Biological Weed Control
Will Goats Control Your Weed Problem?
Contrary to popular opinion goats do not eat everything in sight. Some weeds such as Scotch Broom, Sweet Briar, Blackberries and Thistles are highly palatable to goats and will be selectively eaten. Due to their dietary preferences goats eat a variety of undesirable plants and shrubs that sheep and cattle avoid. Often the nutritive value of these species is quite high. Other weeds are highly toxic to goats, such as Gidgee and Deadly Nightshade, however these are also unpalatable and rarely eaten by goats.
To find out if goats will eat your weeds there are 2 excellent publications which may be useful for reference:
How Goats Control Weeds
Goats help control weeds by:
Research has shown that very few of the seeds ingested by goats remain viable, thus efficient control is achieved by goat grazing.
Eradication requires several years of efficient control and is seldom achieved (even after several years of goat grazing) if the goats are permanently removed. ie. A maintenence crew of goats is required after control is achieved, to graze any regrowth which may occur.
How Will Goats Save You Money?
Goats can usually be introduced to any but the cleanest pasture without reducing the stocking rates of existing livestock, thus goats can turn costs (weed control) into Dollars in the bank.
Goats have a pasture improvement effect on established pastures as they tend to graze the coarser grasses (and woody weeds), giving clovers and softer pasture species a competitive advantage.