Choosing the right type of goat for your homestead needs careful consideration, especially if you want to raise goats for milk or meat.
But what if you just want a few goats to clear some land, or to eat the weeds along your fence-lines and around your outbuildings?
Is one kind of goat best for eating weeds, or does the breed even matter?
All goats will eat most weeds, as long as they aren’t toxic. However, some goats are better suited for clearing low growing plants and weeds, while others are a better choice for tackling larger brush and scrub.
In this guide we’ll find out what kind of goat is best for eating weeds, brush, and invasive plants.
WARNING – GOATS AREN’T A GOOD CHOICE FOR EATING THE WEEDS IN YOUR GARDEN. THEY WILL EAT YOUR GARDEN PLANTS TOO.
Can Goats Eat All Weeds?
Goats will clear a lot of invasive and nuisance weeds for you, but they won’t eat everything.
Some weeds, plants, shrubs, and trees are toxic for goats.
If you’ve got a lot of hemlock or mountain laurel for example, then goats can’t clear your land.
And there are some weeds that they might not care to eat. Those are based on the preference of individual goats.
My Pygmy goats will sometimes eat stinging nettle, but not very often. If I cut the stinging nettle and leave it to dry into a nettle hay, then they eat the lot.
My goats also ignore dandelions.
For Weeds Growing Low To The Ground, Choose A Pygmy Goat
Any type of goat will eat weeds growing low to the ground. But if this is your main weed type, it makes sense to use a smaller breed.
Small breeds, like the stocky and robust Pygmy goat, and the slightly smaller Nigerian Dwarf goat, are easier to handle than larger breeds, and they need less food than meat and dairy breeds.
Ease of handling is a very important factor that you shouldn’t overlook.
Goats are strong animals, and they’re perfectly capable of hurting you.
I don’t want to give the impression that goats are mean and nasty, because they aren’t. But they can kick, push, and headbutt you. And the bigger the goat is, the more damage they can do.
Pygmy goats and Nigerian Dwarf goats are generally friendly and docile, so much so that they’re often kept as pets.
These goats are about the size of a medium-large dog, and they’re easy to deal with.
Food requirements are something to keep in mind too.
While you may have plenty of overgrown land for the goats to feed on right now, how long will that be the case?
If you need an acre clearing, 3 or 4 pygmy goats will have cleared most of your brush after a few months, but then they may not be able to get enough food from your land anymore.
With a smaller breed of goat that eats less, your ongoing food costs when overgrown vegetation is scarce, will be lower.
Large Breed Goats Are Better For Eating Tall Brush And Trees
While Pygmy and Nigerian Dwarf goats are ideal for clearing low growing brush and weeds, there is a limit to how high they can reach.
Goats stand up on their back legs, reaching as high as they possibly can to get a hold of the food they want to eat. Smaller goats, on their stubby little legs, can reach growth up to around 5 feet tall.
For any growth over that height, you’ll need to look at larger breeds like the Alpine goat and Kiko goat.
These goats can reach brush and vines up to 6 feet, and the Alpines will even climb up into trees.
Does It Matter If The Goats Are Male Or Female?
For lower growth areas, I don’t think the sex of the goats matters. But for the taller scrub and brush that the goats will need to stand up to reach, or climb into, males are a better choice.
Females that you use for breeding and milking could get their udders damaged on thorny brambles.
And when it comes to male goats, castrated males (wethers) are the best choice.
Once they’ve been ‘seen to,’ wethers are a lot more docile, and they won’t urinate everywhere like intact males.
Male goats are a little taller than females. but not by much, so it won’t really make a difference in that regard.
Do Goats Destroy Land?
That depends on what you mean by ‘destroy.’
Will goats destroy the vegetation on the land?
If it’s safe for goats to eat, they will eat it.
ALL of it.
Trees, shrubs, bushes, and hedges are all fair game for goats, and they will make a hearty feast of all of that lush, tasty growth.
Will goats destroy grass?
No, they don’t nibble down to ground level like sheep, so they won’t overgraze a pasture and ruin it.
Goats are primarily browsers. This means that they prefer to eat weeds, shrubs, trees, and brush.
They will graze on grass if it’s long enough, but they won’t overgraze.
A great way to utilize goats on your property, is to let them clear an area of all of the bushy growth, so that pasture grasses can recover.
While they’re clearing the land for you, their droppings add fertility to the soil which helps the pasture grasses to grow well.
Once the goats have done their work, you can put other livestock on to graze and have the goats run back through occasionally, to deal with any nuisance brush regrowth.
In most cases, as long as you manage the land-clearing operation properly, your goats will regenerate land rather than destroy it.
What Kind Of Goat Is Best For Eating weeds?
#1 Pygmy Goat – Small Breed
The Pygmy goat is a perfect choice for a small homestead.
They do well in warm weather as long as they have access to shade, and moderately cold weather isn’t a problem for them either.
These goats are friendly and easy to handle, but some individuals can be very strong-willed.
Will clear weeds and brush up to 5 feet.
#2 Spanish Goat – Medium Breed
The Spanish goat is a medium-sized breed, commonly crossed with other breeds.
Very hardy goats, well-suited for hot weather, but thrives in most climates.
Good parasite resistance.
Can clear brush and weeds 5 – 6 feet tall.
This breed is well-known for brush-clearing, and it’s also raised for meat.
One of the benefits of Spanish goats is their thriftiness; they’re able to convert food into meat very efficiently, so they’re considered a low-input goat.
#3 Alpine Goat – Large Breed
Alpine goats are a large breed able to reach overhead growth up to 6 feet.
They’re a dairy breed known for being very productive milkers as well as being efficient brush-clearing goats.
Generally well-disposed towards humans and other goats, the Alpine breed is friendly and inquisitive, with an independent streak.
#4 Boer Goat – Small Heavy Breed
Boer goats are a similar size to the Pygmy goat, but they’re a meat breed and therefore much heavier.
Mature males can weigh 330 pounds (150 Kilos).
Boers are good brush-clearing goats, and their meat can provide for the family, or give an additional income source.
Weed and brush-clearing up to 5 feet.
#5 Kiko Goat – Large Breed
Kiko goats are a large, hardy breed.
They thrive under a variety of conditions and even do well when food is scarce.
Good disease and parasite resistance.
Fairly resistant to hoof rot.
Kiko goats are a good choice for land-clearing, but they’re a very active goat and could be quite a handful to manage.
Able to clear brush up to 6 feet.
Any kind of goat will clear weeds around your homestead and bring overgrown pastures back to a usable state.
But the best kind of goat for eating weeds, really depends on the height of the growth you need the goats to tackle.
If you only want goats for land clearing and growth is 5 feet or less, Pygmy goats are a very good choice, but if you want your ‘weed wacker’ goats to clear taller growth and give you milk or meat, choose one of the other breeds mentioned.
Thanks for reading: What Kind Of Goat Is Best For Eating Weeds?