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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hi, we are going to take out our Russian Olive trees and I was wondering if anyone had a good idea for an alternate. Is there a good tree the goats won't eat, isn't poisonous, and doesn't have inch long thorns? Oh, and is drought resistant? I understand we would probably need to protect the trees while they are young. Our goats love the Russian Olive trees but the thorns are horrible to deal with!
Tonia
 

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Dave (TDG Farms) S.E. Washington State
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Dont know of any other tree that a goat wont destroy other then the Russians if they are able to forage on em. Aussie Willows are a great tree for this. They grow from sticks and with the right amount of water can grow 10' a year. They also have lots of shoots that come off the trunk of the tree and act like huge bushes. The leaves are small, not unlike the Russian leaves. Clean bug resistant trees. But I have no idea how well they would manage vs hungry goats. I can tell you that they goats LOVE em... as a few of my goats have gotten out and had at em at the end of their first year but they recovered perfectly. Would guess you would have to wait at least 3 years to let em loose on em. The leaves are 20% protein.
 

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Within My experience range ( 13+ years, hundreds of goats, all most all breeds and crosses, and a 400+ acre pasture in the Flint Hills of Kansas ) I can say I have not seen the tree that a goat will not devour the vegetation off of if it can reach it. All of the trees in my pastures have been meticulously trimmed to eight feet off the ground. If the goats trim a big enough percentage of the leaves off the trees during the growing season the tree will not survive. So all small trees are killed. And some young trees that are tall enough that the goats can't get that percentage eaten off, are then killed in the Fall and Winter months when the pickins are slim and the goats bark the succulent young bark off. If this same tree had survived a few more years and its bark become a little less tasty it might have been passed by and survived. If a tree is barked all the way around it will not live. It may look OK for the rest of the growing season but the next year it will not show signs of life. I have yet to see the fruit tree that the goats won't bark immediately, from the ground to as high as they can reach. As there eating, I swear I can here them comparing it to a SNICKERS bar.
What ever trees you decide on, I suggest a tall, stout fence around them, far enough away from the tree that as the tree grows and expands out, toward the fence,the goats can't stand up on the fence and reach the growing tree. Remember my trees are trimmed 8 feet high. Deer are also a problem for young trees. An electric fence charger wire a little above and outside ( 4 inches or so ) the fence will detour their ravenous efforts. You must be vigilant and get it right the first time or they will get what they want, your trees! Pick a tree that the bark is not considered edible to the goats when it is full grown (possible a long lived hardwood ), at that point maybe the fence could be removed. Also full size trees can be protected from barking by wrapping the trunk from the ground to 8 foot with chain link fencing, multiple overlapping wraps. I love trees, But unfortunately so do Goats! The challenge never ends. Good Luck !
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
We live in Eastern Washington (central part of the state that only gets 12 inches of rain a year and is hotter and colder than the Spokane area).

We have one tree out in the field that the goats don't touch (someone told me the name, but I can't remember it) and then Russian Olives. The goats eat the leaves, twigs, and bark on the Russian Olives. I wouldn't care about them eating the trees as they will all be dead soon because they eat the bark - it is those darn thorns that get stuck in everything. My husband had a thorn from the Russian Olive tree penetrate one of his tire tractors!

Thanks for the input. I think we need to figure out how to fence off that part of the pasture first and then go from there.

Tonia
 

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Dave (TDG Farms) S.E. Washington State
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Howdy neighbor! Am in the Tri Cities here and can agree with the thorns on the Russians. On the old goat farm there was 10 acres of Russians that a good number of the goats were penned out on each year. Although the goats never had a problem with them in their mouth, they would get them in their necks and hooves bad. So we would have to check em for wounds every few days.
 
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