If you have an area of scrub land you may have thought of buying goats to keep it down. We did exactly that and went to buy some goats from a local farmer. Although there are specialist breeds one can buy,  we just bought what you might call mutts of the goat world. These had no specific thought put to them but they were great at eating.

When we talked to our Brazilian worker about goats, he raised an eyebrow and waved his hand. He told us that goats like to run off. This answered a question I had had. Here in Brazil I have seen goats wearing something akin to a tennis racket press. For those of you who aren't old enough to remember what that is, they were used on wooden tennis rackets to keep them from warping. They are in essence a wooden frame. This is inserted over the goats head and closed making an awkward wooden necklace for the goat. However it prevents them from passing through  fencing.

By Belinda Hankins Miller from U.S.A. - The hard part, CC BY 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=3590474
A few words about goats, they will eat what you don't want them to. They are not grazers like sheep, they are browsers like deer and will pretty much sample everything and destroy something which is tasty. I had a tree eaten until it was almost leaf free by our two goats. 

With their soft hooves they can climb. Think of a mountain goat perched high atop a cliff. It wasn't airlifted up there you know. They're soft hooves are cloven and grippy and allow them to get to places you wouldn't have thought they could reach. 

In the end, we use to stake out our goats on a long cord attached to a dog collar. They seemed quite okay with this arrangement. Our nanny would be eating away in grass up to her belly until she saw my husband and she would begin to cry out for attention. 
By Dpsarma (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

Should you get goats? 

Goats hooves are soft and need to be trimmed regularly otherwise this can cause pain for the animal. We are on soft sand so they were never going to wear down. We used a knife and this was quite quick and painless for the animal. 

In an area which needs to be cleared of scrub, goats are amazing animals. They are even being used to clear areas to prevent forest and grassland fires This is called conservation grazing!

This means they have more value to you than just on your own farm. Let's examine the usefulness of them and how you could make money from introducing goats on your small farm or homestead. 

  • Ground clearance of scrub and weeds. 
  • Renting out your goats to clear other areas. 
  • Manure: this can be gathered from their shed or pen where they sleep and used on your farm or sold. 
  • Hair: Depending on which breed you have, you could sell the hair (mohair from Angora goats). 
  • Milk: Goats milk can be sold as it is, or made into cheese or other products such as yogurt or ice cream.   In most countries there will be documentation and licenses required if you plan to sell to the public. 
  • Breeding: Choose a breed which is sought after either for its robustness or as a  specialist breed.
  • Sell the goats or the meat.  


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