Clearing out Woods with Goats

Discussion in 'Goat Frenzy' started by imaginationacres, Dec 15, 2010.

  1. imaginationacres

    imaginationacres New Member

    Sep 27, 2009
    Hi everyone, I was wondering if anyone had some input on something I'd like to try this spring.

    I live on 20 heavily wooded acres, I currently have ten nigerian dwarf goats, 5 wethers and 5 does. My goats currently free range on all the acreage during the day, usually accompanied by one or both of the livestock pits. They are housed in an acre pasture with their goat barn at night for their safety.

    In the spring I'd like to start clearing out some of the wooded areas for more pasture space down the road and have heard that fencing off small portions of woods at a time and letting the goats work it down is a good way of clearing out the brush while leaving the mature trees behind. I'm curious if anyone has done this? I'm mostly wondering what size pen I should make, if an electric netting style pen would be adequate? I was thinking of keeping the 5 wethers in the pen, moving it as needed as they eat up the brush and then move them into their paddock at night to keep them safe.

    Any comments, suggestions, or thoughts are most welcome. Obviously before the goats would enter in each fenced off spot I'd check for noxious/toxic plants.. don't want any sick goats from yucky plants.
  2. mistyblue

    mistyblue Senior Member

    Nov 13, 2008
    Angleton, Texas
    My neighbor did this with her goats. She fenced off approx 1 acre at a time, it was so thick when she started that you could not see into it at all. Now a year later, you see and walk through, no underbrush at all, also she said once they had the lower part cleared she started putting spools out so they could stand on them and eat up higher. She knew this was going to be a permanent pen and used goat fencing around hers.

  3. Myakkagoater

    Myakkagoater New Member

    Apr 10, 2010
    I think what you are getting ready to do is a great Idea. I started out with 4 goats I bought to clean up an old orange grove that was about 3 acres big. It took them all year to do it but they were successful. The only problem I see with what you are trying to accomplish is that once you get a small portion of cleared to your liking then move everyone the last area will grow back up until you get back. With 20 acre of heavy woods it might be to large a task for your herd. Maybe settle with only getting 25% of it the way you want it and keep it that way for a while before you introduce more acreage to your herd.
    The whole reason I got my goats was for this task itself.. I saw real quick that they kinda pick here then graze there. It seems like nothing is getting accomplished for months. Then after a good long while it starts to take shape. My 4 goats took every bit of a year to clean up the grove. It finally looks nice. After they had been clearing for a while I bushhogged it so they could concentrate on the trees more then the bushes and that seemed to help a bunch.
    Good luck with your project

  4. Myakkagoater

    Myakkagoater New Member

    Apr 10, 2010
    Also as far a as fencing goes. I used electric at first. I ran 4 different strands and made all of them hot. It didn't work very good at all. If it gets real dry out they don't seem to get shocked and they run right through it. What I ended up doing is adding another wire and alternating hot wire ground wire. That works real good. My goats respect that fence now. Hot on bottom then ground then hot then ground then hot. I keep mine tight wwith the spring ratchets for high tensile. They work great and no sag. Befor I would put any up I would take the weedeater and clear a path all the way to the dirt for about 1' wide. This makes it easier to keep the fence from shorting out as much.

  5. imaginationacres

    imaginationacres New Member

    Sep 27, 2009
    thank you very much for the replies.

    Tom your fencing tips are very helpful! I definetely don't want to run into shorts so I'll make sure to clear about a foot around the fencing line. I guess I'll aim to do about an acre or so for the first round and see how that goes with the goaties taking things down.

    I also have a pot belly pig whose snout is quite the machine, I'm thinking about sending him through after the goats go through to help turn up the stumps and roots.
  6. StaceyRosado

    StaceyRosado Administrator Staff Member Supporting Member

    Oct 4, 2007
    Sounds like a great plan - the goat will love it and you will have reduced feed costs
  7. DPW

    DPW New Member

    Mar 13, 2010
    Crow, Oregon.
    Besides clearing brush your goats can also help with the reestablishment of native species of grasses. Depending on how dense the wooded area is you have the option of oversewing the area with seeds of native species of grass. Or any grass that will grow in your area for that matter.
    When the goats are two or three days away from finishing their job simply walk through the area and broadcast your seed of choice. The goats hooves will accomplish the seed to soil contact needed for good germination. Your goats will already have taken care of feritilizing the area.
    Just having goats ridding an area of noxious or invasive plant species can give native species a fighting chance. With your pig rooting around afterwards he may disturb the soil enough where native grass seeds that have layed dormant for years may get the chance to germinate and grow.
  8. toth boer goats

    toth boer goats Moderator Staff Member Supporting Member

    Jul 20, 2008
    Corning California
    I have to is good... all the way around..... :hi5: :greengrin:
  9. Native87

    Native87 New Member

    Your plan is pretty much exactly like I have been doing. I fence of a big area and let the goats do their thing. You will be amazed of the difference the make in an area. Last spring and summer I would cut a few trees a day down for
    the goats also to strip of the leaves and leave me some firewood. (No Poison Trees or Shrubs). I was clearing my land for more pasture and vegetable plots, gaining firewood, fencing my property, and fertilizing all at one time. When the goats were finished with the area I would clean up the brush (bonfires this winter) :) Gather the wood and then I let my hogs go through the area. So end result was spectacular. Well fed happy goats, very content hogs, and lots of great space for the upcoming growing season. Stick to your plan and before you know it you will have some brand new area to open to MORE goats!!! hehehehe

    ETA: Just because its winter does not mean the goats are finished. I have large areas of pine that they love to work in for greenery. I skip the deciduous trees for next spring/summer and then just repeat and repeat. I have heard that pine can act as a natural wormer. Keep It UP. You will be very proud of yourself and herd. :laugh: ~Terry :laugh:
  10. imaginationacres

    imaginationacres New Member

    Sep 27, 2009
    Thank you so much for all the wonderful input! I'm very excited to start this clearing project off. :) Terry I'm so glad that the goat/hog method has been succesful for your homestead, it makes me want to start right away. And DPW I will try the seeding method you recommend too, thank you. I wish there wasn't so much snow on the ground or I'd be out there scoping out where to fence!
  11. pawpower

    pawpower New Member

    Nov 22, 2015
    I have a full acre, and half of it was never cleared. How many and what kind of goats do I get for the job. TIA for the information!!!
  12. cybercat

    cybercat Owner of 4 La Manachas.

    Oct 17, 2007
    East Tn
    Pawpower, any breed will work. Large breed no more than 4. They will have it done in short time. Depending on what is growing.