The Walden Effect: Farming, simple living, permaculture, and invention.

Goats eating weeds

Goat tractor
"So, basically, you have two weedcutters now?" --- Roland

You got it!  Cleaning up weedy edges has been one of the major selling points of goats, and I was excited (after the rain finally let up) to see how our girls would fare in that department.  To that end, I made a temporary pasture using six cattle panels, encircling a roughly 650-square-foot problem area.  This spot is where the old house used to stand, and where blackberry brambles and honeysuckle have since taken over the decaying wood.  Could Abigail and Artemesia help us with this thorny problem?

High weeds"Glad to!" they chorused.  The top photo shows the area a day and a half after goat action began, at which point I was already starting to be able to see wood rather than simply a huge thicket of weeds.  In contrast, the photo on the right is the before shot, taken moments after our goats were let into the pasture on their first day.  Our girls enjoyed the browse so much that I had to bribe them with a little sweet corn Tuesday evening before Abigail would let me put on her leash for the walk back to the starplate coop.  (I've learned that Artemesia doesn't need her own leash --- she just trips along behind.)

The bad news for those of you who are itching to go out and get goats is --- I don't think our girls are going to take the weeds down to the ground.  They're so good at carefully plucking the leaves off the stems that the blackberry brambles and honeysuckle vines are still left standing even after the girls are done eating.  Perhaps in the dead of winter, when pickings are slimmer, our goats will be more prone to do a total rehab on a weedy spot like this, but I suspect we'll instead be sending Mark in with the Swisher to bring this area back under human control.  I guess that's why we got two weedcutters, right?

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About us: Anna Hess and Mark Hamilton spent over a decade living self-sufficiently in the mountains of Virginia before moving north to start over from scratch in the foothills of Ohio. They've experimented with permaculture, no-till gardening, trailersteading, home-based microbusinesses and much more, writing about their adventures in both blogs and books.

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Nope goats don't eat weeds to the ground but if you put them into the area a few times they will kill the weeds due to repeated defoliation. Just think of it like your chicken pastures but you want the extra pressure on them :)
Comment by Bw Thu Oct 16 09:39:45 2014

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