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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Not sure what the best category is for this question, but will try here:

We've had pygora and pygmy goats for 5 years in an area where we have a bunch of mature trees, including a number of large cedars. The goats have occasionally stripped bark and killed some of the smaller trees, even though we tried to wrap them with chicken wire (which seemed useless as the goats would just pull it off or push it down the trunk). Our alpine wether - our otherwise terrific pack-goat-in-training - is TERRIBLE with bark-stripping and has now started in on the cedars. I'm really worried that we'll have to get rid of him because it's it a choice between our mature trees and a goat, we'll have to go with the trees. I give my goats mineral - doesn't seem to make a difference. They have plenty of grass. Perhaps they're bored - perhaps they like chewing on bark - but with my Alpine in the lead, the pygmies are now starting to strip more.

Two questions:

1) How can we discouraging them from stripping these BIG trees? (there are probably a dozen large cedars in their part of the yard) I've tried spraying animal repellant where they are stripping, but it only slows them down temporarily. It's not really feasible to wrap every trunk in screen or wire - just too much volume to the tree trunks.

2) Is there anything we can put on the stripped areas to help heal the area and perhaps discourage the goats from gnawing on that spot further?

This problem is really bothering me as I love my goats and don't want to have to give them up. And my sweet pack-goat is the worst offender...
 

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I was able to keep them off a cherry tree with chicken wire, but used multiple layers. I kept them off my apple trees when they were in that part of the yard with a hose and sprayer. Sitting around watching goats and blasting them with a hose when they came near the tree can be fun if you have the time for it ;-)

I have thought of mounting a motion detector to a rain bird to automate the aiming and firing of a blast of water.
 

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The bark is half of the circulatory system. It's not the vertical damage that's important, but rather percentage of circumstance. More than 50% marginal. All the way around...dead.
 

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It is my humble opinion that goats will be goats. Protect the trees soon or you will loose them. It is not going to work to put goats in an area where they have access to trees and expect them not to strip them. They will strip bark from trees and kill them. I have a 5 ft fence around my trees held up with 9 post surrounding each tree. Some posts are wood some are metal T bar. At 6ft there is an electric wire. There is a jumper wire under ground running from tree to tree. The fence is 4 feet from the trunk of tree. This work well. My goats are 200lbs apiece and exert a lot of pressure if they team up together. Put up a good fence and keep them off it is my strategy.
Picture is a little confusing because there is fence behind the tree.
 

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I don't know if it would help or make the problem worse, but what if you were to give them thick tree branches or logs to "chew on." We throw some in for our guys because they love to strip the bark off. Our Togg will sit around all day chewing the bark on a log or stick. This obviously would be a temporary fix to distract them from the trees until you come up with a more permanent fix.
 

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I have no idea if hot pepper works for goats, but it works great for horses and might be worth a try. I was boarding my horses at a place with wooden fences and it was starting to look like a beaver farm, so I took vegetable oil and a very large amount of cayenne pepper (I got one of those industrial-sized kegs cheap at Sam's) and painted it on all the surfaces that the horses were chewing. The wood consumption stopped overnight and didn't resume until the pepper eventually wore off, which was 3-6 months or longer depending on the weather. I did that for a few years and never had any more problems. I slapped it on with a large paint brush. It's a cheap way to protect wood, and I'd be interested to know if it works as well for goats as it does for horses. Just don't rub your eye while applying it!!! There was a barn I used to ride at that painted their fences with used motor oil and that also kept the horses away from it, but it stank and was very messy.
 

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Dave (TDG Farms) S.E. Washington State
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Nanno's cayenne pepper may work but I can tell you that relatively hot stuff doesnt even slow em down. Neither does perfumes or their own poo mashed up into a mixture of all the above and anything else I could think of to make em stop. We had arborvitaes at the old house and after fighting to save them, I lost the battle and had to cut out all the dead bushes. Nancy has the for sure fix for em but as you said, thats not something you are willing to do. For larger trees you can get some 5 foot chain link fence off say craigs list and wrap it around the tree. Attaching it with long fence staples directly to the tree. Would be about a dollor a foot plus the price of staples. They cant make the chain link sag.

