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Talk to me about brush clearing and goats

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  • Talk to me about brush clearing and goats

    We have probably 2.5ish acres of woods. Mainly black walnuts, trees of heaven, and millions (well seems like it) of pricker and poison bushes.

    Now...I like the wooded area, and while I don't want to completely get rid of it, I want it useable. I'd actually love to put a little cross country course through it.

    Problem...first trees of heaven spread like mating bunnies. Knock one down, 50 appear in its place. We have a walk behind bush hog we started the work with, b/c it was too thick to get the tractor though. Now we have also been bush hogging a bit with the tractor. At this rate I do think it will take us forever though. I was thinking of renting a bulldozer (or smaller skid steer) and pushing some of the stuff over and down. I was also thinking about getting some boer goats, fencing off an acre of woods and letting them have at it.

    So. Here are the impossibilities...1. Semi instant gratification (I want to see results and it took us a month to clear an area 50x100 pushing the bush hog around. 2. Economical, we are on a pretty tight budget, so as much as I'd love to hire somebody to come in and do it for us, that just won't happen. 3. Effective and relatively easy.

    For those of you that have cleared woods, either for pasture or for trails, what did you do? Anyone try goats for all the brush?
    Last edited by okggo; Oct. 10, 2008, 10:19 AM.
    Celtic Pride Farm
    www.celticpridefarm.com
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  • #2
    I have goats - had them for years. I credit them with only have to spray for weeds a couple of times.

    I'm not sure about the tree of heaven - how much they'll control that. I've come to the conclusion those things can only be killed by napalm. I hate those things.

    But the brush - heck yeah. Pasture rose, honeysuckle, greenbriar, blackberry, poison ivy, they're fantastic.

    Positives - excellent brush and weed control. Good with horses. Easy to care for (I trim their hooves, their shelter is a calf hutch lined with straw - though in really bad weather I keep them in a horse stall). They are very friendly, kind animals, and be kept as pets. I just keep a bowl of baking soda in their stall along with fresh water and a bit of hay. (baking soda as a buffer to keep them from getting bloat)

    Negatives - Not all horses like goats, so you may need to keep them in a separate field if the horses decide to use them as a football. They get out if you don't have the right fence. If they get out, they will eat your garden, and you may find them using your vehicles as a jungle gym. They will get out. Did I mention they will get out? Because if you don't have the right fence - they will get out!

    I love my goats.
    Brothers and sisters, I bid you beware
    Of giving your heart to a dog to tear.
    -Rudyard Kipling

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    • #3
      My FIL "rented" them to clean out his Kentucky Mtn property - they did a great job - especially on the thorny brush.

      perhaps see if a neighbor with goats wants use of "free" pasture for a bit?
      Now in Kentucky

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      • #4
        Our neighbors bought 3 goats a couple months ago to clear their brush. My mares next door were *quite* interested in them for the first week, as in .

        The fencing is livestock, plus that type of rabbit fence/garden that is webbed and electrified, plus our shared electric tape. Haven't had any escapes since the first day. They are selective in their brush clearing so far, but this is a couple acres so it might take awhile.

        I did make the mistake of calling the goats when I had the feed bucket in my hand. Won't do that again .

        I do have a question-I am assuming goat feed/grain is a big no no for horses? It is kept locked up and unavailable to critters, but I'm just curious.

        Comment


        • #5
          Some goat people recommend using a 10% sweet feed as in horse food for goats... one website I like that has LOTS of goat care info is fiascofarm.com
          If i'm posting on Coth, it's either raining so I can't ride or it's night time and I can't sleep.

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          • Original Poster

            #6
            Originally posted by J Swan View Post
            I have goats - had them for years. I credit them with only have to spray for weeds a couple of times.

            I'm not sure about the tree of heaven - how much they'll control that. I've come to the conclusion those things can only be killed by napalm. I hate those things.

            But the brush - heck yeah. Pasture rose, honeysuckle, greenbriar, blackberry, poison ivy, they're fantastic.

            Positives - excellent brush and weed control. Good with horses. Easy to care for (I trim their hooves, their shelter is a calf hutch lined with straw - though in really bad weather I keep them in a horse stall). They are very friendly, kind animals, and be kept as pets. I just keep a bowl of baking soda in their stall along with fresh water and a bit of hay. (baking soda as a buffer to keep them from getting bloat)

            Negatives - Not all horses like goats, so you may need to keep them in a separate field if the horses decide to use them as a football. They get out if you don't have the right fence. If they get out, they will eat your garden, and you may find them using your vehicles as a jungle gym. They will get out. Did I mention they will get out? Because if you don't have the right fence - they will get out!

