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goats vs sheep

 
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Hi I'm new to this group. We bought 5 ac & are in the process of learning( about gardens, orchards, chickens, ducks). We have the back 4 ac that is currently weeds. We are looking into getting animals to help manage the weeds so we won't have to mow. I have been thinking about Nigerian goat does. I'm not sure if we would want to have milk, but thought we could if we decided. Today I read that goats are not good for pasture grazing and that sheep are better. Since we are not sure about milk I wanted to find out what is better. Also we don't have fence yet and will need to install that - knowing what the animal will be will help with the decision for fence.
 
master pollinator
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Sheep are generally better for weeds as they prefer it, where as goats like browse. Sheep area bit easier to keep in, tending to go under a fence, where as goats tend to go over a fence. Goats have a reputation for getting out of fencing, but sheep are only marginally better. I have good fencing (Page Wire), and while it is expensive, it has been years since my sheep have gotten out.
 
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I agree with Travis.
I would also suggest doing what my husband and I did. Buy some electronet from premier 1 supplies and get a couple sheep and a couple goats this spring. The electronet  is very easy to move and an inexpensive way to test if you even want livestock back there. I know that we learned A LOT this year (we bought wool and hair sheep and goats this spring). We started out last year thinking we were going to get hair sheep and possibly meat goats. Almost a year later we have decided on wool sheep and no goats. And we have learned where we do want permanent fences and will start putting some up this week. If we built perminant fences last year they would have been in the wrong places. Once you do know where to put your fencing, or you are confident in doing it the first year, you should  find the post Travis did on how he builds his fencing. We have not copied it yet but it seems pretty fool proof.

Personally, I think sheep are WAY easier to maintain. Goats have more parasite problems(especially if your not planning on rotating them) and are trickier to keep in. If you don't care about meat, milk, wool you fit look into retired animals tho. Some people have old dairy goats or old ewes that are too old to be bred. You may get a good deal on the older nannies or ewes.

If all you really want is to not mow, and you don't want them for any other reason, I would suggest that you think long and hard about if its worth it. They need more care than people think. There have been many times when we are late or can't make it to something because "the sheep are out" or "one of our goats got into the chicken feed and has terrible bloat" There is also those mornings when its freezing cold and sleeting but you still have to get up and make sure their water isn't frozen/feed them. Or when you can't go to a friends wedding because there isn't anyone able to feed the sheep. They can be very inconvenient, and if you don't love having them or if you aren't making a profit off them it may not be worth it in the long run. If thats the case there are a lot of programs with Dpt. of conservation that pay for half if you plant acres of pasture into butterfly or bee habitats. That may be something that would be easier than livestock. Then you could get into beekeeping instead! (I also have bees and they are so much fun)

 
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Here are some folks who prefer Goats over Sheep.  

 
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Pasture land, no trees or shrubs you want controlled means sheep are the right animal.

If the land is a mix of shrubs grasses and tall weed plants, then goats would be the best choice.

Sheep will, if not moved often, eat grass down to the roots, that is the one draw back to sheep that I know of.
Goats will browse a wide variety of plants, shrubs and bushes, they are also great escape artist so good, non climbable fencing is necessary.
Goats will self worm and self parasite control through diet if there are the right medicinal plants around (poison oak, ivy for worms, milk weed and some other plants for other parasites).

Travis has great knowledge on this subject, I'd listen well to his advice.

Redhawk
 
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If you can strim or now the weeds down a few times so that you get a shorter sward, then geese may be a better choice for you.  If you are already thinking of poultry, geese would be easier to manage than four legged critters, and easier to despatch if/when necessary.  Consider geese.
 
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The biggest problem with geese is that they eat grass, but little other vegetation. For the biggest bang for your weeding buck, get goats. The next nearest goat-like sheep is Barbados Blackbelly sheep, which are great under specific circumstances. They are a hair breed; so no wool to speak of, and any that develops can be pulled off in spring. No shearing. They are a light framed animal with long legs (I've heard "positively goats"  from visitors about 90% of the time, but their tails tell the tale. Sheep' down, goats' up.) Being of tropical descent, they can handle heat that decimates the meat/wool breeds, and are resistant to parasites. Their meat, though meagre compared to a wool breed, is wonderful, lots of flavour w/o the heavy fat taste that turns so many off lamb. They are skittish and can leap tall buildings (fences) when startled, but the new babies are very trusting, and usually come in multiples. Twins and triplets are common; quadruplets and quintuplets are not terribly rare in well-fed flocks..
When I had them, they'd eat brush and shrubs along with my goats. though mixed grasses were available as well.
I'd rather have these beautiful sheep, with or without the majestic horns some rams grow, than any wool breed sheep.
 
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Thank you so much, Sandra, for that tip on how to tell goats and sheep apart. I had seriously been wondering as I keep seeing these very goat-like sheep. Have and apple , and my thanks!
 
pollinator
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You cannot fence sheep in with electric wire. The wool grows and insulates pretty well. Both goats and sheep give milk sheep much less but better.
If you get a milk breed you do not have to milk but you can and it is  a lot of work only worth it if you are milking several.
 
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Don't look down on mowing.  I grew up with both goats and sheep. Previous comments cover that.  But much of their feed cam from mowing with scythes and feeding them in the corral where they could not escape.  I don't have them on the farm anymore but I still mow with my scythes and use the grass for mulch and building my soil.
See this video from the Great American Farm Tour
 
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Angelika Maier wrote:You cannot fence sheep in with electric wire. The wool grows and insulates pretty well. Both goats and sheep give milk sheep much less but better.
If you get a milk breed you do not have to milk but you can and it is  a lot of work only worth it if you are milking several.



I have kept sheep in electric fence for the past six years.  I use the portable electronet style.  Maybe you had something else in mind?
 
Angelika Maier
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I used wires and an East Friesian. Did not work. But they are more intelligent too,
 
Travis Johnson
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I have never been successful with electric fence either with sheep; both wire and electronet fence. I had a bunch of the latter given to me, and my sheep ran right through it. I had had two lambs get tangled up in it as well and died of electrocution, and so in short order gave it away. In retrospect I probably should have burned it. I do not use anything but Page Wire now. It is expensive to buy initilly, but in time is the least expensive.

One thing to keep in mind when considering sheep and goats is those that have gone before you. The average stay of goats on a farm is only 3 years, sheep are much, much longer. Its simple math, they are easy keepers.
 
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