Other then that, I know of anything in the world (other then say a bear chained to the tree) that will keep goats off a tree. Good luck.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Thanks for your posts - appreciate the suggestions and comments. The frustrating part is that they've left the cedars alone for 5 years - it's just this one new goat that started them in on the chewing and now I'm afraid that they've found a whole new past time. Fencing these things off would be incredibly difficult - probably a dozen of them with trunks twice as big as I could reach around... Will try the cayenne oil and see what happens. Fortunately, they're favoring just a couple of spots on a couple of trees so far. If I can break them right away, we might be okay.
 

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Yeah, goats are funny that way. For two years they ignore the wood slat fencing, then one day they decide to take out three sections just for fun.
 

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Despite major protests from our wethers, I'm following this thread with interest. Our boys are major bark eaters too. We give minerals but they love their bark. They have about 150 large trees in the pasture to choose from but, of course, it's the specimen cedars they go for. It's the Murphy's Law of goats, I suspect...the more prized the tree, the more delectable its bark...
 

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Well I am thinking of taking some 8 foot long boards. And strapping them around the trees with plumbers tape.
Sort of like fencing the tree. But the fence would hug the tree for stability. And then I was thinking that for the
mid sized tree. There is 4,6,8 inch drain/sewer pipe. Maybe I can rip it and open it up to slip around the trunk of the tree.
At this time. I just am leaving the lower limbs on. so they can chew the limbs and not the trunk. My hubby is a tree
hugger. LOL
 

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Sound like good ideas. Just remember when/if you remove to do it like you would avoid a sunburn. Taking it off mid summer all at once will most likely cause sun scald to the bark of deciduous trees. Big vertical crack and eventual loss of the tree.
 

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I have had mixed success in keeping the goats off of trees in their area. Wrapping with chicken wire does work. However, you need pay attention and ensure it is well secure. The goats worked diligently to get the chicken wire off the trees. Probably a nice game for them just trying. Some eventually learned they could put their weight on it and peel it down from the tree, pulling stables right out. In another case, they just started chewing on the exposed roots. Doubling up the chicken wire helped considerably. With the doubled trees, after a weekend of trying to get it down, they gave up and don't even bother trying.

I think a combination of techniques might work well ... like putting up the wire and then painting with the oil/cayenne pepper. Perhaps that will speed up the learning process while still having the wire for when the oil eventually wears off.
 

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Goats have the most diverse diet of any creature on earth. And tree bark is on their "Lets Eat It List". Certain types of trees are higher on their list. Fruit trees are at the top of their tree barking list. Cedars are not far behind. Goats are the ultimate eating machines and you will "Never" teach them to not eat something on their "Lets Eat It List". So it becomes a management issue, you must separate the goats living space from anything you don't want eaten. They do not bark all trees. Some full grown tree species have bark that is course enough that the goats have to work to hard to get to the more tender stuff underneath and will leave them alone. Almost all small trees are fair game to them. If they can reach a big enough percentage of the leafy vegetation of any tree, the tree will not survive even if they don't bark it. Bark is not very high up on their priority list so generally most of the barking is done in the fall and winter months when the more favorable forage has been eaten or died out.
Alpines are at the top of the intelligence scale, so they will very likely be one of the first ones to go to the bark. To get rid of your Alpine for this reason would be throwing the baby out with the bath water. Goats "ARE" one of the most intelligent creatures on our planet and are not easily outsmarted. Larger trees can be wrapped with chain link. Any height of chain link will work. Start at the ground wrapping it around and around overlapping it as you go higher and higher, until your 7 or 8 feet off the ground. You do not need to drive nails in the tree (this could damage the tree and is not needed), just wire the top of the chain link securely to the wrap under it. Small trees will need to be protected with a fence around the tree. Do not put the fence to close to the tree, as the tree grows bigger, the branches will hang over the fence and will be eaten. The fence should be a minimum of 5 ft and 6 would be even better. Use woven wire or chain link, not welded wire. The goats will climb on the fence and welded wire will break and come apart in time. Spraying trees with pepper spray will not work, you will just be seasoning the bark for them and they will probably like it even more.
You must realize you will never be able to alter their eating habits so you must alter their living space so you can live in peace with them and love them for the wonderful creature they are. Happy Trails, Dwite
 
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