Goats for land clearing

hrsegrrlMarch 26, 2010

We recently aquired a handy-man special on 5 acres. A lot of time and money is going into the house to make it liveable. Previous owners forclosed and took EVERYTHING (water heaters, a/c, interior doors, lights, faucets, etc..) My husband and I would like to work on getting the 5 acres cleared. With time and money being an issue we are considering goats. Here are some of my questions- What kind? While the pygmies are cute, will they be productive? Should we look for a meat goat? How old can they be before the are unedible? Is that even a problem? How many? Property isn't fenced, what do you recomend? Can you tie a goat out? Thanks for your interest and help.

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nhsuzanne(z5 SW-NH)

My goats only eat the things I don't want them to eat. I would check with people in your area. Tying a goat out would be considered cruel. I think machinery is the best answer to clearing your five acres.

    Bookmark   March 26, 2010 at 11:16AM
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I must agree with nhsuzanne, having a machine come in and clear the land is the best idea. Here in Texas we have a description of worthless scrub land that has been grazed down to the subsoil--"goated out".
Even with a fence, you would have trouble keeping goats confined. They climb! And if you staked a goat out, it would have to be with airplane cable--they'll chew through anything else.
We bought a repo farm here in Texas, so I can sympathize with wanting to keep costs down. However, saving a bit now can be very costly in the future if you do the wrong thing, and I fear goats are wrong for your situation.

    Bookmark   March 26, 2010 at 4:51PM
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Naomi Miller

I have to agree with the other two posters... we have Pygmies and they are picky eaters...they are not your typical 'garbage eating' goats who eat anything .... some goats will eat brush but most bred outside of mountain free range land are started on feeds and will love certain plants and totally ignore others... mine free range a fenced three acre pasture with the other livestock and get feed too....I have a close friend who raises dairy goats and others but she agrees that counting on them to eat what you want them to is a pipe dream, lol..... also, you could never count on them staying on five acres unless they are raised there and know their boundaries.....mine were and still they figure how to get outside of the pasture to that honeysuckle or fresh crabapple blooms, lol.... and they never head for the brush in the surrounding woods..more so to my garden, my flower beds and the neighbors lawns,lol...fortunately, mine know their names and know to head back in when I use 'that voice' that means "you had better get back in that fence" but I have had them for several years since babies.....with that said, my vote is for rented machinery to do the job...clearing with goats, even if they did do as you wished would take years...... it is not like they will work an area to satisfaction and move on..... and tying them is not an option, they are strong and stubborn.... I love them but they are what they are, lol....good luck with whatever you choose....

    Bookmark   March 26, 2010 at 7:49PM
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I'm not one to jump on the bandwagon. Goats can do a very effective job of clearing land and have done so for 1000's of years. If left long enough it is true the land will be barren, but that is where management comes in.

You will need some sort of fence, try a portable electric fence and/or cattle panels you can move every few days as the forage gets eaten. Tying goats is only a good idea if on flat cleared land and if you are there to watch them constantly. Tying them in a land-clearing situation is surely asking for a hung goat, a very dead hung goat. Consider whether there will be shade in the area you move the fencing to. If the herd you buy from isn't behind electric fence, you will need to train your goats to the electric fence-or they may just run right through it. Another consideration is predation. Electric set up correctly will deter many predators AND keep your goats in. Consider stalling them at night when predation is high. Note that goats are herd animals and you should get at least 2. Check your land for poisonous plants.

It is true many goats don't eat the garbage weeds. That is because breeders are raising goats on less and less land, supplementing with hays & grains to make up for the lack of browse. They simply havn't learned what is good to eat vs. what can make them ill, not to mention why should they work for their meal when it is brought to them in a pan & placed in the feeder?

I do recommend a meat-type breed. A milking breed has been far too pampered for far too many generations to thrive on brush growth. Buy from a herd that is pasture raised-a foraging herd. Goats learn what is good to eat from the herd queen who is very saavy in a forage-based herd.

Pygmies would do it, other breeds include Spanish Brush Goats, boer Goats, Kikos, etc. Meat goat breeders selling at auction input very little to their herd-pasture or forage based they are. That is where you should start as that is the type of goat that will thrive on forage.

Good luck and when you find a larger forage based herd, ask the breeder their management style & what they recommend for management in your area, predator threats, etc.


    Bookmark   March 27, 2010 at 9:10PM
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Goats are used for clearing, but ...

They can't be the agile tree-climbing breeds like Nubians or those white Swiss ones. Stocky meat breeds work better.

They have to be kept in a small section with a temporary fence until they have eaten all the brush down to the ground, then you move goats and fencing. If there are not enough goats to totally denude the area, they will eat the tender stuff and yhou don't get the brush cleared.

A human has to check the area for hazards like toxic plants and remove them before the goats go in.

Tying out is not a good idea, because the goat can't escape dogs or children.

    Bookmark   March 28, 2010 at 8:19AM
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I have no advice since I've never had goats but one thing someone here mentioned a few years back that I never forgot was this about fencing: Build the best, sturdiest fence you can imagine. Then, get a bucket of water and stand back and throw it at the fence. If even one drop of water made it to the other side of the fence, you need a better fence for goats. LOL, it wasn't said exactly like that but that was the gist of it. So, I'm assuming fencing would be a big issue to consider. Lori

    Bookmark   March 28, 2010 at 9:26AM
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We have used goats for land clearing , and have had little trouble with escapees or predation behind 60-inch fence panels. If you follow them with pigs, the land can be effectively cleared. I would recommend Boers, as they can handle both heat and cold, and are quite rugged. I have not raised Kikos, but another goat person here has raised them and said that they are capable of jumping most normal fences. Boers are shorter and stockier, so they don't jump. Don't tie them out unless you are there to watch them every minute.

    Bookmark   March 28, 2010 at 6:22PM
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albert_135(Sunset 2 or 3)

The Great Basin Wildfire forum has several mentions of goats in creating firebreaks. Search for ~ Great Basin Wildfire unr.edu goats ~ (Their websites are difficult to read unless you have a good pdf reader.)

    Bookmark   March 31, 2010 at 11:58AM
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