How to Use Goats for Pasture Management

Contract goat grazing is a new niche business that assists horse and cattle owners with pasture management. It is also utilized by cities to manage vacant lots, creek bed areas, or other public lands that need to be maintained without spraying harmful herbicides.

The goats are a brilliant solution to weed control, because not only do they eat pretty much everything that horses and cows won’t eat, but their feces does not contain any seeds. Due to their lateral chewing/grinding motion and ruminant stomachs, whatever plant matter comes out the other end does not contain any viable seeds – which further helps to control the spread of weeds.

Here’s another super cool tidbit from this fabulous video: Did you know that as goats graze poisonous plants, their guts (enzymes, bacteria, etc) develop a ‘memory’ of how to deal with those plants – and they pass this ‘knowledge’ onto their offspring?

Okay one last nugget from Lani Malmberg of Goat Green: When you spray a herbicide for weed control, you also kill the fungi in the soil. But to have a healthy grassland, the soil needs a 1:1 ratio of fungi:bacteria. So when your herbicide kills all the fungi, the soil becomes heavy with bacteria, which produces an even bigger weed problem.

If you’re like me and just crazy for stuff like this, then read Isabella Tree’s book, Wilding, and also check out Will Harris’ mixed species grazing method. You may notice in that post – written 3 years ago – that I suggest the very thing shown in this video as an excellent business idea! AND I would still pay someone with a herd of goats (and portable electric fencing) to come graze my pasture 🙂

How to Use Goats for Pasture Management

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5 thoughts on “How to Use Goats for Pasture Management

  • July 30, 2019 at 1:10 am
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    Thank you! I really love goats…and such a mine of information here about how soil and plants organize and self-manage that so much counteracts the entirely erroneous notion that the vegetable kingdom is inert, anonymous and devoid of intelligence and personality!

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    • July 31, 2019 at 1:06 pm
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      Anna Breytenbach did an interview recently where she talks about her communication with plants – and how distressed they are by the growing practices of mass agriculture. I have a lot of difficulty picking veggies/greens that I’ve grown and have to have a conversation with them – permission, blessings, gratitude, etc. during the process as I don’t find them any less sentient than animals. Numerous experiments have confirmed that plants indeed have emotions, cognition, react to pain (slashing, cutting) etc.

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  • July 30, 2019 at 10:51 am
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    AND – the use of sheep to control forestry tenures is coming back! The province sprays glyphosate from helicopters like it’s going out of style, in order to kill deciduous trees that threaten their lumber plantations. Frick, don’t even get me started on forestry malpractice in BC – but I’m really encouraged to see contract grazing as an alternative to spraying the forests!

    A note on goats – people say “they’ll eat anything”, but, like with pigs, this is only true if they are incarcerated and functionally starved. They are actually quite selective otherwise!

    Also, goats are the best <3

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    • July 31, 2019 at 1:01 pm
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      I didn’t know that! And yes, don’t get ME started on forestry *#@!*#$@! in BC!

      So for the goat’s selective grazing… have you noticed WHAT they tend to eat and what they ignore? Just wondering how ‘much’ clearing they would do if given choice… And would they choose hay over fresh weeds (even if the weeds weren’t their favorite plant)? Or does fresh rule?

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      • August 1, 2019 at 9:24 am
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        My herd tend to obsess over one kind of plant – dandelion, apple tree bark (grr), mum’s flowers, broadleaf grasses, etc… and then lose all interest for a while, moving on to some other smorgasboard. Even hay, they go at with great excitement and then leave piles and piles of it to be pooped on. From what I’ve seen, sheep are much better at staying focused while grazing, evenly levelling a field, but also – I’ve interacted with either large flocks of sheep or very small herds of goats. They might behave differently when there are a lot more of them. Definitely at our place, where weeds are abundant but so is grass and other yummy stuff, we do not have good weed control from the goats or pigs, because of letting them roam at will.

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