Goats have become internet superstars lately, racking up views for posing atop the downward dog in yoga classes, or their sheer cuteness as they cavort around barnyard. Not to mention the many hours baby pygmy goats have occupied our own screens over the past few months.
These frolicking barnyard animals are more than viral sensations. They have become green alternatives to gas powered lawnmowers. And we are glad for it.
What is a Brush Goat?
This term is generally used when referring to any goat used for purposes of clearing brush. There are some goats that breeders have labelled Brush Goats, but these are a combination of different goat breeds. Some types may do the job better than others depending on your current needs. For example, if you have a wooded location on your property that need some thinning, larger goats are more suited for the job of clearing branches higher up on trees, whereas an area of low growing shrubs and weeds can be taken care of by smaller breeds.
Before You Buy
You don’t have to raise your own herd. Check your area for services that rent out their goats for brush clearing. This is a great option if you don’t have a large parcel of land to clear and don’t want to dedicate valuable space to housing and caring for additional animals. If you’ve got extensive property or no access to a goat-mowing service, and are interested in raising your own for the job, invest in fencing to help keep them contained. Goats are high-jumping and energetic, so keeping them contained can be a challenge.
At the very least, install fencing at least four feet high to keep them secure. Electric fencing is another option, but goats are crafty and have been known to escape even these types of enclosures. If they manage to escape despite your best efforts, or if you’re trying to limit their range to a specific area, never chain them up. They could strangle themselves trying to get away.
How Many Do You Need?
Whether or not you’re renting or buying, evaluate how many are needed for the job. Take into consideration the size of your property, the type of brush being cleared, how quickly you want to finish, and the type of goat you’ll be using. Generally, three to four full sized goats can take care of about a half-acre of land in three days. Double the number if you’re using smaller breeds like the Pygmy or Nigerian Dwarf.
Keep in mind that goats won’t care about how hard you’ve worked hard on your veggie and flower beds, so unless you’ve got those areas protected from these munching marauders, be prepared to start all over again. We can help you with that. Replace what you've lost with these fast growing vegetables.
Despite the precautions you have to take and the threat of undoing some of your hard work, the good news is that they also don’t mind eating poison ivy and poison oak. Large patches of these pesky plants won’t bother your friendly garbage guts. They’ll gladly clear the area without hesitation, but take care if you have to touch them after their work day is done. The oils from the plants that cause allergic reactions may end up on their coats and remain active, causing you significant sorrow.
If you’re thinking of using goats strictly for urban lawn maintenance, a robotic lawnmower can be a good option. Or an electric one. Especially if you have a small area to care for and if you value the manicured look of a freshly mowed lawn. Goats aren’t interested in lawn aesthetics. They’ll skip or miss some of the tall stalks giving the grass a shaggy sort of haircut rather than a smooth, even trim of the lawnmower. Their grazing habits are more suited to an area you don’t mind looking a little rugged, like a meadow or field. Unless you don’t mind the shaggy lawn look, in which case we’re all for the natural lawnmower. Check your city ordinances for any restrictions regarding livestock.
Let these amazing animals help you work your land without renting expensive equipment or putting strain on your back.