Goats as weed control

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Mike McG
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Goats as weed control

Post by Mike McG »

sonOfdad wrote:... I also have goats as backup to take out any plant...
Lance,

What do you use your goats for? Here in TX they are a meat industry. somewhat like cattle, but on a smaller scale. I have also heard there is some use of rented goats for brush control. I have often thought that goats would be useful in bamboo groves to control the under brush in a similar manner. You would have to keep them out of the groves during shooting season, but you could also feed them the branches from the poles that were harvested. In a small manual operation you could balance the goats against pole harvest and avoid feed costs, especially in the winter. Anyone know of this being done already? Our horses certainly like bamboo leaves along with the smaller branches, I would expect goats would also.

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Post by Iowaboo »

What do you use your goats for?
Sometimes I consider the goats my mother's hobby since they earn very little cash flow, but I guess one could say that about most ag products these days when not mass-produced. We do sell alot of the kids to the local population of hispanics that work at the packing plants. But meat market doesn't create any positive cash flow this far north. The goats have to have shelter and have to be fed hay for nearly half the year and selling the kids for meat helps balance the costs. The real money is in exporting them and/or the dairy milk market where they pay 150 - 300 a piece for young does.

Regarding goats and grazing. They are like terminators. No plant is too thorny or poisonous for these animals. They would definetly eat every bamboo leaf they could. Since I'm new to bamboo, I'm not sure how the culm structure would hold up to goats. Any tree that has thin bark in their path will be dead. But they have a sensitive cambium layer. How exactly does water flow up culms? I would assume they would chew on the culms and generally in time rip the grove apart. If they were put in the groves for limited period of times to clear ground clutter, then the bamboo infrastructure shouldn't be compromised.

And now you know why there are no invasive plants here. Animals always move faster than plants.
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Goats and Bamboo

Post by Mike McG »

Lance,

I was thinking of the goats as more of a labor saving device, rather than as a device to make my fortune. Bamboo here in TX Zone 8b is green year round and could be used as fodder so no hay required. Shelter requirements are minimal, except they may need protection from the coyotes at night

The outer portion of the culm is relatively hard, dense, waxy, and has a high silica content. I would not think it would be particularly palatable to a goat unless it was starving. But on the other hand I know animals will try anything once or even eat things out of boredom. Sounds like a limited scale experiment is needed at some point.

By the way are there any weeds goats don't eat?

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Post by Iowaboo »

MikemcG wrote:By the way are there any weeds goats don't eat?
sonOFdad wrote:No plant is too thorny or poisonous for these animals
Well, possibly there are some that are too thorny. One that definetly comes to my mind that they will not touch is buffalobur. Goats tend to go out of their way to get the different plants. I hear people in some geographical locations run goats in their cow pasture to keep down brush and various weeds.



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Like Kyuzo (pictured above) in "The Seven Samurai," I've "...Killed (more than) two..." bamboos.

Post by CadyG »

I used to have a pair of Nigerian dwarf wethers, and they didn't like bamboo. They'd eat birch, maple, brambles, just about anything. But when I pruned the bamboo and gave them the cuttings, they ignored them.
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Post by Iowaboo »

I'll go fetch some dried up bamboo leaves today and test it on them.


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Post by Iowaboo »

Ok, so I didn't go fetch any dried up bamboo because of the white blanket that abounds outside my window.
I used to have a pair of Nigerian dwarf wethers, and they didn't like bamboo. They'd eat birch, maple, brambles, just about anything. But when I pruned the bamboo and gave them the cuttings, they ignored them.
Animals are like humans. Everyone has a different appetite for things. Even though I am known as the garbage disposal by locale, some relatives are picky eaters. I'm sure the nigerian dwarfs were just intimidated by such a vigorous and undwarfed plant.

But in reality, I do notice some goats are fussier than others, but when you mix a group of goats together, they clean the platter empty.


I shall try the game a little later this week.

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Post by needmore »

Do you think it is possible to control goats with bamboo?
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Bamboo as fodder

Post by Mike McG »

Cadyg, Goats turning up their nose at fresh bamboo leaves? They must live a pampered life in New England. :D Do I recall you saying you live on the Cape?

I am going to have to put up an electric fence on top of the fence posts to keep the horses from the bamboo. They think it is grass. I thought our regular horses had long necks, but my daughter?s latest acquisition, two Clydesdales, have topped all the bamboo coming up within about 5 feet of the fence line.

