letting goats roam (brush control)

Discussion in 'Goats' started by Debara, Jun 3, 2006.

  1. Debara

    Debara Well-Known Member

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    I was wondring, arent you afraid that your goats will eat something poisonous when they are left alone in alot of brush? That might sound like a stupid question but, we have two pygmy goats that I would love to let loose to eat up some brush we have... but I am so afraid that they might eat something that they should not. I do not know what is all in that brush and i do not know about all the plants either. I have looked up many plants but did not see them on the poisonous list.. but am still fearful because the tree bears a small red berry, or some trees have flowers. oh, i just dont know. any suggestions?

    Thanks, Debbie :)
     
  2. topside1

    topside1 Retired Coastie Supporter

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    Debbie, I feel that you have no need to worry so much, my goats Boer/Nubian/LaMancha's all roam free on my small farm (20 acres) each day. You should occasionally review the poison plant lists that are available on the net or in books. My goats seem to instinctively know what's good for them, many plants will be passed up automatically just by it's smell. Here in Tennessee I only worry slightly about cherry tree branches that my fall during heavy thunderstorms. These leaves will become harmful to all animals when wilted. Walk with your goats as much as possible and identify what they won't eat it's either harmful or tastes nasty, but keep in mind what they won't eat this time of year they may devour at other times of the year. In other words in late March most anything green was going into their bellies and now that same vegetation is being ignored. Keep reading, keep us posted, goats are great....Tennessee John
     

  3. KSALguy

    KSALguy Lost in the Wiregrass Supporter

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    as long as they are not starveing and have LOTS to choos from they wont eat something bad for them, goats are not as Dumb as some folks think, they can tell if its bad for them or not,
     
  4. witchysharon

    witchysharon Well-Known Member

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    Make sure your goats get fed some hay or grain/feed before they are let out to range. Hungry goats are more likely to eat something they shouldn't. You hear about goats getting poisoned all the time....so they don't always know instinctively what is poisonous. Some goats have escaped their fences and headed straight for the poisonous bushes growing nearby!

    Perhaps cross reference the poison plant lists with the plants growing on your property. I walked our entire 22 acre pastures and adjacent areas just to be sure. It was a good thing i did since we have water hemlock (one of the most poisonous plants) growing near the creek, which i immediately took care of. I check once a month too because birds bring in seeds of plants in their droppings and some could be poisonous.

    John is right about the time of year...when goats have been getting hay/grain all winter long, they seem to devour new spring growth and won't be as selective.
     
  5. ozark_jewels

    ozark_jewels Well-Known Member Supporter

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    I have lots of water hemlock too and my goats munch it right down to the stalks. Same with pokeweed. It does depend on how much of their diet consists of it and if your goats are used to browsing. If they are used to browsing, they eat a little here, a little there, and move on. If they are not used to it, they may eat all they can find of the first thing they see and that can be disasterous. As has been said, let them out on a full stomach, for a limited time for the first week or so, then let them stay out all day. Browse is one of the healthiest things you can do for your goats.....and its so cheap!!=)
     
  6. witchysharon

    witchysharon Well-Known Member

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    Water hemlock roots are the most dangerous part of the plant, although all parts are potentially dangerous. They are tuberous and divided into chambers which contain the poison. In the spring when the plants first start to emerge is the most dangerous time because they can uproot the fragile plant and eat the roots. One root can kill a cow.
     
  7. Jen H

    Jen H Well-Known Member

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    I've found that if you feed the goats some hay before letting them out to browse, any potentially poisonous plant they do munch on gets diluted down to the point where it does no harm. Goats normally munch here and there as they wander, a mouthfull of rhododendron won't kill them (or mine would all be dead right now), neither will a mouthful of bracken fern (again, mine would be dead after sampling some).
     
