect them to clean?

Too many variable without more information.



 
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Hey Steve, I have started experimenting with fencing off our 3 girls in the thick forest edge on our property in order to clear out unwanted vines and brambles and to hopefully improve the soil over time.  I have now been letting them graze for 4+ weeks with varying success.  They prefer to eat the leaves off of any trees/vines that they can reach, but they won't eat the entire plant.  So after I moved them from the first paddock to the second, the blackberry vines, Asian Honeysuckle, and greenbriar for example were still standing, just stripped of leaves.  They did seem to trample down the areas to make them more accessible for me to get in there with a chainsaw or string trimmer with brush blade and clear out the large vines and brambles.  They also girdled a few tulip poplar and sweet gum trees which I wasn't very happy about.  As far as the poison ivy growing on the ground, they don't seem to like eating this.
 
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You can get highly effective brush clearing with goats, or hair sheep which are less challenging to contain usually.  BUT.  You need to concentrate enough of them in a small enough area that they can eat the overgrowth much faster than it can grow back.  If you only get two or three goats/sheep you'll be disappointed unless it's a small suburban yard (which I rather doubt is the case).  Remember that most ruminants only eat about 2% of their body weight daily.  That is in dry matter, so if it's wet brush, that might be as much as 3-6% depending on moisture content.  So a 100lb goat/sheep will only consume 3-6lbs of grass/brush in a day.  With very overgrown land you can be looking at needing to clear on a scale of perhaps up to a ton per acre.  You might need to put a pretty large number of animals (like 100 if you have multiple very overgrown acres) on the property initially to quickly gain control and then pare back to a more sustainable number once the overgrowth is all gone.  

If you're willing to be patient, and put in some extra labor, you can get a more modest number to start with and then contain them to small areas and rotate them around the property.  That will clear small sections of the land quickly and thoroughly.  But it will take a while to clear everything.

Also, bear in mind that with brush the goats (and sheep) usually won't eat the real woody bits like the old dried up canes from blackberries.  They might strip the bark and leaves from volunteer saplings but leave the woody stem.  So you'll still have to clear that stuff out by hand (or machine).  But that will be 1% or less of the work compared to clearing everything without the animals eating it down first.  
 
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Here is one of my favorite videos about clearing and successioning brushy forest with goats, permaculture work that is being done in Australia by the Goathand Cooperative.  They are doing it for both helping to reduce wildfire and restoring grassland and wallaby and other animal habitat. The goats are amazing for this work. In this region, the forests have filled with non-native blackberry undergrowth.



One thing I want to point out so no one misses it, and it's something that seems obvious to most people who have already been raising goats awhile so can be overlooked. Be very careful if tethering goats in one place.  Sometimes people do this so they will clear only one spot.  Tethering goats to or nearby trees can be dangerous as goats climb and can hang themselves very easily. Besides that, they will ring a tree of bark, as mentioned above.

 
Andrew Mayflower
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Kim Goodwin wrote:
One thing I want to point out so no one misses it, and it's something that seems obvious to most people who have already been raising goats awhile so can be overlooked. Be very careful if tethering goats in one place.  Sometimes people do this so they will clear only one spot.  Tethering goats to or nearby trees can be dangerous as goats climb and can hang themselves very easily. Besides that, they will ring a tree of bark, as mentioned above.



It is a poor choice to tether any animal (where legal to do so) unless monitored by a responsible adult.  This applies to dogs just as much as livestock.  
 
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I'm curious about this as well. We just purchased a 10 acre lot, and we're interested in the use of goats to clear the northern section (outlined in white in the picture). It's a little over an acre, partly treed. There is a large clump of mostly elm and blackberry in the center, with grassy walkways around it. There are A LOT of blackberries. We also noted poison ivy in the eastern part of the area in the trees, and a lot of vines that are weighing everything down.

We've considered maybe a goat rental service since we don't live onsite (it's about 3 hours away from us). We like the idea of using goats v other options as it's less disruptive to the land, and more beneficial, but we're unsure of the actual logistics of doing it this way, and how much "clearing" to expect.  
Northern-clearing.png
Satellite view of area (bottom of the pic is the north boundary)
Satellite view of area (bottom of the pic is the north boundary)
Northern-Clearing-onsite-snapshot.png
Picture from the Northwest corner
Picture from the Northwest corner
 
Andrew Mayflower
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R Thompson wrote:I'm curious about this as well. We just purchased a 10 acre lot, and we're interested in the use of goats to clear the northern section (outlined in white in the picture). It's a little over an acre, partly treed. There is a large clump of mostly elm and blackberry in the center, with grassy walkways around it. There are A LOT of blackberries. We also noted poison ivy in the eastern part of the area in the trees, and a lot of vines that are weighing everything down.

