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Author Topic: Goats and gorse  (Read 477 times)

cambee

  • Joined Feb 2017
Goats and gorse
« on: February 15, 2017, 01:51:04 pm »
Hi we are new to the forum and to smallholding though we have had chickens and horses for some years. My rear field is about an acre in size but is very steep with poor grass and is used at the moment as a winter turnout for the horses during the short days. There is loads of gorse in this field and I was wondering whether goats would eat this? I hadn't really planned to have goats otherwise as we intend concentrating on sheep and a couple of weaners going forward but if they proved a solution to the gorse they might be a good investment. The field is securely fenced and I do have a spare stable that I could use to house goats if we decided to go down that route but can anyone answer the gorse question first? thanks

landroverroy

  • Joined Oct 2010
Re: Goats and gorse
« Reply #1 on: February 15, 2017, 09:38:08 pm »
Would have thought goats would go for the gorse as they are browsers.
But if the goats won't eat it then donkeys will. Our donkeys have slowly killed off the gorse bushes in one field. Once the bushes are dead they are easy to cut down without getting spiked. As your field is fenced and has a shelter it might be worth considering donkeys as an alternative.
life's too short to be boring.

Steph Hen

  • Joined Jul 2013
  • Angus Scotland.
Re: Goats and gorse
« Reply #2 on: February 16, 2017, 12:36:25 am »
I have just two goats, an Anglo Nubian and a British tog. They nibble on gorse but don't really eat it. They have had no impact on the bits that grow in their field. Whereas the willow is stripped of all leaves that they can reach. But others with more experience may be able to a broader answer, applicable to more than just two!

Dogwalker

  • Joined Nov 2011
Re: Goats and gorse
« Reply #3 on: February 16, 2017, 06:51:16 am »
Yes, the goats loved it. even the hard spikes.
I only had one gorse bush sticky out from the hedge. The goats have stripped it down and I cut back the thick stem.  Not sure if there's any regrowth this year, I'll have to walk up the hill to check.

clydesdaleclopper

  • Joined Aug 2009
  • Aberdeenshire
Re: Goats and gorse
« Reply #4 on: February 16, 2017, 01:39:27 pm »
My goats like the gorse - they particularly relish the flowers. Mind you when we had horses they ate it too. Gorse used to be used as winter feed for horses I believe.
Our holding has Anglo Nubian and British Toggenburg goats, Gotland sheep, Franconian Geese, Blue Swedish ducks, a whole load of mongrel hens and two semi-feral children.

penninehillbilly

  • Joined Sep 2011
  • West Yorks
Re: Goats and gorse
« Reply #5 on: February 16, 2017, 01:52:47 pm »
I think it was Edwardian Farm where they collected it, beat it to break/bruise? as winter fodder for horses.

Anke

  • Joined Dec 2009
  • St Boswells, Scottish Borders
Re: Goats and gorse
« Reply #6 on: February 16, 2017, 05:32:23 pm »
I really wouldn't think it wise to go and buy some goats unless really WANT goats, not because you need a cheap weed clearance method. Goats are demanding stock much more than sheep - twice a day feeding, shelter available at all times, hay even in summer etc etc. Your fencing also needs to be in tip-top condition, as if the grass/browsings look greener on the other side....

Having said that, goats are the ideal smallholder animal, especially if not much land is available - the provide milk & dairy, meat from the wethers, and are real characters!

cambee

  • Joined Feb 2017
Re: Goats and gorse
« Reply #7 on: February 17, 2017, 10:30:24 am »
Thanks for all the replies. It wasn't so much a 'cheap' method of getting rid of gorse. I don't actually want to get rid of all of it as it provides bird cover etc and it would actually be cheaper just to burn it. What I do want to do though is stop it spreading any further and completely taking over the grazing land. The field is very steep so machinery is impossible and even just heading up there with a brush cutter is no easy task! I do actually love goats but if I got some they would just end up being a pet, with all the expense, as I wouldn't eat them and I don't want to be tied to milking every day. So their only use would be as gorse eaters and lovable members of the family. Does anybody have experience as to whether they can go in with horses or would that be an absolute no no?

clydesdaleclopper

  • Joined Aug 2009
  • Aberdeenshire
Re: Goats and gorse
« Reply #8 on: February 17, 2017, 11:41:37 am »
If you don't want to milk why don't you get rare breed Bagot goats who would love all that gorse. @Scarlet.Dragon breeds them and also has horses so could advise
Our holding has Anglo Nubian and British Toggenburg goats, Gotland sheep, Franconian Geese, Blue Swedish ducks, a whole load of mongrel hens and two semi-feral children.

