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goats per acre in paddock shift system?

 
Dan Grubbs
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Location: northwest Missouri, USA
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I know this question has been asked in similar ways before and I do understand the best answer is, "it depends." So let me try to provide some variables to this equation and see if the experienced goat folks can help me out.

I am looking to start raising meat goats on my place in Northwest Missouri. We do have a pretty generous growing season, but we do have all four seasons, winters are pretty mild.

In the attached diagram, I have crudely drawn a four paddock system with four one-acre paddocks connected by a long chute to move the goats from one paddock to another for rotation purposes. As shown in the diagram, I'm hoping to keep the goats in thse one-acre paddocks for 10 days and then move them to the next paddock. This gives each paddock 30 days of rest, which I've read is long enough for the parasites to die off and give the paddock a chance to regenerate. Our pasture is full of mixed grasses and are currently about chest high (we're cutting hay this week). We're getting a minimum of four large round bales of hay per acre per year (two hay cuttings a year). I provide this information to give a sense of the fertility of this part of our farm.


With this information, I wonder if anyone would venture a guess as to how many boki goats I could raise in a system such as this.

Any information would be much appreciated.

Thanks,

Dan
Hebron Acres
Holt, Missouri
Paddock_Plan.jpg
[Thumbnail for Paddock_Plan.jpg]
Paddock Plan Diagram
 
Renate Howard
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I've got a lactating female, 2 juveniles, and 2 kids on a 2 acre pasture and they're nowhere near able to keep up with the forage. They're nubians so pretty big.

My best guess would be to say, you should ask the person you're buying goats from (or local farmers who raise them) how many they stock per acre. Info. is no good, tho, without looking at their pastures - don't listen to anyone who has goats in a bare dirt pen or anything else overgrazed. And don't forget - goats love to browse so trees/bushes are important to them. Mine prefer not to eat the grass at all. I could probably put something else in there with them to eat the grass without losing much goat space at all.
 
greg patrick
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I'm one of those bare dirt guys you aren't supposed to listen to, but hear me out. You don't always have to put the goats on pasture, sometimes it's better to bring the pasture to the goats. I use a system very similar to Dave Holmgren and a friend and I are developing an intensive urban goat system that seems to work.

Goats need trees, not pasture. If you have access to tree trimmings (and you do, trust me) have the guys dump their loads in your paddocks. They'll do this for free or you might even charge them $50. The goats will mow through the trimmings and leave you with a big pile of sticks which you can then either burn or chip or hugleculture to improve your soil.

Think of it as mob grazing, except instead of moving your goats from paddock to paddock, you just dump in a new paddock every three days. I've been doing this with dairy goats and chickens for four years and it's incredibly effective.

100 goats + a few hundred chickens/acre, very high quality meat or milk.

Option two: rather than having 400 goats, limit yourself to 50 goats on a half acre and do something else with the other three and a half acres like planting a fruit orchard and stocking sheep under it.

Option three: Stock a little higher than the carrying capacity of the land and supplement with trees. The goats NEED the trees because trees have a higher mineral load than grass. Goats won't thrive on grass, they need trees to thrive.

Enjoy.
 
Dan Grubbs
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Location: northwest Missouri, USA
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Thanks for the replies Renate and Greg. I love this community.

Greg, I appreciate your POV. I did gain some insights from your reply.

Yet, a key reason I asked the question about rotational grazing was for pest/worm management. Greg, would it be logical to assume that you use dewormers in your operational plan since your goats are in one place for extended periods of time?

I do have regular pasture in those paddocks now, but I will spend the next two years planting things in them that I know goats enjoy and need and won't have goats in these paddocks for three years yet. I'm trying to plan ahead. So, they will have significant other forage growth in them before the first goat appears.

Finding a tree service is my next goal due to the fact that I'm wanting truckloads of wood chips. So, I expect I can find tree trimmings through the same folks.

Renate, my neighbor across the street is currently keeping 22 goats in a single paddock of about two acres. However, he's had some worm problems and will now subdivide that paddock and begin using a rotational grazing method. He does use supplimental feed and leaves bales in a feeder in the pasture, too. With that, I feel pretty good about putting 8-10 goats in a one-acre paddock rotational system as I've outlined. That does mean I'll need a portable watering system, but that's a small price to pay for healthy goats in my opinion, but I'm sure I'll see if I still feel this way when I'm actually doing it. I think it's wise, as others have suggested, to start things off at a managable level and learn before taking on a larger operation.

