The Goat Spot Forum banner

1 - 12 of 12 Posts

·
Registered
Joined
·
6 Posts
Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hello, all. I've never owned goats before, but I'm getting ready to jump in! My wife and I will be moving to a farm in northern Kentucky in June, and will be wanting to keep a few (3 or 4) goats, probably Nigerian dwarf. There's a suitable barn, with about 2 acres of pasture around it.

Here's the problem: the current landowners have kept horses on this pasture for years and years. Consequently, there's no grass to be found at all, and when the weather is wet, it's one big muddy mess. Ideally, I'd like to try and reclaim the pasture with native grasses that are both suitable for the goats to forage, and more attractive than mud.

So, what do I need to do? After we take over the property in June, I can have a soil test done, but I'd like to start planning now. Do you think I could just till up the ground, mix the horse manure in with the soil, then broadcast seed? Do I need to do something more intensive (and expensive)?

We're trying to start pretty small, but I know there will be lots of initial expenses when we move. Fencing, starting a garden, chicken enclosures, etc., etc. And, we don't own any real farm machinery, yet. So, we'd like to do something that breaks neither our bank, nor our backs.

Any advice on how to best address the situation? Soil prep, types of grass to grow, time frame, all comments are welcome. For reference, we'll likely spend a few months settling in before actually getting the does, so there will be some time between starting the pasture project and having it used.

Thanks a lot for helping out a newbie.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
6 Posts
Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Thanks, Karen. Any recommendations for what I should seed with? Should I just find a good goat forage mix? How long do you think it might take for the pasture to establish before it's usable?
 

·
Super Moderator
Joined
·
58,493 Posts
I just buy a horse pasture mix. If you could get that done now and give it a year, you should end up with a nice pasture. You could even add the native seed into that horse mixture so you have your native plants growing as well.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
6 Posts
Discussion Starter · #5 ·
I just buy a horse pasture mix. If you could get that done now and give it a year, you should end up with a nice pasture. You could even add the native seed into that horse mixture so you have your native plants growing as well.
So, if I were able to sow seed in June when we move, by next spring I should be able to expect some good results. That's not bad.

But, what if I don't want to wait a year before acquiring the goats? Do you think it would be a bad idea to keep them in the existing pasture while the grass is growing, and just feed them 100% with purchased feed? Or, is it bad to have goats whose only outside area has no growth?
 

·
Super Moderator
Joined
·
58,493 Posts
ND's shouldn't be too hard on the land. The big thing is getting everything established before it is destroyed by livestock. The absolute earliest I would put anything out there is late fall. You really want to give that pasture a chance so it isn't a constant battle to get it established.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
6 Posts
Discussion Starter · #7 ·
I reckon I could split the pasture in two, till and seed one half now while the goats use the other half, then switch up once the pasture's established.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
11,199 Posts
I'm a huge proponent of "sacrifice areas" (this is a horse term). I highly recommend creating a pen attached to the barn that allows the goats to exercise, but is not meant for grazing. Welded wire goat panels are the easiest thing to create this sacrifice pen, 16' long with 4"x4" holes. So you want this sacrifice area to not grow grass and not to be muddy. So you need to strip off the "organic" materials (manure and topsoil) and leave it as gravel or bring in some additional sandy gravel (not washed crushed stone with is $$$). You don't want goats grazing in the sacrifice area as it is likely loaded with parasite eggs from all their poop.

Now, if you get your sacrifice area all ready as soon as you move then you can goat goats whenever you find the right ones, while still working on the pastures. You will need to locate a good source of hay to purchase for your goats before you get them. Find a local farm with good mixed grass or grass/alfalfa hay, second cut if possible and get enough to feed the goats all year (feed them up in racks, not on the ground) while the pastures get ready.

Two acres of pasture is likely enough to support 8-12 Nigerians. But you will want separate housing & pasture for your bucks if you plan to breed, so consider splitting it.

Soil test is the best idea to see if the pH is good for native browse species. I bet that pasture begins sprouting weeds as soon as the horses are off of it but they may be invasive or inedible weeds that thrive on disturbed soils. Find out if there is a County Agricultural Extension Agency or an Agricultural University nearby that provides recommendations for farmers - they should have some literature on seed mixes for you. Usually timothy, orchard grass, clover, Lucerne, lespidiza, etc. I hate to recommend tilling as it kills the soil structure and microbiology, but I think in this case that is the best idea due to the damage from the horses.

While you have the goats essentially "dry-lotted" on hay in their sacrifice areas and get the pasture fenced and prepped, if you choose to plant any shade trees that is a good time! You'll want at least a 6'x6' square of fencing around them to keep the goats away while they grow - the welded wire panels work awesome for that as well.

Exciting adventure for you - good luck!
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
6 Posts
Discussion Starter · #9 ·
Thanks, Katey.

I like the idea of a sacrifice area. How big do you think it should be for just 3 or 4 goats? (We're really only in it for personal milk consumption and maybe a little bit of soap. And, it's just my wife and I, so I doubt that keeping more than that would be necessary.) We've done a little bit of scouting for hay and straw already, and there seem to be numerous sources. The current homeowner is moving into a parcel next to ours, so they should know some good sources, too.

We're thinking that, at least in the first few years, we'll outsource our breeding and not keep any bucks. Maybe down the road we'll consider keeping one or two, but from what I understand it can be more hassle than it's worth in the beginning.

We're also thinking about keeping a couple of pigs at some point. So, it might be nice to split the pasture up so that the goats and pigs can have separate areas.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
247 Posts
just 2 cents for after its all said and done. For areas that thin, I use electric netting fence and throw seed down before letting the goats in. Their hooves press the seed into the ground, so better germination, and it gets fertilized too. I do this to areas that need reseeding, moving the netting every few days. I wouldn't seed an entire pasture this way - but to keep up with small areas now and then.
 
1 - 12 of 12 Posts
Top