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What Are The Best Plants for Goat Farming?

What Are The Best Plants For Goat Farming-
When you start goat farming, there are several different ways you can manage your goats.  There are intensive methods, which require a lot of management from you as the farmer.  The plus side of intensive methods is that while they are more effort on your part, each goat requires less space.  You are generally the one who is bringing the food into the goats, providing lots of care, managing their exercise, and so on.  This is the most common way of raising goats, especially for dairy.  This was the method I started out with my goats.  As I learned more about goats I realized I preferred a more extensive method of goat farming.  

With an extensive method, your job is to mimic the goats natural environment as much as possible.  The goats are rotated through pasture, and instead of intensive management of health issues or kidding problems, your job as the goat farmer is to select the best stock who can kid efficiently and are disease and parasite resistant.  If I raise goats again, this is the method I will use.  This is also the method discussed in Holistic Goat Care by Gianaclis Caldwell.  I received a free review copy, and highly recommend it if you want more detail on goat farming with extensive management.

Extensive management requires more space than most people have access to, (especially in the city!), but you can utilize the space you do have better by planting trees and shrubs that goats prefer to eat and increase the amount of food you can grow for your herd.

Here’s a list of some of the best plants for goat farming to maximize efficiency:

Pasture Mix Plants:

  • Grasses
  • Clover
  • Vetch
  • Chicory
  • Plantain
  • Curly Dock
  • Pigweed
  • Horseweed
  • Lambs Quarter

Bushes:

  • Star Thistle
  • Blackberry
  • Juniper
  • Poison Oak
  • Kudzu
  • Rosemary
  • Peppermint
  • Grapevines
  • Bamboo
  • Comfrey
  • Catnip
  • Ivy
  • Knotweed
  • Raspberry
  • Roses

Garden Produce:

  • Mangel Beets
  • Turnips
  • Kale
  • Carrots
  • Radishes
  • Winter Squash
  • Bolted Lettuce
  • Insect damaged greens
  • Broccoli
  • Cabbage
  • Cantalope
  • Celery
  • Fava beans
  • Sunflowers

Trees:

  • Willows
  • Black Locust
  • Sweet Gum
  • Bay Tree
  • Cedar
  • Cottonwood
  • Fir
  • Dogwood
  • Elm
  • Ash
  • Mulberry
  • Oak leaves
  • Pine

For a more comprehensive list of plants that are edible and poisonous to goats, I recommend Fiasco Farms.  The list in this post tend to be easily grown, fast growing, or weedy plants that are prolific and that you can include in a smaller space to provide more food.  I planted bamboo and willow along the edge of our goat yard, and even on our tiny homestead they produced a good amount of supplemental food for our girls.

If you are thinking about goat farming, I recommend planting now so your goats have plenty of forage, and if you already have goats, hopefully you can add a bit more variety to their diet and save on some hay costs for you.  And if you are thinking about extensive goat farming, check out Holistic Goat Care!

 

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Tumnus Caprine

Monday 7th of June 2021

Surprised you mentioned curly doc as a pasture plant for goats. It is poisonous to most livestock including goats.

Kathryn

Monday 7th of June 2021

True, if they did eat a lot of it at once. Colorado State University says "Livestock poisoning from eating curly leaf dock is relatively rare. Cattle would need to eat considerable quantities of the plant to be affectes (10-20 lbs of green plant for an adult cow.)" https://csuvth.colostate.edu/poisonous_plants/Plants/Details/83

Karen Northorp

Friday 6th of November 2020

I am raising meat goats on 35 acres of mostly wooded land. There is lots of brush as the land had been logged long before we purchased it. During spring and summer there is lots of browse for them to chow down on. However, come fall and winter there is very little available to them and I have to supplement with hay. Can you recommend a browse that I can plant that will last a little longer into the fall at least. My goal is to have to supplement them as little as possible. Right now I only have 7 goats, but I hope to have that at least doubled by kidding season.

Kathryn

Friday 6th of November 2020

Perhaps some fast growing bamboo? Or other evergreen plants such as juniper or pine.

sandra tucker

Wednesday 24th of June 2020

i just want to know what i can plant that the goats will leave alone and if they did eat any, they wont get sick. any suggestions? thanks

Kathryn

Wednesday 24th of June 2020

Goats are pretty smart about avoiding things that will make them sick, especially if they have plenty of space. I like bamboo near goats because it grows quickly even if they eat it.

Annette Lowe

Saturday 14th of March 2020

What kind of grasses are you recommending? I have an area being cleared for utilities and will need replanted. It was wooded.

Natasha

Monday 12th of April 2021

@Kathryn, lawn grass is not the same as pasture grasses. Lawn grass has almost no nutritional value, while the right mix of pasture grass may be all they need (plus minerals of course).

Kathryn

Friday 20th of March 2020

Any lawn mix that does well in your landscape is good, such as rye, blue grass, fescue, etc.

GoatGuy

Thursday 23rd of January 2020

Kale is high in oxalic acid, in thoery not recommended for goats on the internet,but like most things probably ok now and then, but I wouldnt recommend releasing them onto a field of the stuff

Kathryn

Thursday 23rd of January 2020

Thanks for sharing!