Using brush goats for
brush and weed
control instead of herbicides to clear out unwanted weeds is a must
for the organic farmer who is looking for biological weed control
additional benefit of making use of goats in this way is that they are
fertilizing the soil as they go and can also be used for their fleece
Chemical herbicides and pesticides are ruining our ecology. Using
herbicides and pesticides for clearing brush only targets the symptoms
not the problem. Herbicides into water supplies, kill off everything
indiscriminately, as well
as kill beneficial insects that are in the vicinity.
One weed that one cannot control in this manner is oxide daisy
there is no leaf surface for the herbicide to adhere to. Goats,
however, love oxide daisy and are perfect to control brush of this
goats will eat many rank grasses and
unpalatable weeds that other livestock will not touch. The fact of the
matter is that weeds, trees, shrubs and bushes are extremely
nourishing, and this is largely due to their deep roots systems that
are deeper than pasture grass.
As a result these plants are able to
reach a better supply of minerals and trace elements and are more
sought out by the goats who have a
higher need for these elements than
For those of you who feel that you
are over run with blackberry
on your farms and homesteads,
blackberry is relished by goats all year round and they will quickly
rid of this plant for you from your fields and paddocks. Except for the
thickest of canes goats will eat the whole plant. Raspberry canes will
also be eaten in the same vane, and as these are good for your pregnant
goat does, should be sought out.
Another favorite of brush goats is thistles
It is interesting to note
that they will only start to eat the thistles at the late flowering
stage, usually in late spring, early summer. Once goats start they will
eat the whole plant from the flower down.
real problem for
some farmers. It is highly invasive and
very difficult to control. Use your brush clearing goats for braken.
is not their favorite fare they will eat large amounts of it during the
late summer when there is not other green food readily available. They
will only eat the old fronds as the young fronds are toxic. It is best
to give goats who are eating bracken other feed to make sure that they
have a better balanced diet.
The same action should be taken for brush goats who are allowed to eat
St. John's Wort
It is a plant
that is high in copper so light skinned
goats can be affected by photo-sensitization. However, they really have
to eat a lot of it to be affected. Dark skinned goats are not affected
as much and can consume large quantities without being worse
wear. The goats will eat this plant in the spring at the flowering
stage and eat the entire plant.
Brush goats will also eat Patterson's
at the flowering stage. But
because they don't spread the seeds in their droppings you have no fear
of it springing up again the following season via the droppings.
Brush goats will eat more weeds here than what I have mentioned.
Plants and Weeds Brush
* Canada Thistle
* Cheat Grass
* Common Candy
* Common Mullein
* Dalmatian Toad Flax
* Downy Broome
* English Ivy
* Indian Tobacco
* Leaf Spurge
* Loco Weed
* Musk Thistle
* Plumeless Thistle
* Poison Hemlock
* Purple Loosestrife
* Reed Canary Grass
* Scotch Thistle
* Sweet Clover
* Yellow Star Thistle
Precautions needed for your Brush Goats
Generally, brush clearing goats will eat the flowers of
which helps reduce
the spread of weeds as they don't get a chance to get to develop to the
seed stage. Because the goat will eat the leaves too but may leave a
small stem the root system soon dies off as there are no leaves for
photosynthesis. However, this happens over a couple of seasons.
Take precautions with your brush goats when letting them loose in weedy
areas if you are not sure of how
these plants are
for your goats.
One way is to put an older, more experienced goat into the paddock with
the youngsters. If this goat has had experience with these weeds this
will be communicated to the youngsters as to what to eat or not.
Another precaution is to feed
your brush clearing goats
well before letting them loose in
. This way, whatever they eat, won't affect
even if what they have eaten is toxic.
Another precaution is making sure that you don't end up putting
long-haired goats into the blackberry patch
. The will get
caught up in the brambles. It is best to have short-haired goats for
this purpose or milking goats that don't have too much fine down.
Finally, near the water supply place
a large tub of baking soda next to
it for the brush goats to eat as a free choice
eating a single species plant for weeks on end. They will need to be
given a supplementary feed of hay or other feed.
Plants that are known to
be Toxic to Brush Clearing
* African Rue
* Brouwer's Beauty Andromeda
* Burning Bush berries
* Cassava (manioc)
* China Berry Trees
* Choke Cherries
* Dog Hobble
* Euonymus Bush berries
* False Tansy
* Ilysanthes Floribunda
* Japanese Pieris
* Japanese Yew
* Lily of the Valley
* Lupine Seeds
* Mountain Laurel
* Pieris Japonica
* Red Maples
* Rhubarb leaves
* Wild Cherry
Controlling Brush and Weeds with Goats is Time-Consuming
Using brush goats for weed and brush control is not a quick fix. For
those of you
who think that if you bring in more goats over a shorter period of time
you will be able to get rid of all your weeds you are wrong. It may
look as if your goats have done a good job in a relatively short time,
but you still need to keep them around for a long-term erradication of
Here is a personal
account of using brush goats for weed control:
In January, I bought seventy-five Angoras, as I had about twenty acres
of brush land that I wanted to reclaim. I kept the goats in sheds until
May. I had to put up a wire fence to keep them from visiting my
neighbours, and in early May turned them into the first section of
about 10 acres. I built a shed for them to stay in during nights and
The work they did was marvellous. In less than a month
this section had the appearance of having been struck by a cyclone, and
it was evident that the brush goats would soon require more land.
I wired the other section of the twenty acres, and when finished
allowed them into the other piece of ground, to which they marched in
military precision daily, returning to the shed at night or during the
approach of rain, which they seemed to foretell as accurately as a
It was not long before it developed that my brush
goats would require fresher fields or I must reduce my flock, as this
ground was all that I had of that kind. Consequently I sold all but
twenty-five, keeping twelve registered does, twelve kids, and one buck.
I waited anxiously for spring to arrive to see the effect
of their work done last season, and I must say I was pleasantly
In the first lot fenced there is scarcely a brush
left, no briars, and not even Canada thistles. The entire field between
the rocks came out this spring with beautiful, thick, green, grassy
foliage, mostly white clover.
On the other lot, part of the
brush tried hard to show its tenacity of life by coming out with green
leaves, but while writing this, the shrubs have fallen prey to
devouring brush goats, and green grass is coming out in about all the
ground that they have trod.
As far as I am concerned the brush goats have done an excellent job of
both clearing and cleaning up the land."
should be used for sustainable weed control as seeds of some weeds lie
dormant for many years and will only anchor themselves in the soil
under certain climatic conditions. Therefore, you will always need your
goats around to do their job. However, saying that it will only take
between 3-5 years
weed cycle is spent and will be totally
The golden word for putting goats on your property to help with the
weed problem is good
Your goats will need to be properly
fenced and they will need to be rotated through the paddocks. If you
don't have these two things in place you will soon find the land
stripped bare and your goats will escape, never to be seen again.
Using brush goats for weed control will not only help eradicate many
weeds on your property, and keep others at an acceptable level, but
unlike sheep, they do not eat the plant too close to the soil,
therefore goats do not
. Keeping goats for weed control
will also save you thousands of dollars on expensive chemical
herbicides and many who have turned to brush clearing goats have had
the added benefit
of improved health.
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