I have 62 acres that have been neglected for a # of years. In addition to over-populated mesquite, there are large amounts of weeds in the pastures. I realize that improvement of the soil will decrease the weed population. But I assume that will take a few years and I don't have the resources to vastly improve soil fertility in 62 acres. I am thinking that it might be appropriate to use rotational grazing and rotate goats thru the pastures immediately after I remove the cows. Has anyone used this as a method to reduce weeds? Any advice/thoughts?
Joined: Sat Mar 06, 2004 7:33 am Posts: 764 Location: Plano & land at Dodd City,TEXAS
I know Tony M w/lots of goats will answer as well as dchall in San Antonio but just wanted to chime in w/our experience w/about 10 acres of 'pasture' type grasses. Had some areas that had big ugly weeds & w/mowing-not even very frequently b/c tractor keeps breaking-we have really pretty meadows now.
Joined: Sat Apr 12, 2003 12:45 am Posts: 420 Location: Whitesboro,TX
We bought 22 acres next to our first 22 acres. It is
so thick that you can not see through it. We can get
a tractor to most of it because of creek wondering
back and forth through most of it. We bought 27
goats. This is a work in progress, but they are
making an improvement and we can see a few more
feet into the dense underbrush. We love our mini
cows but the goats are special and entertaining.
Robert D Bard
Joined: Tue Mar 18, 2003 3:45 pm Posts: 2884 Location: San Antonio,TEXAS
Here's a historical note: the Spanish used goats to clear the fields when they arrived 500 years ago. Apparently they used the goats for a full year and then introduced cattle at a rate equal to the goat population to graze together. They did not have fences.
Here's what some folks are doing now. These folks are not as interested in getting rid of weeds as they are in growing great forage. From your standpoint the forage might be weeds, but here's what they do. First is get some animals roughly equal to the stocking rate the neighbors are using. So if the neighbors are stocking at 1 animal unit per 20 acres and you have 100 acres, then you get 5 animal units worth of animals. Turn them loose and start building fences. The idea with the fences is to plan and control exactly where the animals are at any point in time during the year. They build a minimum of 15 pastures (goal) of about equal size. Then they grab up all the animals and put them into the first paddock for about 2 weeks. At the end of the 2 weeks the ground should look much like the surface of the moon. Actually it should look like it was mowed, but not scalped. The animals will be anxious to move into the next pasture when you open the gate. Once you close the gate to pasture number 1, you will not let them back into that pasture until the grass is growing up great. If you go an average of 2 weeks per pasture, it will take 2 weeks per pasture x (15-1) pastures or 28 weeks before your animals return to the pasture. That's half a year to grow the grass back before they go in and eat it back down. If you are planning right, you might think ahead and scatter the next season grass seed in the pasture before you let the animals in there so they can plant the seed with their hooves and manure.
To carry my example through...if you had 100 acres, 5 animal units, and 15 pastures; then each pasture would be 100/15 = 7 (roughly) acres. So you will have 5 animal units on 7 acres for several days. That is very high density but when they leave, they're gone for half a year.
What this does is forces the animals to eat the grass, even some unpalatable grass. If they don't eat it down, the pasture will thin out and become undergrazed. Think about the bison for a minute. They moved in enormous herds that ate everything in sight as the MIGRATED from the south to the north in the summer and north to south later. It was a full 5 months to a year before they came back to graze again. Some grasses will grow back and some will not take that kind of grazing.
_________________ David Hall Moderator Dirt Doctor Lawns Forum
You might consider sheep for weed control. It has been my experience that sheep will slick off a pasture better than goats. They will eat almost anything except yellow stickers. However; if you are more concerned about the mesquite than the weeds, then goats would probably be the way to go.
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