Thanks,

Dan
Hebron Acres
Holt, Missouri


 
R Scott
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rotational grazing for parasite control only works if they don't go back to the barn, either, for 30+ days. Absolutely zero common ground!!!

If you are going to do that, I would build a small portable shelter you can drag from paddock to paddock or simple shelters for each paddock. And water for each paddock.

Use the existing barn for severe weather and sacrificial area.
 
greg patrick
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In four years the only diseases or problems we've had was: one kid with pneumonia. Classic cause of 100+ temps with high humidity when she was less than a week old. She's 100% healthy after a round of Tylan. One other goat had a high worm load when she arrived at our place and we gave her a single dose of chemical dewormer and now she's fine. Those were the only times I've ever treated my goats for anything. They're all super healthy.

According to several authors, and also my own experience, if goats get all the minerals they need they don't get worms. Trees and tree trimmings are high in minerals so they get everything they need from the leaves and bark. Goats run best on low energy/high mineral/ high volume feed. Trees and brush provide the correct balance, supplemented with some pasture plants like perslaine, plantain, wild radish, fennel, mule fat, Ox tonge, etc.

Bringing in tree trimmings also allows me to vary their browse more than I could with pasture or any standard ration. Goats are browsers, not grazers. When goats browse in my system they go over the trees for a few days, then move on. They won't touch food that hits the ground - they are extremely picky that way. Once it's on the ground I muck it into the compost bin. I provide mangers for the trees along the perimeter fences so they're easy to load and clear out, and so the goats don't soil their own food (which they then won't eat).

Compare that to grazing. Parasites climb up the grasses, especially wet/damp grass. When goats and especially sheep eat the grass they can ingest a high level of parasites. Goats should always have a manageable load of parasites in they're system; you never want to eliminate them all. Browsing keeps the balance; grazing overloads them.

And unlike eating rich pastures, goats never colic on trees.

Once every few weeks I sprinkle a handful of DE over the supplemental flake of alfalfa I give to my animals. When they're out browsing they eat 'toxic' plants like tobacco and eucalyptus and caster in small amounts to naturally de-parasite themselves. So I guess that was a very long answer, but no, I don't really do much for parasite control as we have no parasite problems.
 
Dan Grubbs
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Location: northwest Missouri, USA
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R Scott - thanks for the reminder about all the other places one's goats may go must also be considered when thinking about rotational grazing. In my inexperience, I had completly overlooked the goat barn thinking I would just muck it out frequently. I've also read that a seperate area is also a good idea for isolating new members of the goat family before introducing them to everyone else.

Greg - so it sounds as if the DE and diet are working for you as a natural deterrent to worm overload. What I'm learning then is to think a bit more widely about how to manage goats and understand there are several approaches and even some hybrid approaches of raising goats.

Thanks all for sharing your experiences.
 
greg patrick
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Since your still a way out from goatherding, here are two must have books:

Natural Goat Care by Coleby, and
Goat Husbandry by David MacKenzie .

Both invaluable. Coleby says that in a perfect world goats would eat only brush and trees. MacKenzie gives examples of how to raise goats in every conceivable format. The bottom line is goats are pretty fool proof and adapt to just about any climate or food conditions, so make sure they have something green to eat and some dolomite and Redmond salt licks and bicarbonate and kelp meal and ACV with some copper pipe in it and some free feed DE and you really can't go horribly wrong.
 
Dan Grubbs
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Location: northwest Missouri, USA
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Greg, I will be sure to pick up these books this winter.
 
Leon Elt
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Location: Central FL
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R Scott wrote:rotational grazing for parasite control only works if they don't go back to the barn, either, for 30+ days. Absolutely zero common ground!!!