We've considered maybe a goat rental service since we don't live onsite (it's about 3 hours away from us). We like the idea of using goats v other options as it's less disruptive to the land, and more beneficial, but we're unsure of the actual logistics of doing it this way, and how much "clearing" to expect.  



If there's a goat rental service some questions to ask them will be if they will use temporary fencing (eg electronet) to concentrate the goats to small areas to effectively clear them, and how often they would move the goats to a new section.  They can give you a reasonable estimate for long it would take the goats to clear the brush out (which depends on number of goats and degree of overgrowth), and what will be left for you to deal with.  Most likely you'll have the old, dry, woody canes from the blackberries and the hard woody cores small shrubs and trees to deal with.  Also anything the goats really don't like.  I have lots of foxglove on my place, and unsurprisingly my sheep don't touch it.
 
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Friends of mine with a nasty blackberry thicket along their stream put half a dozen goats to work on it a year ago. I'd estimate the coverage of brambles was an acre or more and they were 2-3m tall in most places...impenetrable to humans. It's now chewed down to stumps, mostly ankle high or less. They want to avoid using toxic gick on these, so the last phase of control is going to be frying them with an LPG burner.
 
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Phil Stevens wrote:Friends of mine with a nasty blackberry thicket along their stream put half a dozen goats to work on it a year ago. I'd estimate the coverage of brambles was an acre or more and they were 2-3m tall in most places...impenetrable to humans. It's now chewed down to stumps, mostly ankle high or less. They want to avoid using toxic gick on these, so the last phase of control is going to be frying them with an LPG burner.



Noooooo!  Fire propagates blackberries.  Seriously.  Mow the area and/or keep the goats on the land.  The blackberries, if they can’t ever grow over 4” tall will eventually be outcompeted by the grass.  It takes a few years, but that does work.
 
Phil Stevens
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They have other plans (as in not grass) and burning the stumps is the best of a range of imperfect solutions. What they are trying to do is regenerate the riparian system, so they will be using biochar in sediment traps to do filtration, slow and spread the flow, and raise the downcut channel. Along the margins they will be planting flaxes, reeds, and water-loving trees. All the grazing animals will be excluded when the planting happens.

They know that they will be grubbing blackberry shoots for the next few years until the overstory of desired species starts to form a closed canopy. It's moving into the attrition phase of the campaign now thanks to the goats.
 
Steve Smyth
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.......... I am gonna need a lot of goats.......... Two acres is in pretty good shape but the other 38 are kinda thick



I am really just looking at having them groom the fence line. About 3/4 mile.
 
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Steve,

Several years ago I cleared a section of thorny wild blackberries out of my woods after a storm blew down trees and let in lots of light to what had been a fairly dark area.  And I mean the blackberries were THICK and TALL!  I used a combination of a small, subcompact tractor w/ bush hog, gently poking into the brambles in reverse, a weed eater with a brush blade and a machete!  It took me the better part of a year to clear about 1/4 acre.

I had neighbors down the road in a similar situation and they cleared their 1/4 acre(ish) with goats in one weekend!  

I should have been so smart!

Eric
 
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We have 3 does.  I rotate them into a few brushy spots to knock down the brush.  I have plans to do more clearing... but I have to string some fence, and I just don't have the time!
I also cut a lot of branches and feed it to them in their normal pen. But then I have to pick up sticks.  
 
Steve Smyth
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Question:

Can goats live entirely on forage? Or mostly on forage?

If feed costs are low, I don't see any reason not to put 6-12 goats along my fence line contained by movable electric fence (Premier1?).

Maybe fence off a 20'x100' stretch and turn them loose. Moving the fencing every few days.
 
Joshua LeDuc
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Steve Smyth wrote:Question:

Can goats live entirely on forage? Or mostly on forage?

If feed costs are low, I don't see any reason not to put 6-12 goats along my fence line contained by movable electric fence (Premier1?).