            I love my goats.
            LOL...okay, so what kind of fencing? Our horse pastures are coated electric wire, spaced 11" apart starting from the ground, 5 strands. I really want something mobile b/c I'm sure we will be moving them around quite a bit, and the wooded part is actually fenced off from the horses, so they would be in there solo.

            Okay...so what KIND of goats? Boer?

            3dog, I'm sure our horses will be the same way, WTF! Although they don't seem to care about our dogs.
            Celtic Pride Farm
            www.celticpridefarm.com
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            • Original Poster

              #7
              Forgot to mention on the fencing, we have a TONNNNNN of high tensile. The people that had the place before us had sheep. We took down all their fence and put up the coated wire from Ramm for the horses.

              So...we could run wire and electrify it, as long as there isn't a way for them to squeeze through it or jump it (do they jump, they just climb, right?). I'm goat clueless, hubby raised pygmies (sp??) so at least he knows how to care for them.
              Celtic Pride Farm
              www.celticpridefarm.com
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              • #8
                I love my goats!! I've got a mother/daughter pair of French Alpines. One is lame right now and on Adequan injections from headbutting.

                http://www.noble.org/Ag/Livestock/GoatVegetation/

                http://www.sheepandgoat.com/weed.html

                All I have to say is "girrrlllls" and they come a running. They have done an outstanding job on my pasture weeds and love to strip a wild rose bush along with the freakin' honeysuckle we have out of control.

                I had to put up livestock fencing over my rubber-coated tensile and in another one I've got electric tape. They will get out if they can. They really will!
                "Concern for animals is a matter of taking the side of the weak against the strong, something the best people have always done." Harriet Beecher Stowe 1811-1896

                Ponies are cool!

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                • #9
                  I'm getting two Boer/Alpine cross goats next year. I already "own" one (Hank) but he is staying at my friend's place until I can get a companion for him next year - probably one of his brothers. My friend's friend raises goats for meat and Hank was a bottle baby that they didn't want to slaughter. I'm really looking forward to some weed control because I've totally lost the battle with the sagebrush and knapweed out here.

                  I did notice on my grain bag (Nutracool) last night that it said NOT to feed it to goats or sheep. I think it was because of the copper content? Might have been something else, but I'm not at home so can't check right now.
                  Crayola Posse - Pine Green
                  Whinnie Pine (June 4, 1977 - April 29, 2008)
                  Autumn Caper (April 27, 1989 - May 24, 2015)
                  Murphy (April 28, 1994 - May 5, 2017)

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                  • #10
                    Originally posted by 3dogfarm View Post
                    I do have a question-I am assuming goat feed/grain is a big no no for horses? It is kept locked up and unavailable to critters, but I'm just curious.
                    Our's won't eat goat feed. They do very well on horse feed.
                    You do need to check and make sure that there is nothing toxic in your area that you want the goats to eat cause they will eat toxic stuff. Keep in mind they will also strip bark off your trees if they take a notion to. <Sigh> We used to have so many beautiful dogwood trees.
                    You know why cowboys don't like Appaloosas?" - Answer: Because to train a horse, you have to be smarter than it is.

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                    • #11
                      I have one that won't eat goat feed too! Currently she is on a complete horse feed and BOSS. I tried to wean her on to goat feed, but if I even have 3 pieces of goat feed in the horse feed she won't touch any of it.
                      She is an old goat so she gets blanketed in the winter, I just found a Weaver foal blanket that fits better than the dog coats.

                      If I get really nice hay I'm able to keep them looking good on that and minerals alone.
                      Except for what they eat on pasture of course.

                      We really like our goats, they haven't been a problem at all to keep inside the fence. They will only leave their fenced area if I go with them.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Ponies instead of goats

                        A friend of mine uses Exmoor ponies for the same purpose. She leases them to conservation organizations to clear brush and keep fallow areas trimmed. She has cleared a couple acres on her own property, where the wild brush includes predominantly roses, honeysuckle and barberry. I'm not certain they are as high-powered as goats when it comes to tough brush, but I know they ate even the roses.

