Garden Goats: 6 Things to Know
Goats have some pretty good PR lately and the idea of renting them, or raising them, for yard care is getting really popular. Here are 6 things to know.
Goats aren’t as common in North America as they are in the rest of the world, where their meat, milk, and cheese are frequently coveted by other cultures.
Here, we’ve got a ways to go with goat love. Here are a few reasons to consider a couple goats in your yard if you’ve got the space, and let’s clear up a couple misconceptions, too!
They’re not a lawnmower
You’re not gonna get a manicured golf-style lawn by putting a few goats in your backyard, so you can give up the delusion that they’re “nature’s Roomba” approach to lawn-care right now. Goats eat what they want to eat, and it’s not going to be evenly-chewed so you can rave about your low-maintenance yard fashioned by “Billy and the Kids.”
They’re big fans of invasive species
Amazon made big news with their relatively new offering that simply capitalizes on services offered by indie providers already: Goat rental.
While they’re not the best lawn-mowers, goats really love to chow down on bushes, and the nastier the bush is, sometimes the better.
As Amazon explains,
“Goats can eat tons of stuff! They’re curious little creatures that like to at least taste almost anything resembling a plant. They actually love to munch away at many types of vegetation that we find invasive, ugly, or harmful to humans. Goats can eat thistle, blackberry, English Ivy, kudzu, poison ivy, poison sumac, poison oak, wisteria, various grasses, and more. Your pro will be able to let you know for sure if the type of vegetation you want to get rid of happens to be on the goat’s menu.”
Mm…. poisonous sumac. What’s not to love?
Which is the vernacular way of saying that if you have some goats clear out some blackberry brambles while you’re nursing some lemonade in your hammock, yer goat buddies will be pooping too, and better yet, they’ll be mashing that poop into your topsoil. You can’t get fresher manure, and it’s already manure suited for your land.
They’re land-clearers for real
According to this story, one goat-renting pro says his herd of 30 goats can clear a half-acre of dense brush in just 3 to 4 days. Is renting the goats is comparable in price to renting a backhoe and licensed operator?
Well, that’s a good question. It may not be a loud, smoke-spewing piece of heavy equipment, but 30 bleating goats aren’t exactly a quiet day in the country either. On the upside, they’ll be eating more than bleating. And they’ll poop and they’ll also naturally trample and aerate your grounds, which is hugely beneficial for new growth to come.
For regular brush control, this article suggests three to four “full-sized” goats per acre. That means seven or eight of the adorable teeny Pygmy goats I love to visit at the petting zoo, in case you’re wondering.
They “got milk”
If you’re a goat-owner and you’ve got milk-producing females, maybe you can get creative with it and make your fresh-churned unpasteurized goat butter. Bet you could find a Bullet-Proof Coffee drinker who’d pounce on that butter like it’s no thing.
They’re great in a curry
For those who freak out at killing an animal, let alone a “pet,” this is seems like a cruel joke, but the reality is that you’re talking about livestock and agriculture when you’re using a goat on your property.
In fact, the number-one meat used for cooking around the world isn’t beef or chicken, it’s goat. Why wouldn’t you want to eat meat you know was raised humanely, eating real food, and that lived a happy life? I have a couple friends who lived in the city and every spring would buy a couple goats and a pig to “free range” on their friend’s yard, and every fall they’d take them to slaughter and get butchered for their year’s meat needs. They said they were able to have ethical meat raised themselves and professionally butchered and packed for freezing for what would be under half the cost to buy the same.
This great article from the New York Times might help convince you: “How I Learned To Love Goat Meat.”
With goats, Mama Nature solves her own problems
The funny thing with mankind is that we’re always trying to solve problems our own way. Nature, though, has been taking care of business since the dawn of time and a lot of the problems that come up are because we’re screwing up the mix.
Instead of nature doing what it does best, we’ve got urban sprawl. We took the animals out of the equation and replaced with them with machines. As a result, we’ve got invasive species and other screwy things messing with our urban landscape.
For invasive plant species and aggressive bushes, goats are a great solution, whether you buy some for your ample yard or you simply call a goat-renting service for a temporary gig.
Could goats take a bite out of your landscaping problems? Maybe it’s time to investigate!