Maybe fence off a 20'x100' stretch and turn them loose. Moving the fencing every few days.



Steve - yes, goats can live off of forage, loose mineral and fresh water.  We give our three goats 3 cups of whole grain feed per day (so not much at all).  

A lot of people use the Premiere fence, but I am very happy with my Gallagher Smart Fence.  

https://www.gallagherfence.net/products/smart-fence-portable-corral

I find the Gallagher quicker and easier to navigate through the forest edge and the Gallagher has 328 LF of perimeter where the Premiere is around 100 LF.  I have been moving my goats every 1.5-2 weeks, which is a lot less work than moving them every couple of days.  Of course you need to monitor the browse, as some areas have more for them to eat than other areas.  
 
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The only time I tie goats out is when I want them to knock grass and weeds down in an otherwise clear area -- someplace where there isn't anything for them to get tangled up on.  And they can get tangled on the smallest things -- a hummock of grass, or a short stub of a small tree that's been cut off.  Otherwise, they need to be fenced securely.  Right now I have three Nigerian Dwarfs, each in an 8' square pen made of utility panels (like cattle panels, but smaller holes), and am moving them around a really weedy area.  The 8' x 8' area is just about right for one day for these little guys (they also get a handful of grain and some mineral salt, and of course water).  The pens each have a tarp over one corner to give them shade and protection from rain.  I can move these around among trees where I couldn't tie them out without constant tangling.  With only three goats, at this time of the year, they can't keep up with the amount of stuff we have available for them to eat, so I'm concentrating on the area closest to the house.  Before, when I had more goats (and larger goats), they did a really good job of cleaning up the fence rows as high as they could reach.  One other reason I prefer the small pens is because I can attach their water buckets to the panels, which prevents the goats from spilling it.  Also I clip the buckets up high enough that the goat in the pen can reach the water, but can't pee or poop in the bucket.  

You will have to eyeball both the vegetation and your animals; keep an eye on the condition of both.  Move the goats as necessary to make sure they get enough to eat.  Add animals if necessary to keep the vegetation under control.  Move the goats before they scalp everything and eat it down too much.  And start small, learn what you are doing, before you add animals.  You'll need at least two to start with, as goats are herd animals and hate to be alone, but if you've never had goats, two or three is enough to start out with.

Don't use electric fencing as your sole perimeter fence, by the way, and don't put goats into an electric fenced pen unless they are already used to and respect the hot wires.  Otherwise they will go straight through it, and if they are new to your property, they are likely to disappear into the nearest woods and you'll never see them again.  Train them to respect hot wires before you put them into any pen that doesn't also have a good strong physical barrier to keep them in.  Cattle panels work well, or any of the rigid fence panels except hog panels (which are too short for most goats).  I got utility panels because Nigerian Dwarf kids could go through the holes in regular cattle panels when they are small, but if you have larger goats, cattle panels should be fine.  

Kathleen

ETA: I have a livestock guardian dog who protects my goats.  I don't tie mine out very often, but I would NEVER tie them out without that protection.  
 
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Does anyone know of a goat rental service in the Hudson River Valley in New York State?

I have a meadow that needs a mow, but I'd much rather feed it to goats than some fossil fuel burning machine. But I don't think I have the wherewithal to buy and take care of goats, as we have a number of wild animals that would probably prey on them, and serious winter weather, and all of that.

So rental seems like it'd be easier, but I can't find anyone in my area.
 
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@Laurel: Can you just leave them in the forest at night, or do you have to bring them back to a secure barn at the end of every day? I would love to do this, but I can't see how to keep them from predation without a ton of work of this kind.
 
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Joshua Frank wrote:@Laurel: Can you just leave them in the forest at night, or do you have to bring them back to a secure barn at the end of every day? I would love to do this, but I can't see how to keep them from predation without a ton of work of this kind.



Funny you mention that, the week following the invasives class, i took a class on small ruminant management.  SIPAC has a large herd of hair sheep, and a large herd of goats.  They move them around the farm (which btw has no perimeter fence, but is quite big) using electric netting powered by solar chargers.  They have coyotes on the farm, but have never once had a predation issue with the sheep or goats that are protected in electric netting fences.  They do not keep LGDs in with their small ruminant flocks/herds.  I'd imagine if you wanted to have your ruminants on the existing fence line, this may present more of an issue as you can't just electrify a small portion of an existing fence, you also have the added wrinkle of needing to clear a line in the brush to run your fence through, but as long as you could totally encircle the animals in electric netting that's kept spicy, you should be fine.  We specifically went with 48" high netting to reduce the chances that coyotes could jump the fence.


