Goats: Eco-friendly Weed Whackers

| 11/3/2008 10:39:18 AM

Tags: land stewardship, natural weed and pest control,

Hungry Goat

If you’ve got a weed problem, we’ve got the solution: goats. All across the nation, frustrated landowners are turning to these animals, who happily munch away on much-hated noxious weeds and other invasive plants without so much as a drop of gasoline. Renting goat herds has become a popular, affordable and effective way to control weed problems and reduce the need for herbicides — read more in this article from The New York Times. And don’t forget to check out Interview with the World’s Best Weed Eater, Mother Earth News’ exclusive interview with a real live goat!

iStockphoto/Judy McPhail

6/28/2013 8:54:48 AM

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11/20/2009 11:36:12 PM

We don't have fence problems with our goats so far. Perhaps because they're all so tame?! When some of them get out on accident... they cry till we put them back in! However, another thought, we do have a serious problem with our pygmy buck..... he IS destructive! Yet, we have no problems with the Nubians, Nigerian dwarfs or the female pygmy's. I believe if the pygmy buck was my only experience with goats... I'd say RUN! But, since we're raising the smallest ( 16 or less inches tall) goats possible for the city back yard (homesteader) all I can say is.... they're loveable, fun, funny and as good if not better than a dog.

4/10/2009 12:29:03 PM

Has anyone found a reliable way to save your tree bark form them??

4/10/2009 12:28:38 PM

Has anyone found a reliable way to save your tree bark form them??

brenda lane_1
11/13/2008 5:40:48 AM

Goats are great. If you have cats you will understand goats. They will take care of your weeds, yes, and walk all over your garden while doing it. They give milk. I raised my son on goat milk and he is healthy to this day. Goats are not like sheep nor cows. They are intelligent and curious beings. Yes, they get into trouble because they are curious and will check out anything new...this includes a new car/truck, new garden, new pet, and....new clothes too. They are wonderful creatures, if you get the right breed for you. I had several breeds and French Alpine was my favorite. My pet girl, Tippy, gave me a gallon of milk a day for years. She was housebroken and a real companion. Am just hoping to get my DH to 'let' me find another.

11/12/2008 5:01:36 PM

I shared a house with my best friend. He got two goats. First they eat the rose busches, then the pines, next the custom top on my 1954 corvette. In one year the property was nude of all vegetation. The male attacked from behind...us, the horses, the donkey! They don't call them RAMS for nothing...

michael walkerwicz
11/12/2008 3:29:14 PM

As the long time owner of Togs (Toggenburg)I've got to say never mind that goats have no sense of discrimination in eating. Beware that if you have friends or relatives who live in the city or are city that when they arrive with their brand new BMW that you may go out and find them on your visitors roof or hood. I too agree with the statement on reducing herbicides. Please don't forget farms are children friendly, never mind the goats. You don't want that crap around you or your family. As a life long hillbilly my friends you learn to live with the critters, and weeds since if you have goats, horses, cattle etc they do eat weeds. But, here again don't think for one minute any animal especially goats eat all the weeds. If you fall into that trap I want to be there the first time you are pulling miles of burdock's out of your foot foot buddies. As for wild dangers you will never rid yourself of all poisonous plants or coyotes etc if you live forever, nor would you want to. These creatures and plants all have purpose. Now as far as companionship there you will find no other creature quite like your goat(s). In these creatures love is their middle name. Many other goat owners will tell you their goat milk is this and it's rich in that Tog milk is the best and plentiful.Their manure is rich and not to hot mixed with my rabbits is great food for many things I grow. Also it also brings laughter when you are trying to explain what all those little raisin-et things are on your walkway to those less rural visitors. Goats bring great laughter and never leave you board and I believe everyone should have them as pets or a cash crop once in their lifetime because they will never see life the same way ever again. PS buy a weed-whacker and feed them well and that milk even gets better!!

d williams
11/12/2008 2:01:15 PM

Check out what poisonous plants are in your area as they could possibly be sustaining liver damage when they eat them. For fences we use 8-115-30 hinge joint (8 strands wire, 115 cm high, 30 cm squares) - the 30 cm is necessary so horned goats can put their heads through but also be able to pull them out otherwise they could get themselves into mischief - like they don't all the time anyway!!! And as for trimming hooves check this site out: http://fiascofarm.com/goats/hoof-trim-rf.htm

lee parker
11/12/2008 12:42:21 PM

Keep in mind that goats have NO sense of discrimination when when it come to eating. Keep goats away from anything you WANT to grow. And goats DO eat bark off trees...ask my mountain ash..wait..you can't...they're dead!

