How many goats do you bring and how long does it take?
This isn't a simple formula. We have to consider what kind of vegetation is on the land, how much is there, and how many goats a property can hold. Our current herd of 17 goats can eat
1/4-acre of vegetation in 4-7 days depending on the density of the vegetation. Eco-Goats will estimate how many goats and days you will need for your unique property at the time of our initial evaluation.
What if the goats eat something I want to keep?
Because goats eat a wide range of vegetation, we assess each job before we start to be sure we will meet your objectives. In some cases, areas with desirable vegetation or critical trees can be fenced out.
When are goats NOT a good choice for a property?
There is a wide range of situations when goats would not be the best choice for vegetation control. For example, when there is a large quantity of desirable vegetation that goats are known to eat mixed in with the vegetation you want to get rid of. Another example would be when the vegetation is toxic to the goats, such as Mountain Laurel, Rhododendron or Yew. In these situations, we offer selective hand-cutting by our two-legged crew, who know the difference between “good-green” and “bad-green”!
What happens to goat droppings?
It becomes fertilizer— which you want! Droppings provide nutrient rich organic matter that improves soil fertility, texture, water holding capacity and infiltration. Additionally, weed seeds typically cannot survive the digestive system of goats, so those goat droppings aren’t serving as fertilizer for more weeds!
Out go the weeds and invasives, in stay the desirable plants, up comes more native plants next season!
How do goats stack up to herbicides?
In many cases, herbicide is the fastest and cheapest means of killing a wide range of vegetation. It can also be helpful to spot-reduce certain weeds when the bulk of the vegetation is desired. However, real dangers have emerged as a result of the blanket use of herbicides. Dangers include buildup of persistent toxins in the soil, contamination of surface and ground water, immunity and plant mutation (creating the "super weed"), and harmful effects on desirable vegetation, domesticated and wild animals, and humans. Beyond this, they do not always work, causing a waste of time, energy and money to the landowner. Goats are also a broad-spectrum solution to problem vegetation, but they enhance the environment instead of harm it. They are often a superior choice in hard to reach or environmentally sensitive areas and over time can restore vegetation to its healthy native state.
How soon will it grow back?
Vegetation control is always a process and cannot be viewed as a single project. Repeated applications are required no matter what form of control you use--herbicide, machines, or goats. Residual seed, banked in the soil, will return to grow again. However, goats often create a long-term net gain in restoring healthy soils and native vegetation. With proper timing, they reduce the amount of seed released into the soil and surrounding areas, which helps deplete the seed bank and control spreading. The number of applications and amount of time for this depends on the vegetation species, the time of year the property is grazed, and the overall health of the soil (weeds and invasives are often the strongest competitors on depleted soils).
Are goats safe in my neighborhood?
We carefully assess the needs of each site to maximize both the protection and enjoyment of the goats as they graze. Our portable electric net fencing is a very effective tool in containing the goats. Clear informational signs instruct neighbors about what is going on, the joys of grazing goats, and at the same time provide clear warnings not to touch the fence or goats. Thus, goats can be as safe in your neighborhood as your household pets are.
What areas do you work in?
We service properties in Central and Southern Maryland, Northern Virginia and Delaware.
What time of year do I want the goats to come?
The best time of year depends on the vegetation you want to be rid of. There are ideal times for different mixes of vegetation and we will assess the most effective timing for grazing your unique property when we come to visit.
Has there been research on using goats?
Yes, there has been extensive research on using goats for invasive and other unwanted vegetation. See our Press and Links page for more information.
What kind of consulting do you offer?
At Eco-Goats, we know goats! And, with Brian Knox being a Licensed Professional Forester, we also know vegetation. Putting the two together, Brian consults with individual land owners and civic groups who are out of our area of service. He can help you decide if goats are right for you, including sharing what goats can and can't do, on what kind of goats work best and in what environment, and how many goats you might want to consider for your job. He consults on fencing, identifying and evaluating your vegetation, and how to understand what to look for on your site. Hire his wealth of knowledge for a few hours, a few days, or on an ongoing basis.
Write Brian Knox at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 814-233-0305 for more information.