FWIW, we are bringing a handful of hair sheep onto our farm(which we presently live 35 minutes from, but will hopefully be moved onto by next spring), which has coyotes on it and intend to run them in the premier one nets that I got.  We will not initially have a guard animal, but I'm hoping to pick up a donkey to keep with them sooner rather than later, as I'm the type that prefers an abundance of caution.  
 
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We use our goats to clear our property. We had lots of invasives, honeysuckle and brambles, the goats cleared it all.

Generally speaking I think the ratio is 2-3 goats to a half acre, in a week it's cleared. It really depends  on the plants. Don't offer hay during this time.

Just to echo some of the above. Only tether a goat you will have eyes on. A small twig/branch can cause strangulation. Goats only understand moving forward. they don't seem to learn how to untangle themselves.

Portable electric fence is great if you train your goats to it. That's why goat renting is a good choice for newbies. The electric fence should be the secondary fence.

Goats don't like being wet and will seek shelter if it's going to rain. Otherwise they can be left out in the field or forest.

We also have two LGD's with our herd too.
 
R Thompson
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This is so interesting- love this thread!

So, it seems to me that this is probably a good long-term maintenance approach best suited for someone onsite managing their own small herd, able to move them around as needed, etc. and clear the remaining stuff once they've grazed as they go. Sort of a patient, little bit over time kind of thing.

For a more aggressive clearing project, it sounds like a larger herd for a kind of fixed time on a certain area may be good, and likely best if can rent a herd or work with other local goat people to get a decent size herd to really get in there and do their business, then move on while you go back in and clean up the rest of what is left.

So, it seems that if your intent is to clear land to, say, build a house, and you need it done quickly, this may not be best. However, if you're just needing some areas cleared and maintained, like underbrush areas or meadows, etc., this could work really well long term.  

The hard part becomes finding a herd to do the work as needed... I found, by googling, a couple of goat rental directories, but the listings are far and few between in most areas. I would suspect that, if there is a local goat person in your area who doesn't currently do this, they may be open to it if they have the ability to transport to your location and have fencing to keep them protected- and it's basically worth their time and effort. Maybe asking around would even inspire someone to open a new revenue stream they hadn't thought of before.    

Lots of food for thought!
 
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Many good suggestions.  I will toss out another sorry if I missed this one when scrolling through the posts.  If you are going to get goats to clear brush, you need to get goats that have been used to eating brush and weeds.  If you go buy a pampered dairy goat or someone's pet nigerian dwarfs or pygmy goats, you probably won't get the results you want.   Also don't buy show wethers.  If you want brush eating goats, buy brush eating goats.  Go look at what the goats you are buying are eating.  Goats learn a lot from other goats and from their Mom's.  If the other goats are eating brush and clearing weeds and pushing down small saplings so they can get at the leaves on the saplings, then those goats will clear brush.   If the goats are in a small lot and get hay and grain and everything handed to them, look else where for goats.  

While I do feed my goats supplemental feed even when they are on pasture because I get free feed from a craft brewery, my goats will eat brush, they love it. If you want to kill the brush, you have to keep them in the area much longer so they are forced to eat more of the tips of the brambles and twigs on shrubs and brush and saplings.  Protect any trees you want to keep. If you keep goats in an area long enough to kill brush they will for sure girdle a tree and kill it. Probably one that you wanted to keep. Some goats love certain trees. My goats love cedar trees. They even strip the bark off of them when they have plenty of other stuff to eat. No cedar trees left  that the goats can reach.  My goats will get together in group and push down small brush and saplings so they can eat the leaves. I have to move my goats often enough so they don't kill everything because for my goats it is important food.  My goats will also get together and push down fence if there is tasty stuff on the other side.  When you have ten or twenty 100 lb goats climbing on a 16 foot cattle panel they will push over the cattle panel and the t- posts supporting it even if you have t-posts every 8 feet.  

