• Post Reply
  • Bookmark Topic Watch Topic
  • New Topic

Goats_how many for ~3 acre plot?

 
Jason Vath
Posts: 146
Location: Hardiness Zone 6
12
chicken forest garden hugelkultur toxin-ectomy wofati woodworking
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
If one had about 3 acres accessible, what would be a maximum number of goats to populate that area?
I'd be using paddock shift system with electro-netting.
 
Ce Rice
Posts: 98
Location: Zone 8-9
4
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Hey just hoping I can help refine your question a bit so that Deborah can give you the best answer.
Jack Spirko Likes to say that the permaculture answer is always "it depends."

For instance, if your 3 acres is a veritable overgrowth and undergrowth vine jungle, with tons of saplings and bent over branches, then 25 goats might not be too many for the first year. But if all you have is a lawn, just grass, then you may want to look at sheep, and/or be very intentional with your rotation, and just have one or two goats.

Anyway, please give us all the details you can think of about your 3 acres!

I too look forward to her answer!!
 
Erica Wisner
gardener
Pie
Posts: 1107
Location: Okanogan Highlands, Washington
172
books cat dog food preservation hugelkultur
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Along the same lines - I've heard that goats can turn productive hillsides into eroded deserts, and also that mob-grazing (including presumably goats) is a powerful tool to restore soil fertility through thatch reduction and manures.

So assuming that we want the overall productivity of the landscape to increase with our herds, how do we find the useful limits?

I'm a part-time substitute goat caretaker, and interested in possibly using goats to thin undergrowth in a forested area.

So - what are the indicators that we'd want certain numbers of goats, in what time frame, to achieve:

- forest cover remaining largely intact, with mixed-understory plants, but ladder fuels removed?

- park-like grazed lawn between established trees --- savannah?

- restoration of arid scrub-land to perennial grass pasture (with possible trees in protected areas/between paddocks)


Are there any big watch-out signs to realize early that you're damaging your land with too many goats, or the wrong rotation pattern?

Is there a lower limit where it's not worth keeping goats if you don't have at least X number of them?

Does it make a difference if they're confined and fed hay at certain times of year, either due to weather, or to produce a heavily-manured area like a "chicken tractor" but more so?

-Erica
 
Jason Vath
Posts: 146
Location: Hardiness Zone 6
12
chicken forest garden hugelkultur toxin-ectomy wofati woodworking
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Excellent points Erica, I clearly have a lot to learn concerning goats. I was afraid to hear goats might be too aggressive.

To expound upon the 3 acre lot I mentioned previously, it's a very slight slope mainly consisting of grass, clover, weeds & some immature thorny plants.
Now that I said that, I imagine sheep would be a better match then? It'd interesting to hear more about this.
 
Deborah Niemann
Posts: 72
6
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
LOVE the answers you've already received! I answered a similar question already, and I said, "It depends!" LOL! Based upon your description of the property, sheep would be good, but you could also do goats. We are currently rotating 30 Shetland sheep on about two acres of grassy pasture, but we're having a lot of rain, so it's growing really fast! It doesn't always work this well.

As I also said to someone else in a different thread, I suggest starting small. Goats have kids, and they're all adorable! It's easy to increase your herd. The real challenge is downsizing! I usually suggest starting with no more than about 4-5 goats your first year, regardless of how much space you have. Next year, you could have 12 or 15!
 
George Meljon
Posts: 278
Location: Southern Indiana zone 5b
2
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Diego's podcast earlier this year about goats may help with this question, especially for goats foraging shrubbery.
 
Thekla McDaniels
gardener
Posts: 1525
Location: Grand Valley of Colorado's Western Slope
76
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Jason,

Of course you'll be getting lots of information and deciding for your self what you want to do. Sheep eat more grass and are happier with it than goats, but should you want goats for some other reason, then you could introduce more variety in the forage that grows on your 3 acres.

I have 2.6 acres, and I use the electric netting to move them around. I notice what they eat first, and what they only eat at a particular time of year or at a certain stage in the plant development. I started with practically bare almost undeveloped soil. Less than 1% organics as measured by Peter Donovan of the soil carbon challenge. It is desert soil, light sand and a little clay. I've planted a lot of grass, for the deep roots that feed the soil microorganisms and give a home to them, and protect the soil from the burning rays of the high desert sun, but I've added things like curly dock, and plenty of volunteer seeds have come in the irrigation water. Things like sweet clover and honey suckle. I've rooted cuttings of mulberry and grapes and added them to their pasture areas. I'm always trying to add more diversity to the pasture.

I have learned how to make it easier for myself to set up the pens, and how to have enough ornamental and productive food areas where they never go to have the beauty I love in a garden as well.

I guess what I am saying, is if you want goats you can have them, and what ever else you want on your bit of earth, if you do as Deborah says and start very small, and learn about them and mediate between what they want and need, and your own needs and wants.

I have not wanted to buy and sell goats, and buy and sell back to seller, but I have done a lot of that. Some goats did not have the temperament to do well at my place. In particular, I had a perfect milker, and she loved me, was quite personable, but she was too rough with other goats. I really think she did not like other goats. When I sold her, I told the buyer about it, and the buyers goats were even rougher, and my good milker ended up with a private pen, and is much loved and appreciated. I just could not accommodate her need for distance from other goats. I don't think that works in a rotational system.

