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Coastal 101 | Animals | March 11, 2019

Using Goats for Brush and Plant Control

Goats are wondrous creatures. These bleating-when-their-hungry critters are great for milk and meat, but they’re even better at clearing away unwanted vegetation from pastures and other areas. Whether you hire a herd or you have your own, here are some ways goats can be used to remove blackberries and other invasive plants from your property.

Start with Fencing

To keep goats from wandering off and eating vegetation you want untouched, it’s important that you use a fence. People who work with goats for a living, like Josh Farmer with The Goat Lady, appreciate the effectiveness of electric netting.

“We’ll cut a four-foot trail around the area we’re working with and erect electric web netting,” Farmer said in a friendly, approachable demeanor.

You can find plenty of fence options at your northwest owned and operated Coastal, including Powerfields 40-inch Electric Web Poultry and Goat Netting with Posts.

Farmer, who is known in the Seattle area as a goat whisperer, can run anywhere from a day crew of 25 goats up to a larger herd to clear out acres of land. Fencing and understanding what goats can and cannot eat is a big part of the company’s success.

“As they work, we work,” Farmer added. “Anything that they cannot consume or reach we will cut down by hand. When it’s done, the client should be able to walk through the area.”

Keep Your Goats Safe

A fence keeps your goats in, but it’s up to you to ensure they don’t eat anything that can harm them. Contrary to popular folklore, goats don’t eat tin cans and other inedible objects. But they will eat something poisonous or damaging to their health if given the chance.

The Oregon State University Extension Services has posted an article on Poisonous Plants Commonly Found in Pastures that can be useful. In addition, the following list of plants can be fatal for goats:

  • Bracken fern
  • Buttercup
  • Cherry Trees
  • Chokecherry Trees
  • Common Milkweed
  • Elderberry Trees
  • Foxglove
  • Kale
  • Lantana
  • Lilly of the Valley
  • Locoweed
  • Oleander
  • Plumb Trees
  • Poison Hemlock (or Water Hemlock)
  • Pokeweed
  • Ponderosa Pine
  • Poppy
  • Potato
  • Rhododendron
  • Rhubarb
  • Spurge
  • St. John’s Wart
  • Yew

Don’t Expect a Miracle

Goats can clear out brush and other vegetation, but it can often take several days or even attempts to clean an area completely. Depending on the foliage and the underbrush, it can take a combination of goat and human work to clear an acre of land.

Where goats shine is on steep and uneven terrain that machines cannot easily access. Additionally, goats have quickly become a popular alternative to sprays and poisons to kill off vegetation around irrigation, in neighborhoods, or around other livestock. Even cities such as Portland and Seattle have begun using goats to clear land faster and cheaper than chemicals or people.

See our article What to Know Before You Get a Goat to get a clear understanding of what it takes to raise goats and put them to work.

Coastal Loves Goats

You’ll find everything you need to care for your goats, including Vitalix Goat Choice Tubs to ensure they get plenty of protein. Stop by today and tell us about your plans and we’ll show you what you’ll need. Already have a herd of goats? We have the fencing and medication you need to keep them healthy and safe.

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