lee parker
11/12/2008 12:41:48 PM

Keep in mind that goats have NO sense of discrimination when when it come to eating. Keep goats away from anything you WANT to grow. And goats DO eat bark off trees...ask my mountain ash..wait..you can't...they're dead!

terri kelly_1
11/12/2008 12:37:34 PM

I'm a little biased, but I think goats are the perfect animal - they provide companionship, weed eating, fertilizer, meat, milk and, if you have a cashmere goat, the lovliest fleece you can comb out in the spring.

linda holler
11/12/2008 12:30:41 PM

I doubt that many of the people involved in this article have actually raised goats for any length of time. The first article is not even about goats. It is about sheep!! Comparing them to weed whackers is ridiculous. felix kelly has some true statements. Goats do not mow the ground evenly, like sheep. They eat here and there. They prefer shrubs, brush and trees. They will kill fruit trees or any other tree with thin bark when they tire of the weeds. They are impossible to fence reliably. Woven wire with a couple strands of electric will work for awhile, but if the power goes off, they will soon find a way over it. I lost many plantings in my vegetable garden and ornamental trees and bushes around my house. The only way to get weeds trimmed down to actually clear an area is to tie the goat so they have to eat in circle till everything is gone. This is cruel and dangerous. Goats are very adept at hanging themselves when tied out. In spite of these negatives, I actually loved our dairy goat herd and miss them now that I am working full time (especially the goat kids in the spring). They are valuable additions to a homestead, but find some reliable information before buying your "ecological weed whacker!"

norman davis
11/12/2008 10:25:06 AM

The goat sounds like a good idea. I know a few old ones. I thought that an idea not expored in the comments is goats provide the fertilizer too. Sure beats Wal-Mart.

11/11/2008 11:03:59 PM

I found only one item in the article that was distressing. The author stated that goats will reduce the need for herbicides. Reduce the need? Herbicides are big time polluters of the eater table. I find even the suggestion of the use of any herbicides abhorrent.

felix kelly
11/3/2008 8:27:22 PM

the concept that goats will eat anything is wrong. they prefer woody/stemmy plants like trees, shurbs, johnson grass, i found that they did not like aged bermuda grass when the stems got tough and they do not like the plants in the nettle family at all. i raised goats for several years and they trimmed the trees up as high as they could reach standing on their hind legs and the weeds in my pasture. they kept it like a mowed park. goats are browsers so they go from ome plant to another taking a bite here and there. on young trees and shrubs it may look like they are eating the bark but i found that they were just cleaning their horns.

joshua keirn
11/3/2008 3:54:13 PM

Goats won't eat the fence posts. There are a lot of misconceptions about how goats will eat anything. They might chew at the posts a bit, but they're not going to bring it down, and they'll probably chew less if there's a choice of tasty, fresh weeds! I second the companionship comment made above. In my experience, dairy goats (at least Alpines and Sables) are friendlier than meat goats (at least Boers), and they give more milk. I'd go for it, Robert!

robert baker
11/3/2008 2:01:15 PM

I actually like this idea, and have thought about utilizing this method myself to get control of a couple of fence lines I have around my back yard. I am worried that they will eat my fence posts, though. I know that goats will eat almost anything, and my dad has a problem with his horses eating the 4x4 posts that hold up his shelters and barns, so I was wondering if I would have a problem with the goats doing the same thing. I would also not want them eating all the grass and stuff in my yard. I know I would have to put them on a chain somehow so that they couldn't get to areas I don't want them in, but will they eat my fence posts? I used pressure treated 4x4's to build the fence because they were actually cheaper than the round fence posts I would have normally used. I just don't want to worry about a goat eating them...

shannon lasser
11/3/2008 12:53:41 PM

I have a small heard of Myotonic goats (fainting goats). Not only do they provide great weed control they also provide wonderful companionship. www.freewebs.com/triplejacres

paul gardener
11/3/2008 11:47:56 AM

And don't forget, not only do they not USE any gasoline...they can actually GIVE milk. When was the last time your weed-wacker rewarded you with a tasty healthy treat for letting it eat your weeds? As for us, we're not currently allowed goats on our suburban lot but we weren't allow chickens last year either and now we are, so anything's possible. Laws can be changed! P~ http://apaetoday.blogspot.com

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