Moving electronet through scrubby bramble infested area is a pain it gets stuck on everything and if you yank on it to free it you can ruin your electronet.  Takes a lot of patience to move electronet in those type of conditions.....hence, I permanently fenced in my rotational grazing pastures all 7 of them and the winter pasture and the buck pasture.  And a small prayer of gratitude was sent up that i  don't have to move that electronet all the time. LOL

If you don't go the goat route, I used a Stilh FS-240 with a saw blade on it to clear enough space to thread cattle panels through so i could fence without tearing out all the old trees in the original fence line.  It could take down trees 3 or 4 inches in diameter all the other brush did not stand a chance.   I had grazed goats in those areas with my electronet but they couldn't take down trees of that diameter.  I also used the 4 point harness and the FS-240 with handle bars.  Makes all the difference in the world.   I don't use the FS-240 anymore, I use a 40 volt ryobi with a brush cutter blade to clear under my high tensile fence so it will still conduct electricity. I have a combo of cattle panels, high tensile and goat fence for my pastures.  

good luck!
 
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We have 2 goats living in the neighbors backyard. The yard has become an eyesore! They don't eat the waist- high grass, instead they have eaten the beautiful hedge. We no longer have privacy or  a beautiful hedge and now have view of the next door eyesore. In addition, the mice and rats that feast on the feed have moved into our side of the fence for a peaceful abode near to their banquet.
 
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Esellie Laing wrote:We have 2 goats living in the neighbors backyard. The yard has become an eyesore! They don't eat the waist- high grass, instead they have eaten the beautiful hedge. We no longer have privacy or  a beautiful hedge and now have view of the next door eyesore. In addition, the mice and rats that feast on the feed have moved into our side of the fence for a peaceful abode near to their banquet.



Yeah, this isn't surprising.  Goats are not naturally grazers (grass-eaters); they are browsers like deer (brush-eaters).  If your neighbors wanted the grass mowed, they should have gotten sheep, although some sheep will browse as well as graze.  At this point, with the grass tall and probably coarse, it wouldn't even be very palatable to cows, which are tall-grass grazers (they eat by wrapping their tongues around the grass and pulling, rather than by biting it off).  
 
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Kathleen Sanderson wrote:

Esellie Laing wrote:We have 2 goats living in the neighbors backyard. The yard has become an eyesore! They don't eat the waist- high grass, instead they have eaten the beautiful hedge. We no longer have privacy or  a beautiful hedge and now have view of the next door eyesore. In addition, the mice and rats that feast on the feed have moved into our side of the fence for a peaceful abode near to their banquet.



Yeah, this isn't surprising.  Goats are not naturally grazers (grass-eaters); they are browsers like deer (brush-eaters).  If your neighbors wanted the grass mowed, they should have gotten sheep, although some sheep will browse as well as graze.  At this point, with the grass tall and probably coarse, it wouldn't even be very palatable to cows, which are tall-grass grazers (they eat by wrapping their tongues around the grass and pulling, rather than by biting it off).  



Hair sheep are more what that neighbor needs to keep the grass at bay, with some brush eating mixed in.  That or they should just mow.  Or chickens and turkeys.  I'm honestly amazed at how well poultry can mow a yard.
 
Kathleen Sanderson
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Andrew Mayflower wrote:

Kathleen Sanderson wrote:

Esellie Laing wrote:We have 2 goats living in the neighbors backyard. The yard has become an eyesore! They don't eat the waist- high grass, instead they have eaten the beautiful hedge. We no longer have privacy or  a beautiful hedge and now have view of the next door eyesore. In addition, the mice and rats that feast on the feed have moved into our side of the fence for a peaceful abode near to their banquet.



Yeah, this isn't surprising.  Goats are not naturally grazers (grass-eaters); they are browsers like deer (brush-eaters).  If your neighbors wanted the grass mowed, they should have gotten sheep, although some sheep will browse as well as graze.  At this point, with the grass tall and probably coarse, it wouldn't even be very palatable to cows, which are tall-grass grazers (they eat by wrapping their tongues around the grass and pulling, rather than by biting it off).  



Hair sheep are more what that neighbor needs to keep the grass at bay, with some brush eating mixed in.  That or they should just mow.  Or chickens and turkeys.  I'm honestly amazed at how well poultry can mow a yard.



