New goats, plum tree near pen

Discussion in 'Beginners Goat Raising' started by Pelle, Mar 23, 2013.

  1. Pelle

    Pelle New Member

    4
    Mar 23, 2013
    Hello all! We just got our first goats this week and are finding we have so many questions we never thought of before getting goats. We have a (hopefully pregnant) boer/nubian and pygmy/nigerian dwarf that we didn't know was a dwarf until she came! This forum has been very helpful, thanks to everyone for that. The internet can be very helpful, but there is so much conflicting information out there, that it becomes hard to really know what is fact. So, I have a question about my plum tree that I am hoping to get some advice on. We have a 30'x30' pen for the goats that we put right outside our backyard fence. At the time, I didn't know that plum trees can be poisonous. I found out this week that wilted leaves produce cyanide and I got a little concerned about the proximity to the tree. Yesterday was a very windy day and I noticed some plum leaves were getting blown off the tree right into the pen. You can see in the photo that the tree is only about 15-20 ft away from the pen. The canopy is well outside the pen, but the wind blows from that direction regularly. (The plum tee is the one on the right)

    So, what I want to know is, do you all think I should move the pen away from the tree? My only concern is that we are in Las Vegas and it gets very hot here. That big sumac tree that is over their pen is the only place for natural shade back there. If we move the pen, the only shade they will get will be from the shade structure and their house we are building. Neither will be natural shade and neither will be as cool as the tree they have nearby the grass and sprinklers.

    How dangerous are plum leaves, really? I thought we wouldn't have to worry about it until the fall, but the new growth seems to be blowing off pretty easily. I haven't actually seen either of the girls eating the leaves, but the little pygmy was trying to check one out that was just outside the pen, that's when I first noticed the leaves on the ground. We probably picked up a few dozen leaves from in and around the pen all day yesterday in total. Today, the wind has calmed down a bit, and I don't expect to find many, if any. I imagine new the new growth gets stronger, it won't drop much more until fall. The past two years, most of the leaves in the fall have been on the ground right under the tree, but if we get wind, I suppose they could make it into the pen.

    I guess the big question is.... Is the small amount of leaves they could potentially get, going to be a bigger risk than taking away their natural shade in 100-115 degree weather? I can plant more trees somewhere else for them, but it will be so long before they are big enough to provide adequate shade. Any advice would be appreciated.

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    IMG_20130323_095904_065 by gone ballistic, on Flickr
     
  2. Pelle

    Pelle New Member

    4
    Mar 23, 2013
    I found an article published by the USDA about chokecherry and other stone fruit. Here is the link: Chokecherry

    Quoted from the article:
    I did a little checking. A handful of plum leaves weighed in at about 0.2oz. I suppose our little pygmy weighs around 30lb. So, apparently 1.25oz, or 6 handfuls, of plum leaves could be very deadly. I don't think there would be enough leaves dropping into the pen for the pygmy to get 6 handfuls within an hour unless an entire branch miraculously broke and flew 15 feet into the pen. That doesn't mean that they wouldn't be able to get a few leaves here and there and not possibly have a slight toxicity from it, though. The same article also says:

    Since it says that towards autumn that the leaves are not as hazardous, I am not going to worry about dropped fall leaves. However, I initially thought the toxicity levels they were talking about were wilted leaves. Since the wilted leaves have even higher toxicity, I worry about maybe a handful of leaves being enough to make the pygmy sick. I really don't think she will get that many leaves, though.

    So, since there are no replies yet, my thoughts are that the tree is not a concern where it's at. I understand there are risks, but it seems that lots of people have goats and plum, cherry or other stone fruit trees and they have no problems. Unless anyone else chimes in here with more information, I think I will leave the girls where they are so they can have the natural shade from the big sumac tree.
     

  3. goathiker

    goathiker I'm watching you Staff Member Supporting Member

    The biggest danger from plums and cherries is indeed when a branch breaks and the animals eat the wilted leaves. I have a patch of runner berries under a cherry tree that I often let my boys graze in. They never have ever tried to eat anything off that tree or eaten enough leaves off the ground to make them sick. Usually well fed goats don't eat what they are not supposed to.
     
  4. Pelle

    Pelle New Member

    4
    Mar 23, 2013
    Ok, good to know. A friend told me that they usually won't eat stuff like that, but I also read that the wilted plum leaves are really sweet and irresistible to them. So, I was concerned that they would chomp down any that they see.

    We also have oleander on the property, and I am considering ripping it out and replacing it with something more goat friendly. Right now, we can't turn them out on the property because of the oleander. You think we should let them go and see what they do? Or should we rip out the oleander as planned before letting them browse. Since we are in the desert, we don't have a lot for them to eat out there. We are on an acre, but they only have a half acre where they can "roam". There is some sagebrush, lots of weeds and other native plants, but the oleander is the most prominent and green thing out there. I am concerned they will like it the best and have a poison buffet if I let them go.
     
  5. goathiker

    goathiker I'm watching you Staff Member Supporting Member

    Oleander is very poisonous. One leaf in a dish of water can kill a dog.
     
  6. Pelle

    Pelle New Member

    4
    Mar 23, 2013
    Yeah, that's why I want to rip it out. A friend said their goats never ate their oleander, but it only takes a taste to cause poisoning, so I don't want to risk it. Even you said, "well fed goats don't usually eat what their not supposed to". Which leads me to believe that implies they won't eat the oleander, but then the thing about the water bowl makes me feel like the oleander is too risky. Are you saying the plums are an acceptable risk and the oleander isn't and needs to be ripped out?

    And while we're on the subject, we have lantana in the yard too. It's not in the part of the property where the goats are, but it's very close. Same friend said they never heard of lantana being toxic, but I've seen that it is very deadly to livestock in Australia, where it grows natively. Thinking about replacing that in the backyard too. Any experience with that?
     
  7. goathiker

    goathiker I'm watching you Staff Member Supporting Member

    What I'm thinking is that baby goats often nibble this and that out of curiosity. The plum isn't going to poison a little one that is just nibbling, the oleander will. The plum leaves aren't poisonous forever. As soon as they are dry, they are pretty safe.
    The other tree I've never heard of, all I could do is look it up.