                        They are very tough and low maintenance, and can be kept in with electric tape fence... I think there's been some use of them this way in the UK, too. Google "conservation grazing" and "Exmoor ponies" and you should find some of the reports from the UK.

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          I'm all for goats, I LOVE goats, especially the Nubians. Love those Roman noses and BIG ears! And they will eat anything and everything. But like others have said, they will get out. If they are truly determined, I don't think anything will keep them in place. But give them good (i.e. rough grazing areas that you want cleaned up), some love, attention, a handful or two of grain, and they'll be more inclined to stay.

                          Did I mention that I love Nubians? :-)

                          Donk

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Well, years ago my friend's neighbors cleared ten acres with a small herd of goats. They ate down the blackberries and the poison oak and small tree seedlings in about a month. The fence between the places was old field fencing, 4 x 8 mesh and I don't recall they ever got out onto my friend's place, but dimly recall they leaked through a different side.

                            Since we've moved here my DH has gotten into a convo with the local goat guy, because he likes goats, and I like goats (especially LaManchas, yes I know they look *different*). Now you have to understand that around here the standard of fencing for the common man (and woman) is 4 strands barb wire on wood post, tpost, tpost, wood post, or field fence with one barb on top. Falling down is OK, just weave some barb through it and tighten it up with that. And if you can fasten your fence tree to tree, so much the better as trees are free. So the local goat guy has instructed DH in the finer points of collecting pallets and other found objects to pile inside your wire fence to keep the goats in (the short sides of old aboveground swimming pools seen to be his fave). Unfortunately, as we have all found out in the neighborhood, some of this merely provides a good launching platform for the little mountain climbers. So, rather than give our neighbors (who really do live in a stone mansion next door to the ol' doublewide) heart failure by building our very own linear bonfire on the property line, we are going with the recommendations in some books the DH has collected. Those books say that you can keep goats inside electric fence as long as the distance between wires is close enough. I think it says 12" or less. We are planning perimeter fence of 2 x 4 no-climb and some 4 x 4 "goat fence" internal fencing, then electric for the bulk of the place.
                            What kind of goats to get? Well, Boers are good for meat, the dairy goat breeds are good for milk and cheeses and can be eaten as well, but for ground clearing I'd just get whatever is cheap at the auction. No bucks though, wethers or does only, they'll be easier to sell.
                            Courageous Weenie Eventer Wannabe
                            Incredible Invisible

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                            • #15
                              here's my sure fire fencing tip---get OLD goats!!! you can find them for free usually on craigslist. also fainting goats climb and jump less than their more agile cousins. our goats are around thirteen years old,,the only trouble they get into is occasionally getting their horns stuck in the livestock fencing and getting all twisted up. has happened twice in eleven years. this fall is the first time i've had to provide any vet care for either of them too--one got bit by a dog and needed attention. other than that,,they've been super healthy and excellent at keeping the brush down,,as well as totally eradicating the invasive bamboo over the years. love my goats!!!

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                              • #16
                                love 'em! I have 3 right now. I've had goats with my horses for over 20 years. They are the first things into new areas as we clear. They do a pretty good job, but are selective as to what they will eat, so you can't just assume they can subsist on nothing but what they can scavage- depending on what you have to offer. Mine eat Blue Seal Caprine. It's a 14% sweet feed. I think it's called Challenger also, and sold as a general livestock feed( horses included). You need good fencing and a good shelter. They HATE to get wet. Mine are just pets, but get a Tetanus, Rabies and CDE shots every year. they also need a worming schedule, just like the horses. Hooves need to be done as needed. I did have one wether who lived to be 18 years old who never had to have his hooves touched. He wore them down very nicely all by himself. Here in New England, lots of rocks for playing on do the trick for some. They waste a lot of hay. I've tried a hay rack,a hay bag with tiny holes, a canvas hay BAG with an opening, and a bag within a bag, and I still end up with a pile of hay that , once it hits the floor -is uneatable( according to them!) . Luckily, the horses clean up any left outside leavings. anyway, if you can deal with a long term commitment( they can livea s long as a dog) go for it. I prefer the larger breeds, myself. I have a Toggenberg, her daughter( a Spanish Dwarf cross- can't figure that one out!) and a Sanaan. I do love the Nubians, though.

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