Clearing brush and reclaiming pasture with goats

Discussion in 'Goats' started by Ken in Maine, Dec 14, 2004.

  1. Ken in Maine

    Ken in Maine Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    574
    Joined:
    May 10, 2002
    Location:
    Saint Albans, Maine
    In the near future I'm going to be leading a discussion on the benefits of using goats for brush clearing and pasture reclamation here in Maine and would like to have some input from other parts of the country. What are your experiences?
    Any information would be greatly appreciated as well as any before and after pictures that you might like to share. Thanks for any help you can give!
     
  2. tonto

    tonto Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    118
    Joined:
    Jun 30, 2004
    Location:
    CA
    Don't get retired milk goats.

    I bought a 4 year old retired Toggenburg goat and a 3 month old La Mancha
    wether for brush clearing. The Toggenburg had been retired because of some
    problem with her teats. I never got the whole story.

    She will nibble a bit on stuff, but she expects to be fed store bought food.
    And the little guy just follows her lead.

    I guess it makes sense, looking back on it, but in all my research on goats
    that I did before I bought them, this issue never came up.

    If you are milking a goat, I can see why you want to control her diet.
    You don't want the milk to taste "off". After 4 years of that, there is
    no way she is going to get her own food. She's been trained that food
    shows up in the feeder.

    And, yes, I did try not feeding her for a few days when there was plenty of
    grass and brush in her very large pen. She would nibble a bit, but that's it.
    After almost a week, I gave up. So now I have 2 goat pets instead of working
    goats.

    Sigh.

    -tonto
     

  3. Sondra Peterson

    Sondra Peterson Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    422
    Joined:
    Dec 4, 2002
    Try this link and think you will find alot of info
    [ame]http://www.google.com/search?hl=en&q=using+goats+for+clearing+brush%22&spell=1[/ame]
     
  4. billooo2

    billooo2 Well-Known Member Supporter

    Messages:
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    Nov 23, 2004
    Location:
    Ohio
    Many years ago, I was living in New Hampshire. It was my first start with goats. I ran 3 strands of electric wire around an area (probably less than an acre). The area was filled with trash brush, small saplings, and a few small pine trees. I was not even thinking about the goats clearing it, but by the end of the second year, it was like a lawn. Someone told me later that goats LOVE pine trees. I fed them hay also. It seems that goats like a variety of things. They may not eat a diet of 100% brush, but they apparently like to "snack" on it. Anyway, my experience was that they eventually cleared it all out. I was milking these goats, and the production seemed fine, and we never noted any off-flavors, as long as we handled it properly (rapid, prompt cooling always seemed to be the biggest factor).
     
  5. TexCountryWoman

    TexCountryWoman Gig'em

    Messages:
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    Joined:
    Jun 22, 2004
    Location:
    Lexington Texas area
    I had a nice herd of dairy goats running free during the day and they cleared out all the poison ivy and tons of weeds. They worked diligently on the Youpon (Youpon hollY) and made the place much more cattle friendly as they left the grass alone. i have had possitive results from using goats to clear out weeds. My babies were born to that situation and didn't know differently. They were not hand raised and followed the lead of there motheres. In a matter of just a few years, they changed the look of the place from a jungle to a more manicured park. There was so much acreage, though, that it never got a "dry lot look. It just got cleaned up a bit and like i said "no more poison ivy". Also, they took care of so many of the over abundant dew-berry vines that cover everything. A friend of mine has her entire cattle ranch goat fenced (VERY EXPENSIVE). But the place is really groomed. The cattle get the grass and the goats keep the weeds at bay. It is an organically run farm so no need for weed killers to keep up the grass. It works beautifully. The goats are fed additional grain though as it is also a working goat dairy. But during the day, the goats have access to acres and acres. By the way, she keeps about 15 plus great Pyrenees and Anatolians to ward off evil.
     
  6. tonto

    tonto Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    118
    Joined:
    Jun 30, 2004
    Location:
    CA
    I'm in California so we have poison oak, not poison ivy.
    The goats won't eat it.

    They won't eat pine either. Or Eucalyptus, which is something else
    we'd like them to eat.

    They do like oak, which we'd rather they don't eat. If I'm trimming
    some of the trees I throw the branches in the pen and let them
    eat the leaves.

    -tonto
     
  7. Vicki McGaugh TX Nubians

    Vicki McGaugh TX Nubians Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    4,817
    Joined:
    May 6, 2002
    Location:
    North of Houston TX
    Our property was virgin forest. It had never been lived on before, although it had been timbered years back. It also had cattle running through it. Over 1000 acres, no fences, the roads had cattle guards on them. The place was sold to a developer, with one very large chunk, which we back up to going to a local guy. We have 13 acres of it, and actually because of problem with the developer, own alot more than this. We have 13 acres fenced. We did bulldose down a driveway and house, shop, barn areas.

    I have dairy goats, a herd of about 25 now that number was up in the 60's during the 90's. The girls have cleared all around the barns, as they have killed all the smaller youpon, trees etc., we mowed, so now we have grass pastures about 100 feet all around the barns, then mature trees, then the woods get thicker an thicker. The girls have cut paths through the woods that they then eat. We have taken out the majority of the pines because of pinebeetles, and use our propery for most of the firewood we heat and cook with during the winter.

    Unless you help the clearing along by brush hogging the exfoliated leaves from the understory, the goats will not clear the property unless it is way over stocked. The goats move on to a new area, the leaves come back on the plants, and you still have the same amount of underbrush. My girls also don't want anything to do with grass, now when it is belly high they do eat the seed heads off the top.


    They make clearing eaiser, it's simply eaiser to walk to machete fencelines or to brush hog or to haul in firewood, when leaves are off understory plants. They will kill vines that choke our trees, and eat blackberry and poision ivy and oak until it is dead.

    Any goat milk/meat/pet will not starve themselves, I have purchased goats who have never seen a tree, they live in barns with dry lots and are taken all their hay and grain. It takes them awhile to go out into the woods with the herd, they will follow them out, but once they get past the grassy area into the woods, they just stand there and bellow, even as the group leaves them. They eventually follow because they don't want to be alone. I think it is alot more to do with being afraid than anything else.

    But no, most folks dairy goats with their big unattached udders, would make very poor brush eaters, those udders would be all scratched up from the briars. Vicki