Goats: A Green Alternative to Pesticides

goats in treesPhoto: Robbie’s Photo Art

What is the first thing you think of when you hear the word “goats”? Is it Pakistan? Maybe you think of some impoverished farmer on a hill or do you reminisce about stench and Third World countries?

Chances are that you don’t envision the stately meadows or overgrown landscapes of the wealthy and affluent. You probably aren’t thinking about Christmas trees, pesticides or the environment. If this is the case, then the media has taught you well about stereotypes.

goatsPhoto: thruhike98

If one has ever been a cattle producer, a land owner, a farmer or something similar, chances are they have run across some pretty noxious weeds. Cattle won’t eat them because they can cause rashes and poisoning, depending on the weed. Humans can face the same plight. No crop can survive the plague of weeds. The law requires land owners to clean up their land from brush, weeds and other such plants because they can be an environmental hazard, bringing unwanted pests into the area, and can make it nearly impossible for fire fighters to extinguish brush fires.

So, the poor land owner commits a ghastly environmental offence, what he has been taught since being a boy, and douses his land with pesticides. Generally speaking, the poison of choice will be Tordon, costing about $100 an acre, which really adds up. Chances are that the land will be completely obliterated of everything living, be of no practical use and the weeds will stand in all of their glory, mocking the poor land owner.

goats in treesPhoto: marco arcangeli

Pesticides only kill the symptom, not the problem. The weeds will always survive or come back thicker and heartier. The landowner will almost always have a two-fold problem. In this poor economy, this is especially problematic and makes many land owners go belly up.

But, there is one fool-proof source of getting rid of unsightly and problematic weeds. It’s not a pesticide, it’s the bottomless belly of a goat. Yes, they make the best lawnmowers and clear the land without any problems. They eat the flower and all of the reproductive parts of the weed plant, fooling the weed into thinking that all is well when it isn’t. With the goats only leaving the stalk portion, the weed is not encouraged to grow back thicker and heartier. Plus, goats are very cheap as well.

goat riding piggybackPhoto: Brandon O’Conner

Goats love anything they can get their mouths on, but grass is their least favorite. Here some more on problematic eyesores that goats will be glad to get rid of:

 

 

  • Dandelions
  • Canada thistle
  • Loco weed
  • Leafy spurge
  • Musk thistle
  • Poison hemlock
  • Knapweeds
  • Yucca

Goats will eat anything. One of their favorites, believe it or not, is Christmas trees. A city could make a nice profit for community and charitable organizations by charging citizens a couple of dollars to donate their unwanted Christmas tree to goats. Not only would this be environmentally sound, but the needy would benefit from this as well.

herd of goatsPhoto: malingering

Many people aren’t aware of how intelligent goats are. Bodies of water act as a natural boundary for goats as they will not walk through it. Electric fences are only necessary until they are conditioned to not leave a desired area. Goats are easily trainable. They are friendly and enjoy human company. As pack animals, they long for interaction with other animals and people – they would be miserable alone. Having goats around just to clean up the yard or large area of land makes for a temporary petting zoo for kids. Adults find them entertaining too!

One thing that’s important to know is that they need to be utilized on land that has not had wildflowers out in bloom yet – if you want the wildflowers to stay. Otherwise, they will eat everything in sight, even the poisonous plants. Goats have a special enzyme in their saliva that prevents them from having bad side effects from poisonous plants including death.

goats and childrenPhoto: eklektikos

Many goat owners erroneously believe that their goats couldn’t make enough of an impact to ward of fire dangers and the use of pesticides that damage our ecosystem. City officials don’t often know enough about goats and the positive influences they can make on the environment to want to use them.

People in general fear the destructive practices of goats. As one can see, they can climb anything. They will eat anything in sight. This is why it is important that good planning, supervision and confinement practices are employed.

goats and childrenPhoto: khalampre

The manure from the goats is excellent fertilizer. Even land that has been given up all hope on can be renewed with goats. The harvest created from such land is free from pesticides, making it safer for humans.

Goats are a win-win solution for everyone involved. This is why environmentalists who love their planet would seriously consider using goats to clear their land.

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