Poultry do a fairly good job, especially geese, which are specifically grass-eaters.  But even with geese, some mowing will need to be done.  Even with sheep, you have to do some mowing, for that matter, just a lot less of it.
 
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I think that depends on where you live and the fertility. Without inputs, our nature growth of annuals is about 4 inches. This year due to a wet, cold spring, it has increased to 6 inches in areas without added fertility. I plan on getting goats to eat the perennial bushes and small trees, not annual grasses and forbs,
 
Laurel Jones
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Stacy Witscher wrote:I think that depends on where you live and the fertility. Without inputs, our nature growth of annuals is about 4 inches. This year due to a wet, cold spring, it has increased to 6 inches in areas without added fertility. I plan on getting goats to eat the perennial bushes and small trees, not annual grasses and forbs,



I'm a bit jealous.  Our pastures sprung from a tidy bush hogged last autumn height of ~10" to roughly 3 feet tall with no signs of stopping this spring!
 
Bonnie Johnson
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I am glad it is that tall.  But I do understand. It is hard to weed eat along my high tensile fence when the grass is chest high as it is right now.  I am 5 foot 6 inches.  Pretty sure the grass seed heads are near four feet high right now.  I can't see my goats in the pasture unless they stand on their hind legs to reach the top of a rose bush. LOL  I can't imagine the amount of land I would need for my animals if we only got 4 to 6 inches of annual growth.  
 
Stacy Witscher
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That height doesn't include seed heads which can be considerably taller. In areas of increased fertility and/or water, it can increase 4 fold.

Generally where I live when shrubs and small trees are removed heavy machinery is used, and then it is all piled together and left, not helpful in a fire safety perspective, never mind really ugly and destructive.

I have 80 acres that are perfect for goats and would likely work for some sheep, not such much cattle. I can live with that.
 
Joshua LeDuc
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I wanted to add to the "don't tether" your goats comments.  If you have a collar on your goats and you decide to start moving them through the woods, make sure that it is a break-away collar, or else the goats could get the collar stuck on a tree branch and hang themselves.  I use a plastic chain material with a break-away clip as one of the chain links.  
 
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I love this topic! My family is also preparing to bring in a few goats. They will be rotational grazing in about 8 acres of woods. We have a ton of kudzu, brambles, and grapevines on the edge of our woods, too.
I have a question for all of you who have experience with rotational grazing in the woods where you move them from one electric netting paddock to another… what do you do about shelter for the goats, since they need shelter from rain? Do you have some sort of lightweight skiddable shelter? I have been trying to come up with a plan for something that the goats won’t be able to knock over/climb on/fall through, yet is light enough to move around in the woods by one person.
 
Steve Smyth
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Speaking to the picketing concerns:

Never picket an animal without a responsible human keeping tabs on them.

I am leaning towards portable electric fencing.

Do you all think than Nubians would be a good breed to start with?

Thanks.
 
Andrew Mayflower
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Steve Smyth wrote:Speaking to the picketing concerns:

Never picket an animal without a responsible human keeping tabs on them.

I am leaning towards portable electric fencing.

Do you all think than Nubians would be a good breed to start with?

Thanks.



If they’re not too hard to get if it was me I’d get myotonic goats.  Soon as they get excited the myotonia kicks in and they freeze.  Bad for predator avoidance but great for ease of handling and containment in modest fencing.  Plus they have the highest meat/bone ratio of almost any livestock.  

Unless you really want to deal with dairy I’d get a meat breed.  Kiko and Boer are probably the most common meat breeds.  Myotonics are a meat breed, but are only commonly found in certain areas of the country.  If you need to go with a dairy breed due to local availability but don’t want to milk I’d recommend getting all wethers or all does (or a mix of wethers and does) outside of breeding season.  Not sure where Nubians lie on the meat-dairy spectrum.

Or, as mentioned above, hair sheep.  I have Soay sheep, but they’re pretty rare and I only got them because a friend needed to rehome them and I was able to save her a trip to the auction.  Katahdin are probably the most popular hair sheep these days, but St Croix or Barbados Black Belly are solid options too.  There’s others but those are probably the ones you’re most likely to find.
 