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Post by Iowaboo »

I think most vegetarian wildlife will consume bamboo. The native stands of bamboo were devoured by the cattle that the settlers brought in.

I don't think cattle would do much damage if put in there after the bamboo has shooted for the season, and is some form of timber bamboo with good culm size. Smaller culms probably would break under the sheer weight of a cow scatching its body on it.

Horses are worse than goats when they want to chew on stuff because of there top/bottom row of teeth. They have better grip to shred the thickest bark on the larger trees that goats could not dream of.
Do you think it is possible to control goats with bamboo?
If one feeds them poisonous raw shoots of a tropical species, that may control them :twisted:

If referring to a living fence, no. Just ask the multiflora rose that they consume as if its pizza.

I brought up a stem of rubro to test it on my goats today and gave a dried up leaf to 7 different goats. None of them refused, and they consumed it.
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Like Kyuzo (pictured above) in "The Seven Samurai," I've "...Killed (more than) two..." bamboos.

Re: Bamboo as fodder

Post by CadyG »

Mike McG wrote:Cadyg, Goats turning up their nose at fresh bamboo leaves? They must live a pampered life in New England. Do I recall you saying you live on the Cape?

I am going to have to put up an electric fence on top of the fence posts to keep the horses from the bamboo. They think it is grass. I thought our regular horses had long necks, but my daughter?s latest acquisition, two Clydesdales, have topped all the bamboo coming up within about 5 feet of the fence line.

Mike in Brenham TX
I swear, those goats wouldn't deign to even nibble the bamboo. They completely igored my offerings, choosing instead to strip the cedar shingles from the side of their barn. :lol: I even offer it to the geese, and they don't touch it either. But I knew a guy who bought a goat to eat the poison ivy that covered the back of his property. The darned thing would munch it like it was a delicacy. So goats have earned their reputation for eating pretty much anything. I don't know why my little guys were so picky.

Horses are another story. they'll sample anything if it looks like food. Every shrub and weed within horse-lip reach of the paddock fence is denuded.

I'm on the North Shore just south of Cape Ann -- the OTHER Cape -- opposite end of the coast from Cape Cod.
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Post by needmore »

I figured most goats would eat bamboo but the image of a goat 'jailed' by bamboo groves was appealng. I find them to be interesting to look at but I don't think I'm really prepared to take them on.
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Post by Iowaboo »

Yeah, my favorite animals around here are chickens, guineas, and ducks. They keep the insect population(such as flies, grasshoppers, ticks) down some in the summer and turn it into a more edible form of protein. I know grasshoppers are high-yielding livestock, but I haven't committed to them yet, or shall I say, maybe never. :?

I find them to be interesting to look at
Here are some pics I have taken this march, 2006. Granted, I usually take pics of the goats before they are culled, for what that's worth. :? :twisted:

Image
See the hairy, long-bearded beast in the top photo. Here he is in 2003, the year he was born. Kind of shows what happens when your not clean shaven.
Image
Image
Image

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RE: Goats as weed control

Post by Eastlandia »

Alright goat lovers, My 2 goats LOVE bamboo! In fact, some divisions of A. Gigantea were - oh wait?and some P. aureosulcata - were almost completely destroyed by them!
I own Nubians, two of them and with in a matter of minutes they can eat a ton. However, they are picky like most goats.... but I think they are too stupid to notice what they are eating. If it?s green, it?s good.
How much of the bamboo do they eat? um, all the leaves, and most of the stalk down to about a 1/4 inch. They like to chew on sticks too. Maybe they think they're dogs...
here are some pics for proof:
<a href="http://photobucket.com" target="_blank"><img src="http://i18.photobucket.com/albums/b102/ ... 5th/G2.jpg" border="0" alt="Image hosting by Photobucket"></a>
A top of P. Auerosulcata 'Alata'
<a href="http://photobucket.com" target="_blank"><img src="http://i18.photobucket.com/albums/b102/ ... 5th/G1.jpg" border="0" alt="Image hosting by Photobucket"></a>
Half way gone...
<a href="http://photobucket.com" target="_blank"><img src="http://i18.photobucket.com/albums/b102/ ... 5th/G3.jpg" border="0" alt="Image hosting by Photobucket"></a>
He then pulled the small culm from my hands and ran off. Hope it went to good use....
-Eastlandia
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RE: Goats as weed control

Post by needmore »

Brian, I was going to talk to you about planting some Bissetii at your place but now that you've trained the goats to eat it, I don't know :D
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