Anke

  • Joined Dec 2009
  • St Boswells, Scottish Borders
Re: Goats and gorse
« Reply #9 on: February 17, 2017, 12:20:01 pm »
If carefully introduced to each other I can't see a problem with horses and goats sharing, not sure horned goats would be that good though.... but goats (usually wethers) have been used in the past (and still are) as companion to horses, often highly strung race horses or where only one horse is being kept on its own.

However my smallholding  criterium is that every animal has to contribute to my holding - be that food (goats, sheep, pigs, poultry, geese) or rhodent control (cat). If the "employment contract" only states - grass/gorse control...

Even pet goats should be vaccinated, wormed/fluked if necessary, fed hay and probably some form concentrate (while they are still growing, probably just some Alpha or REadigrass) and need access to shelter at all times... you may as well milk/eat them and get some worthwhile return on your investment...

YorkshireLass

  • Joined Mar 2010
Re: Goats and gorse
« Reply #10 on: February 17, 2017, 04:35:09 pm »
What sort of sheep do you/will you have? Some of the native breeds browse.

Scarlet.Dragon

  • Joined May 2015
  • Aberdeenshire
Re: Goats and gorse
« Reply #11 on: February 17, 2017, 07:11:44 pm »
I have horned Bagots and elderly horses (TB and Exmoors).  The Exmoors and Bagots both eat gorse, the TB picks the flowering tips off very delicately but doesn't demolish it.

I segregate my goats/horses only because the TB is psychotic and I don't want her killing the Bagots.  One of my Exmoors was seriously ill last year and after he came home from 'horsepital' I didn't want her killing him either.  I put the Bagots in with him and they got on just fine.  He was careful not to tread on the little ones and they enjoyed playing with him... which despite his age and frail health he too seemed to enjoy.  The adults didn't bother with him much but there were no problems (he's not a bully/kicker; and I've never seen the goats use their horns in aggression, only when playing with one another).

You won't find many Bagot wethers around as we tend not to castrate in case we need the bloodlines back again (they're too rare to lose any at the moment).  However, if you'd be happy to have a few entire males around the place I can almost guarantee you'll fall in love with them and it may be possible for you to have some on loan rather than having to purchase to see how you get on (there is a 'Browsing Bagot' scheme where the Society is proving their worth in conservation grazing).  The idea is that males not currently used for stud work are loaned for conservation grazing and then brought back into the breeding programme later.  Predominantly so far it's been Councils and Bird Conservation areas that have used them, but I believe there may be scope to extend the programme.

If you'd be interested in any of this then let me know and I can help to put you in touch with the right people.  They truly are a joy to have around the place!
Excellence is the result of caring more than others think is wise, risking more than others think is safe, dreaming more than others think is practical and expecting more than others think is possible.

clydesdaleclopper

  • Joined Aug 2009
  • Aberdeenshire
Re: Goats and gorse
« Reply #12 on: February 17, 2017, 07:45:44 pm »
@Scarlet.Dragon you need to show photos of how gorgeous your mob are  ;D

Our holding has Anglo Nubian and British Toggenburg goats, Gotland sheep, Franconian Geese, Blue Swedish ducks, a whole load of mongrel hens and two semi-feral children.

Scarlet.Dragon

  • Joined May 2015
  • Aberdeenshire
Re: Goats and gorse
« Reply #13 on: February 17, 2017, 08:07:02 pm »
As requested... see attached.  The kids are about 4 months old in the pictures with the Exmoor. 

As Anke said, goats were traditionally kept as companions for horses.  Not just the highly strung; although it is very common for race horses to still travel with a goat.  The old farmers always kept a goat in the horse barn so that if there was a fire, they could grab the goat by the horns and lead it to safety, the horses would follow the goat.  Much easier to control something the size of a goat than a Clydesdale/Shire when in a smoky barn!

Hope this helps... oh, and life will never be the same once you have   :goat: :goat: :goat:!
« Last Edit: February 17, 2017, 08:33:57 pm by Scarlet.Dragon »
Excellence is the result of caring more than others think is wise, risking more than others think is safe, dreaming more than others think is practical and expecting more than others think is possible.

cambee

  • Joined Feb 2017
Re: Goats and gorse
« Reply #14 on: February 18, 2017, 09:41:00 am »
Thanks for those lovely photos which just confirm that I do love goats and even if they aren't going to pay their way might be tempted. The loaning scheme that you mentioned Scarlet sounds interesting. Could you please send me a link so that I can look into it? It may not be available around the Peak District. In actuality the goats would probably go into the 'gorse field' once the horses were out of it as the horses only stay in there until April. We are busy stock proof fencing it at the moment. As for sheep, we are currently considering Shetlands though I have also had an invite to view some Icelandic sheep locally. We weren't planning on putting them in the gorse field but if they would help keep it down?? As you can tell we are very much at the planning and preparing stage at the moment.

 

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