Pasture Goats 8-7-09

Pasture Goats 8-7-09

August 7, 2009

Lower Input Costs and Add Income

A person's perspective can make all the difference when it comes to weed control. As a grower, you may see a pasture with leafy spurge, yucca, cedar trees, or musk thistle and think, "added time, input costs, headaches, and the potential for noxious weed issues."

But a goat? It sees a smorgasbord of taste-tempting delights within easy access. It's all in one's perspective.

But What Would Your Neighbors Say?

The use of goats for weed control also depends on your perspective. I know many of you would never "lower" yourself to grazing goats, but maybe it's time to reevaluate this bias and figure out how to best use these grazinglands.

Seven years of drought in western Nebraska have weakened grass populations and led to an explosion in yucca, western ragweed, broom snakeweed, and all sorts of other plants cattle rarely eat. Eastern pastures have their own problems with cedars, thistles, buckbrush, and other weeds. Often spraying, digging, or bulldozing are too expensive and delaying treatment will only worsen the problem.

Consider this for a second. Most grazing operations have enough weeds to add one goat for every cow without needing to reduce cow numbers. Many could add five to ten goats. With goats, you save money on herbicides, reduce weeds, and provide space for your grasses to improve. Goats also could mean an added income source: Goat kids sell for $50-$100 during the fall and winter holiday season.

With a little change in perspective, you may find your own win-win solution for weed control in pastures.

Bruce Anderson
Extension Forage Specialist