Bonnie Johnson
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Nubians can be really cool goats. Some are really good milkers and you can get some good meat wethers from Nubians.  However, my experience with Nubians has been they are very needy goats. As in they need you to be around, they need you to protect them from the smallest bit of rain falling from the sky etc.   I have Nubians, I love their ears. Speaking of ears, long drooping ears can freeze and get frostbitten very easily and then you end up with short goat ears anyhow......I have learned this from experience.   Many Nubians are raised more for their color than for their other qualities like milk production.  There are a lot of good milking Nubians out there but if you dairy type Nubians, they require high inputs.  Again, go see what those Nubians are eating before you buy.  Maybe they are out there chowing down of brush and doing well in a climate similar to yours. Then heck get some of those Nubians.

So here is what you need to think about. What type of climate do you have?  Then you need to think about where the breed you are thinking of getting originated. Does your climate  match up with that breed. If not, then if you still want that breed, you will have to do more work to on your part to have that breed be successful.  

For example, Spanish goats ( I dont have any and haven't owned any Spanish goats) evolved in drier areas but were raised a brush eating goats.  If you have a drier climate than Spanish goats would probably do well for you.  You can find some Spanish herds that are more acclimatized to wetter conditions.

Another example, Boer goats were originally from Africa in a drier regions. They have been over bred for the show ring and put into a forage situation with low inputs, they probably won't do well. They aren't as parasite resistant/resilient compared to Spanish and Kiko breeds unless you are buying them from someone who has been keeping their boer goats on forage and has been culling for animals that can do well on forage.  

If you live in a wetter area like I do in Ohio, Boer goats don't do well. Their ears are also long and droopy and easily frostbite in winter. I learned that from experience too. LOL    

I eventually decided to try Kiko goats because they were developed in New Zealand which has a pretty wet cold climate kinda similar to Ohio but we don't have the mountains in Ohio like they have in New Zealand.  I have been pretty happy with the Kiko goats and the Kiko crosses. I often breed a Kiko buck to my dairy does and get very nice kids. I am milking one of them now. She gives a half gallon a day right now since I am only milking once a day.  When she is in top production she gives a gallon of milk on two times a day milking.  She forages very well. Her mother was a registered Alpine.  Some dairy goats will forage quite well, I have had Saanens and Alpines who forage quite well.  I have noticed that the Saanens and Alpines need their hooves trimmed frequently. Another input. Do you want to trim hooves all the time?  

These are all things to think about.
Ability to handle  Climate Conditions
Parasite resistance/resilience
Ability to forage
Hoof trimming.
Fence jumping

yep I almost forgot fence jumping.  I have shied away from La Mancha goats when I saw then easily jumping over 5 foot tale fences at the goat auction. LOL    I am sure I forgot something, but I am sure some other people will bring up what I missed    Oh and if you buy goats that are already used to being confined by electro net then you won't have get them used to being confined by electro net.  
good luck!
 
Steve Smyth
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I will be in Eastern Oklahoma. A.little hot and muggy in the Summer with 90+ common in July and August. Winters are relatively mild with an average of 15" annual snowfall. Total average precipitation is 45"-48" annually.

I want brush eaters that are relatively low maintenance and will stay put behind a 42" portable electric fence.

I have no interest in milking them but I may invite them to a BBQ once they are done clearing the brush.😁
 
Andrew Mayflower
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Steve Smyth wrote:I will be in Eastern Oklahoma. A.little hot and muggy in the Summer with 90+ common in July and August. Winters are relatively mild with an average of 15" annual snowfall. Total average precipitation is 45"-48" annually.

I want brush eaters that are relatively low maintenance and will stay put behind a 42" portable electric fence.

I have no interest in milking them but I may invite them to a BBQ once they are done clearing the brush.😁



For goats given that description I’d highly recommend myotonic (aka fainting) goats.  Or hair sheep.  Otherwise you won’t be happy with containment.
 
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To maintain clearance along a fenceline we would take our herd of dairy goats on a walk to a section of fence line each day weather allowing.  They are only going to brows for  about an hour at a time anyway then spend time lounging and chewing the cud.  With 3 family members our schedule would sometimes allow for 2 or 3 walks per day.   With a electric net and shelter,  abundance +plans,  you could progressively work down a fence line by letting them out to eat ahead to clear enough to make the move easier for the next section then putting them back in the pen where they will chew on things because they are bored.  We had a few sheep as well to maintain the grass.  Goats will unite to trample a fence down and sheep and pigs to go under it.  Each one clears a different level of growth so consider all three.
 
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