  8. ozark_jewels

    ozark_jewels Well-Known Member Supporter

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    WitchySharon, I'm not argueing with you. But let me state that I have a LOT of water hemlock on our 100 acres. If I were to take the time and trouble to uproot and burn every piece of water hemlock(not to mention every other "toxic" plant on the place)that exists here.....I could never milk or feed or do anything else thats needs done here as the task of irradicating "toxic" plants would take all my time. I have been browsing goats on areas with water hemlock, pokeweed and other toxic plants for six years now and I have yet to lose a doe to plant poisoning.....pretty good, I think. Now, if you only have a few toxic plants on less acreage.....and you want to remove all of them....Go for it!! Not saying anyone shouldn't. But in my opinion, with proper care taken, its not a have-to-case. Again, not areguing with you......=)
     
  9. lgslgs

    lgslgs Well-Known Member

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    We have 8 goats and a cow on 15 acres during the day, and confine them to about 1/2 acre at night.

    The only problem we had with poisonous plants was in the winter when the closest greenery to their night pasture was a rhododendron bush. It was so tempting that they had to charge over and munch on it as soon as they were let out of the night pasture, so we got rid of it.

    When they have ample everything, they are very picky about what they eat and steer clear of the stuff that's bad from them. They also seem to know at what times of year to eat certain plants, and at which times to avoid them. Pokeweed gets eaten only at certain points in it's growth cycle.

    Lynda
     
  10. witchysharon

    witchysharon Well-Known Member

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    Not arguing either :) I do think goats are less susceptable to poisoning from many kinds of plants that would otherwise kill other livestock. Take for instance oak which is toxic in certain circumstances to cows etc. Goats are basically immune to the tannins because of a tannin-binding protein in their saliva. They are one of the few ruminants with this salivary protein. They also have an enzyme known as atropinesterase so that they can eat atropine-containing plants like deadly nightshade. Goats are just amazing animals!

    But knowing people who have lost goats to poisoning, I get a little paranoid about poisonous plants. Yeah....I baby my goats too and they even come in the house on occassion. LOL Frankly my Pygmys are like family, so I, personally, do not wish to take even the slightest chance! ;)
     
  11. northstarpermie

    northstarpermie Well-Known Member

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    We are getting two female just weaned saanen/nubien cross goats in about a month. I would like to be able to let them roam free with our chickens & tukeys when we are home in the afternoons. These are our first goats, so I'll have lots of newbie questions that my books don't answer.

    With that said, I was wondering if we should have them fenced in for about a week or so until they get use to being here & the routine until we let them out? Or wait a little longer? They will be in a large fenced off area during the day. I'm currently looking at the bad plants list & we do have ferns, lots & lots of ferns. SO, I shouldn't have to worry about it if I feed them before I let them out? We live in the woods, no prairie up here & when there's an open spot, it been cleared by humans, fires, the '99 wind storm, or there's a lake there. I'm not too worried about them wandering into the woods, the rest of the animals stick around & so far we don't have a predator problem. Again, the animals are free when we are home.
     
  12. valsey

    valsey *

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    I'm no pro, but it might be a good idea to have some activated charcoal or kaopectate on hand just in case.
     
  13. Freeholder

    Freeholder Well-Known Member

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    Keeping them fenced in for at least a week or two would be a very good idea. That will give them time to feel at home at your place, and learn where the food comes from. Otherwise, you could have happen what has happened to many other people -- new animal gets loose right away (usually unintentionally on the part of the new owners -- critters can be pretty slippery) darts off into the woods and is never seen again.

    No, you shouldn't have to worry about the ferns as long as there is plenty of other stuff to eat. We had a four acre pasture in NH that had a big fern patch in one corner, and some false hellebore near a spring. The goats never got into either one, because they had plenty of other stuff to eat.

    Kathleen
     
  14. KSALguy

    KSALguy Lost in the Wiregrass Supporter

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    if you let them roam free with out being in a fenced in pasture you will need to put your cars in the garage and not have company that can park in your yard at all, or else you will have goat tracks all over them, maybe even a dented hood or a crator in the top of the car,
    also any decorative shrubs like Lilack and such will be gone,
    anything you DONT want them to eat, (if it wont hurt them) they will eat,
     
  15. topside1

    topside1 Retired Coastie Supporter

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    Debbie I hope we have answered your question to your satisfaction. Last bit of input from me would be if your goats have plenty of pasture/browse I wouldn't worry about them being poisoned. Whenever food is limited animals will begin to eat whatever in an attempt to survive. As I said before spend time with your goats, keep asking questions and most of all keep reading....Tennessee John