Scott, how do they pick up worms in the barn? I thought contact with soil is necessary for the eggs to hatch into larvae and that larvae need to be on the grass to re-infect a sheep? (when I think barn, I think concrete or dirt floor with wood shaving, straw or something like that for bedding) Thanks,
 
Dan Grubbs
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Location: northwest Missouri, USA
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I'm not sure if I missed it in this thread or somewhere else. But, I've seen several references to copper pipe used as suppliment for goats. However, I'm not sure how this is being done. Greg Patrick, you wrote, "The bottom line is goats are pretty fool proof and adapt to just about any climate or food conditions, so make sure they have something green to eat and some dolomite and Redmond salt licks and bicarbonate and kelp meal and ACV with some copper pipe in it and some free feed DE and you really can't go horribly wrong." So, what I have failed to understand is how you get "some copper pipe in it" so the goats have a fully healthful diet. Sorry, for the uninformed question, but I've clearly missed something so I'm asking the experts.

Thanks for helping this noobie out.

Dan
 
Johnny Niamert
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I think he meant apple cider vinegar (ACV) with some copper pipe in it, presumably to dissolve the pipe.
 
S Bengi
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Location: Massachusetts, Zone:6/7, AHS:4, Rainfall:48in even distribution
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1 cow = 6 goats = 10 dwarf goat.
If you are in southern FL 1 acre can feed 1 cow thus 6 goats.
you probably need 2 acres
 
Dan Grubbs
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Location: northwest Missouri, USA
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Thanks Johnny, I certainly wasn't paying attention enough to reconize that ACV was apple cider vinegar.

Which, of course, leads me to the next question of dosage. How do we know how much pipe is being dissolved in a given volume of ACV? I did read the thread about nutrients for does near delivery, but the mention of copper pipe and ACV wasn't specific. Patrick, can you please elaborate in detail about how much pipe, and how long to leave it and what given volume of ACV.

Thanks,
Dan

 
Dave Hawkins
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Location: Kansas City, MO
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I did not see this thread until now. I too am interested in learning about feeding branches to goats. My interest in this was recently sparked by two things: (1) In discussions about developing a sheep farm close to Columbia, MO, I had a meeting with Dr. Charlotte Clifford-Rathert of Lincoln University who has gotten NIFA funding to study "goats in the woods." In my recent meeting with her, I learned that they regularly cut tree limbs and feed them to the goats and that the goats prefer this. She also said they LOVE honeysuckle. (2) I attend an inner city mission church in Kansas City in a rough neighborhood - close to 16th and Hardesty - and have explored the possibility of starting a mini-farm close to the church. So I googled "dairy goats inner city" and discovered that The Urban Farming Guys are doing just that only 1 mile from the church where I attend. I asked these folks about dairy goats in the city and discovered that the city does allow it under certain conditions and that there are already a couple of families milking dairy goats, right there in the city. I drove around the area and found some interesting abandoned lots all overgrown with brush and lots of trees - seems perfect for goats. Also, one property had chain link fence already installed - surely that would hold goats in! Anyway, thought I'd throw my two cents into this discussion.

Cheers!

Dave Hawkins
 
Dave Hawkins
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Location: Kansas City, MO
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Many of these lots in the inner city can be bought for a song - or leased for free in exchange for upkeep. Seems like it could be an awesome addition for outreach / mentoring in the inner city.
 
R Scott
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If you are good at the marketing, the city will PAY YOU to rotate your goats on abandoned properties as weed control.
 
Dave Hawkins
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Location: Kansas City, MO
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Really!! .... Now THAT sounds interesting. I am good at marketing. Are you joking? Or are you for real? (i.e. are you just a great marketer? LOL)
 
Dan Grubbs
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Location: northwest Missouri, USA
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I say you turn this into a self-supporting social venture, Dave. I'd love to know the details of what R Scott mentions, or at least who to contact. If I can help you pull this off Dave, pleases let me know. If a group of people who are struggling to make ends meet can benefit from this, then what a deal that can be with just a bit of volunteer help. People win, the city wins, the goats win, the land wins ... what's not to like, right?
 
L. Zell
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Some places in CA are actually paying goat farmers to control brush as a way to reduce fire hazard.
Goats also adore poison ivy and multiflora roses, something we have lots of in MO. I've been feeding my herd cedar trees and multiflora in an effort to reduce hay consumption.
 
R Scott
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http://www.thesurvivalpodcast.com/episode-910-mike-canaday-on-grazing-goats-electric-fencing-and-working-dogs

 
Abe Connally
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I'd love to know more details of the tree trimmings to goat system. Is that dairy goats or meat goats? How many goats and how much trimmings per day/week/whatever? Very interesting!
 
I agree. Here's the link: http://richsoil.com/email
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