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My goats are ringing all my trees

 
Nicholas Mason
Posts: 91
Location: Colton Or
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I need ideas on how to save my trees
We have 17 goats right now. In about 1.5 acres. With plenty of blackberries, and other bushes and leaf matter. But they are choosing to ring some of my trees.
 
Adam Klaus
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Location: 6200' westen slope of colorado, zone 6
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My experience is that they will destroy every last tree, unless you physically stop them from doing so.
So get the goats out of there! Quick! It is a matter of life or death (for the trees).

It seems so idyllic to integrate animals with food forests. It is idyllic, if only the animals didnt screw it all up, every time.

I have killed trees so many times with cows and sheep, animals that are 'supposed' to choose grazing over browsing. Now I have my orchard separtate from my animals. I mow the orchards, much to my lament, but it sure beats grazing a dead food forest.

Once trees are large, like 4 inches in diameter, the trees can withstand some grazing. But not unlimited, as my neighbor girdled 70 year old apple trees with her damn llamas a few years back. That was sad. Sure lowered my opinion of both the neighbor and llamas in general.

If you have just a few trees, make a metal cage for the trees. The goats will still climb the cages, and weed control becomes difficult, but at least the trees wont get killed straight away. Moral to the story- the sahara looks that way thanks to goats and their masters. Never trust a goat! Or like the song says, 'sheep go to heaven, goats go to hell...'

Good luck! Save the trees!
 
Landon Sunrich
pollinator
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Location: Western Washington
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I work around goats quite a bit. Mostly picking up after them and trying to undue damage they do ("Rams - keeping fencing companies in business like none other" ). It's currently my best most reliable source of income. They're super friendly and personable and I LOVE goat milk.

That being said - they are the most destructive animal I know of. I am sadly fairly convinced that they don't have a place in many permaculutres (I almost said ANY permaculture - because seriously - they destroy shit)

I swear they just get bored. They've killed almost an acre of Doug Fir and hemlock and dougs have some burly bark. And then theirs the damn hooves that compact everything in site. I think these animals should be moved frequently.

Sorry - none of that was helpful.

Can you fence the tree's away from them?

 
Rocco Hagar
Posts: 16
Location: Texas
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Nicholas Mason wrote:I need ideas on how to save my trees
We have 17 goats right now. In about 1.5 acres. With plenty of blackberries, and other bushes and leaf matter. But they are choosing to ring some of my trees.


17 goats on an acre an a half sounds a little extreme to start with. Are you raising for meat, milk, fiber...all or none of the above? What kind of goats?

The only trees that my goats go for the bark on are the more aromatic ones..like sumac. Otherwise they eat the low hanging leaves on some trees, but leave the bark alone. What kinds of trees are they after?

Some folks contend that goats eat bark if they are deprived of some nutrient. Do you provide free choice minerals?

As far as protecting the trees there isn't a good way that I know except fencing. Others have reported that wrapping chicken wire has not been too effective.
 
Nicholas Mason
Posts: 91
Location: Colton Or
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Thanks, the nutrient is a good idea. I usually do have it available but recently have forgotten to leave then out.
My Goats are for milk and meat. I don't keep that big of a herd regularly I just have not sold off the extra girls from this year, and a few of the males will be dinner later this year. But there seems to be plenty of room and browse for them. Of course I am rotating them through a total of three paddocks. The land that I am on has been maintained for over twenty years. In the northwest thats alot of blackberries. The end plan will be thirteen different paddocks to rotate my animals through.
Goats do an amazing job removing blackberries, producing milk, and meat. I think that they should be in almost every permaculture system. And as to compacting the soil. They actually do a really good job bringing back pasture. The problem is their love of trees, and anything you might hold dear. Pasture land is treated very well by them. And from my experimenting used goat bedding grows some of the best lawns.
 
Landon Sunrich
pollinator
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Location: Western Washington
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I have no experience with goats under managed rotation. Sounds like they could be mighty useful in establishing a new site on marginal land. Please let us know if the mineral lick stops the problem. Having enjoyed the taste of sap from time to time myself I wonder if perhaps the trees just taste good. What sort of trees are they?
 
Nicholas Mason
Posts: 91
Location: Colton Or
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I think its mostly the apple, alder, and maple trees. I did give them some mineral tonight, which they were really really into. I hope that works even though as soon as I read I read it I was like man I am an idiot that makes so much sense.
The neighbor above me has had about 40 to 70 goats that she keeps on maybe 7 to ten acres(its hard for my to estimate aceridge from just looking at it) It was originally a mule and horse field like 7 years ago. She only lets them on the field during the day. But that is all she does for the field and it has no repaired itself to where there is grass at least 7 inches tall even now.
 
Renate Howard
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Location: zone 6b
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I've heard from other sources that copper deficiency specifically can lead to tree damage by goats. Sometimes the mineral mix doesn't have enough copper to meet their needs. You can put out copper sulphate and, separately, dolomite lime (has to be dolomite - the plain lime lacks magnesium) for free choice supplementation. The dolomite is the antidote for them consuming too much of the copper, so with both they can maintain their balance. Or if you know your soil is copper deficient (USGS has a map that shows who is and isn't) you can use the copper boluses.

My goats aren't nearly as hard on trees as the miniature donkeys are - they're adorable tree destroying machines!

You can wrap the trunks in chicken wire if there aren't too many of them. I think they do like the sweet taste - mine go for the ash-leaf maples above all else and those are good for making maple syrup.

I'm wondering if girdling trees is a way for goats to get more browse - they're basically coppicing the trees, making the roots send up lots of fast-growing tender shoots. In not-overgrazed areas, it could be a pretty good survival mechanism.
 
Lance Kleckner
Posts: 114
Location: West Iowa
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The goats here will kill any tree that doesn't have thick bark. Usually the old trees are the ones with thick bark.
I protect others with some woven wire and electric fence.
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tree goats
 
Landon Sunrich
pollinator
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Location: Western Washington
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I'm wondering if girdling trees is a way for goats to get more browse - they're basically coppicing the trees, making the roots send up lots of fast-growing tender shoots. In not-overgrazed areas, it could be a pretty good survival mechanism.

^
the about is a quote I can't get to "quote"


That's an interesting thought. The deer do that quite nicely around my place and then they pack up and move on.
 
Nicholas Mason
Posts: 91
Location: Colton Or
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So far adding mineral seems to be doing the trick. They are not really even hanging out around the trees anymore but are more in the field eating grass and blackberries again.
 
I agree. Here's the link: http://richsoil.com/email
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