I've had a couple of goats that are just too nervous. Cry all the time. Run away when another goat even looks at them. Kind of the opposite of the one I described above. They didn't get much to eat because they were too focused on playing keep away from the others. I sold each of them as well, and from what I understand, they are each happy in their new herds.

It seems with goat's strong personalities, there are goats that are incompatible with various situations and owners. That was a surprise to me. I just wasn't expecting it. As Deborah said in another thread, successive generations on the same place become more productive and healthier.

I keep trying to have a set of doelings grow up together, because I am hoping they will get along with each other. I currently have 3 adults I am milking, and am in the process of finding a good home for another nervous one, which will bring me down to two milkers. And I have kept three doelings born here this year. The doelings are a cohesive little group, and it is hard to imagine difficulties developing among them. The two adults I will be keeping are mothers of two of them, I hope to mix them all together when the young ones are completely weaned.

Even if these two subgroups don't mix in together, they can continue as subgroups in the same enclosures. That's what I am hoping anyway.

And lastly, I am going to try "milking through". Breed only the young ones late this fall and see if I can milk the two older ones until late summer next year, milking them for ~18 months. I've read of goat dairies that do it that way. They say the goats have half the pregnancies which is easier on them, there are half the "surplus" goats to "dispose of". So, I'll be keeping 5 adult females on my 2.6 acres, feeding alfalfa as needed through the winter, and having a transient population of kids, and selecting from them for replacement stock. I really think 5 is the limit for my place, but that is determined by how many I want to milk at one time, and what else I want to do with my place and my time.

I guess I'll start another thread on milking through if I can't find an existing one, so I can get Deborah's opinion on all that.

That's where I think I'm heading... but we all know how to make the omniscient one laugh!

Thekla
 
Jason Vath
Posts: 146
Location: Hardiness Zone 6
12
chicken forest garden hugelkultur toxin-ectomy wofati woodworking
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Amazing responses everyone! I'm learning a lot already - goat personalities, starting small cause they multiply quickly, learn their needs/wants as well as mine, etc. Great advice!
Considering all this, sheep are probably a better choice for me at the moment, assuming they aren't as challenging to deal with.
 
Tiffani Wilson
Posts: 24
Location: Woods of Northern Indiana
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Thekla McDaniels wrote: Some goats did not have the temperament to do well at my place. In particular, I had a perfect milker, and she loved me, was quite personable, but she was too rough with other goats. I really think she did not like other goats. When I sold her, I told the buyer about it, and the buyers goats were even rougher, and my good milker ended up with a private pen, and is much loved and appreciated. I just could not accommodate her need for distance from other goats. I don't think that works in a rotational system.


This was helpful! We are in a similar situation with a new goat. I've been debating back and forth on whether or not to keep her, but ever since we got her we've had trouble. Our other two were very content to browse the woods in their electronet, but now one is a jumper and they are both bullied constantly. We have to put hay for them in a separate place because miss bully can't be in two places at the same time and they can actually eat. Ms. Bully loves people and is a good milker, but I think we need to find a home for her where she can be #1. I actually think she would like to be her own herd, lol. Never thought I'd see that! Anyhow, thanks for sharing, Thekla... it is giving me much needed insight!!
 
Thekla McDaniels
gardener
Posts: 1525
Location: Grand Valley of Colorado's Western Slope
76
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Glad it was helpful, Tiffani. I am still pretty new to goats, and I don't know if I know yet all the questions to ask about a goat I am considering buying. But when I sell a goat, I try to figure out what situation would be right for her, and try to find it for him/her. That includes telling the prospective buyer what I know the goat I am selling.

I had a goat I bought as a milker, whose teats were so hard you could barely get the milk out, and whose babies could not nurse on her. When she freshened her udder was a long four inch cylinder hanging almost to the ground. The seller took advantage of my inexperience, or she helped me learn, depending on how you look at it.

I sold that goat for butcher. No need for anyone to propagate that!

I believe the best goats or sheep or cattle for any given piece of property are the ones born and raised there from animals born and raised there. They get to know the property, the routines and their bodies adjust to the forage there. Still, there is only one way to get there, and that is by buying goats, keeping the good ones, selling the others. Breeding them, and again keeping the good ones and selling the others.

Which brings us to the question of breeding. I don't keep a buck, 2.6 acres in "upscale" neighborhood. (I have a little farmhouse built in the 30s in a beautiful area. The property has been subdivided and the neighbors are not farmers, but professionals who want to live with the scenery, and a little ways out of town, and have room enough for a horse or a 4 H project). So, I don't do things like smelly bucks.

How to choose who to breed to, to get the future generations I want. That's where I am really lucky. I know a woman who keeps several bucks, and she steers me in the direction I want to go, she disbuds my kids, and is my first resource when I am faced with a new situation.

I'm looking forward to reading Deborah Niemann's book, Raising Goats Naturally.

Thekla
 
I agree. Here's the link: http://richsoil.com/cards
  • Post Reply
  • Bookmark Topic Watch Topic
  • New Topic