Using sheep to clear underbrush?

Discussion in 'Sheep' started by johncotexas, Sep 1, 2010.

  1. johncotexas

    johncotexas Well-Known Member

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    I am looking to eventually clear some of the underbrush in my wooded areas and was told that sheep will eat the same things, Poison Ivy, Greenbriar, etc. that goats will. This was suggested as an alternative to the difficulty in keeping goats in a fence, especially one that is non permanent and being moved around. Any thoughts? I would rather keep sheep anyway for the wool and besides they are better looking and better tempered (IMO:D). Thanks in advance!
     
  2. wendle

    wendle Well-Known Member

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    Sheep are great for eating underbrush . I use electronet to keep them in their portable grazing areas.
     

  3. Ebenezer

    Ebenezer Well-Known Member

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    They will not kill species like greenbrier, just take the leaves off.
     
  4. Shoupie

    Shoupie Well-Known Member

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    You won't get good wool from sheep used to clean underbrush. It will be covered with twigs and vegetable matter and dirt. And honestly they're just as big of a pain in the but to deal with as goats when it comes to electric netting. Their wool insulates them so unless they touch an electric fence with their nose they don't feel it. Sheep are by no means more likely to stay in an area than goats are, they crawl and push down fences just like goats.

    Goats are much better at clearing brush because they actually like to eat the weeds, whereas sheep will usually eat them if they're the only thing available to them. Sheep much prefer grass and will only eat up to a certain level. Goats however will eat as high as they can reach which can be a good and bad thing.

    The main thing you have to keep in mind when using animals to clean underbrush is that there are some plants they're not going to want to eat and they'd rather break out than stomach those plants.
     
  5. johncotexas

    johncotexas Well-Known Member

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    Thanks for the advice. I think goats are the way to go and I will go with sheep for the lawn.:goodjob:
     
  6. Looking4ewes

    Looking4ewes Well-Known Member

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    I don't quite agree with Shoupie on keeping sheep in electronet. If a good charge is kept on it, mine stay in just fine. I use electronet 8 months out of a year.

    I borrowed 5 goats from a friend to clear the woodlot on the new farm. They did a fabulous job of it, and I only had to chase them down the road 2 times. The electronet was quite a pain to use, as the underbrush was very thick and thorny. I would use electric tape next time, though I don't think that will keep in sheep or goats. I would use pigs.

    Good luck,
     
  7. springvalley

    springvalley Family Jersey Dairy Supporter

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    I agree with Shoupie, I much rather have the goats for weed and brush
    clearing, as they have said the wool will be worth nothing. And the electric fence does work better for goats. >Thanks Marc
     
  8. birchtreefarm

    birchtreefarm Well-Known Member

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    I would say in general this is true, but a lot depends on the breed of sheep that you are thinking of keeping. My Icelandics will clear everything they can reach or pull down. I've watched them rear and push against brush or a small sapling with their chest, bend it down, walk over it while straddling it and holding it down, and then eat the top right off along with all the other sheep who rush over to help (rather like wooly pirahnas). Then they walk forward again until the sapling is freed and sproings back up into the air, completely stripped of all foliage. A few treatments like that and the brush and small trees don't stand a chance.

    I can electronet a wooded or brushy area and they will clear everything out within a few days. Saplings, brush, poison ivy, etc.
     
  9. Our Little Farm

    Our Little Farm Well-Known Member Supporter

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    We use both, sheep and goats. Both have great respect for electronet and neither go near it.
     
  10. springvalley

    springvalley Family Jersey Dairy Supporter

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    Oh, something else to keep in mind... if you have a lot of poison ivy or poison oak, the oils will get on the fur or wool of any animal. How allergic are you? Personally, I wouldn't want to shear and work with that wool, no matter what the vegetable content is.
    Catherine
     
  11. Bret4207

    Bret4207 Well-Known Member

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    A big 10-4 on the breed making a difference. My Romney/Dorset crosses won't lift their heads unless they're starving. Anything over knee height to a man is safe! And they will not be at all comfortable in brush. If they can't see a good 50 feet away they won't willingly go there. Coyotes, monsters, boogers abound in the brush in their minds and they do have a point.

    Now goats, oth, goats are natures natural defoliators. I've had to rescue goats that climbed trees to get some more leaves! Goats also need that line of sight security area, but they tend to be far more active in that respect than sheep. They will eat most brushy plants with relish, seem to prefer weeds over grass and stuff like wild grape, raspberry and thornapple are delicacies. The down side? I have yet to find a truly goat proof portable fence. I ahve high hopes for electronet, but my wallet is a little shy at the moment.