Thinking of buying some goats

marooned(z9 Ca)June 8, 2006

In the next few months I will be moving from California to Oklahoma. My family owns 40 acres, and they are giving me 10 acres to transform into a small farm. But the land they are giving me is completely overgrown with bush and trees because no one has been using it for decades.

I've read that goats will clear the land for me, and even save me the horror of removing all the poison oak by hand. But never having owned goats before, I have a few questions:

1. How much do they cost on average?

2. Where can I find some to purchase?

3. How many will I need to clear 10 acres and how long will it take them?

I also read that after the goats do their thing I can use pigs to finish the job and fertilize the land. What's the average price for pigs?

Any advice would be much appreciated. Although I have plenty of experience gardening, I have absolutely no experience with farm animals.

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huisjen(z5 ME)

How long is a piece of string?

There are a lot of variables here that I can't answer, but I'll try anyway. Understand that I'm in Maine, and my answers are based on living here, not in Oklahoma.

Cost is going to depend on what you get. A championship milking doe or buck is going to cost much more than a grade wether. If you find the right animals, they're going to be free. I've actually had people call me up and offer me animals. This happens when there are family pets that are no longer interesting to the growing kids, or are too destructive (which is exactly what you want), or have simply outgrown their home. Once people know you have a good home for animals, they offer you unwanted pets. Around here, I wouldn't expect to pay a thing for a pet grade wether or an old doe that should be retired from breeding. I'd expect to pay $150 or $200 for a pedigreed young milking doe, and if I was that crazy, I could pay $500 or more for a championship buck. What I actually have is a grade doe from a good milking flock (Saanen-Oberhasli cross, product of a buck escape), bought for $75. (She just had her first kid, and I've been crowing about it and showing graphic birth pictures at the link below.) If you were to buy a meat animal, price would be based on going rate per pound in your area.

(If you're that new, you may not know that grade means cross-breed.)

The second answer is that you're biggest expense isn't going to be animals. It's going to be winter feed and fencing. In Oklahoma, winter feed is probably not going to be a big deal, as they'll pasture most of the year (assuming you have those 10 acres). Fences and goats... Oh the stories you're going to hear. Most of them are true too. Get good fences. I use Premier electronet fences, which I move around for rotational grazing, and a battery powered charger. I brace corners with extra posts.

Look for goats at your county fair, and by reading and putting up notes on feed store bulletin boards. Here in Maine we have Uncle Henry's (, which has an animal section. (I once saw the head of the Maine Organic Farmer's and Gardener's Association waive an Uncle Henry's and say that if you want to know what's really going on in Maine agriculture, read the ads in Uncle Henry's.) See if there's anything similar where you're headed. Otherwise, look in the want ads of your local paper. Check with local 4H people too, as there may be a few project animals around, looking for homes.

To clear ten acres? It depends on what the land is like and how many goats you get. If you let them go after all ten acres, unless you have an awful lot of them, it will take forever, literally. Pen them in a small area and let them destroy it, then move them to another area. A friend of mine keeps ten goats (buck, wether, three does, five kids) inside a single section of fence (~165'), moved daily. On a Maine grass pasture, they eat it down to where it's mostly gone but will regrow without too much trouble, in 24 hours. If it's trees or brush, it would take them longer. If it's less lush, they'll be done quicker.

I just got my first two pigs. Everything I've heard says they'll completely rid the one acre fallow half of my market garden of rhizome grass this summer. If you want stumps gone, take a big iron pry bar and drill a hole at the base of the stump, then pour cracked corn down the hole. Better than dynomite.


Here is a link that might be useful: Pop!

    Bookmark   June 8, 2006 at 6:45PM
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pablo_nh(z4/5 NH)

The pig and kid pics were way too cute

    Bookmark   June 8, 2006 at 10:48PM
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marooned(z9 Ca)

Posted by huisjen:
"Pen them in a small area and let them destroy it, then move them to another area."

That's exactly what my plan is. I'm just one man and 10 acres is too much for me to tackle all at once, especially without the help of expensive machinery. I'm going to let the goats clear out a small area, move them, and while they're busy clearing the next area I can begin working where they've already cleared.

My long-term goal is to be self-sufficient, or as close to it as I can manage. But in order to reach that goal I have to take it one step at a time. The first thing I want to establish is a garden for my own food. After that I will see about getting more animals and growing the feed for them.

Thanks for the response.

    Bookmark   June 9, 2006 at 1:25PM
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sharon_sd(SW ON)

If you just want the goats to clear brush, you may be able to borrow some goats from someone who would like to use your land. Check with the local ag rep, 4-H, large animal vet, feed store, etc. to find out who might have goats to lend.

Your fences will have to be good.

    Bookmark   June 10, 2006 at 7:37AM
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gurley157fs(zone 7/8sc)

I did exactly what you are talking about with 12 acres. Probably same situation. No extra cash but a lot that needed to be done.

Initially I had to put up 2x4 fence with a hot wire about knee high. That cost some money but it was supplies only - I did the labor.
Used landscape timber for fence post, dip the end in a mixture of roofing tar and diesel fuel before you put in the ground and they will last for years ( all the organics people are going to freak on that one).
Once you have that done 4-5 goats can handle the job nicely.
They will go in and clear out all of the underbrush and limb up all of the trees to the same height - makes for a pretty pasture.
Make sure that the goats have plenty of fresh water. Feed only a handful of balance goat feed during the summer every other day ( that is to keep them coming to you). In the winter they will need a little more for energy/warmth.
Also if you are going to do right by your little four legged laborers you should provide a little shed for them to get out of the rain with some straw and keep them wormed regularly.

Don't feed extra treats or make pets out of them or they WILL NOT stay in the pasture. They will get out just about anything to be near you. That is why I mentioned the hot wire above. Goats are escape artists. If you keep them just a tad bit wild and give them a fence to respect they will do your clean up job for you.
The hot wire fence does not make a noticable dent in the electric bill - I keep one running now to keep stray dogs away from my rabbits.
I would get only female goats or whethers (nuetered males). A buck around is just extra work and aggravation. Besides some of them smell from here to China. My best and sweetest buck ever was the worst smelling thing I have ever encountered.
I have probably rambled on long enough so good luck with your clean up.

    Bookmark   June 17, 2006 at 12:51AM
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Where in OK are you coming to? We live in Tahlequah (NE part) and have some Nubians. We also live on 10 acres, moved here last summer, and are big time into gardening. If you need to find goats and live near us we can put you in contact with all kinds of goat people.

It's been an experience to start gardening here without machinery. Someone loaned me a smallish rototiller and it can hardly move our soil. But we're seeing some good results. Can't wait for next year!


    Bookmark   August 2, 2006 at 1:39PM
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You may also find some sheep to borrow from herding enthusiasts. They tend to keep sheep just to practice on and probably wouldn't mind loaning them out - gives them all a new place to practice.

    Bookmark   August 10, 2006 at 12:14PM
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i dont know what kind of woods you have but down here in florida i had to clear a few acres of land i bought so i cut everything down with a chainsaw and let it sit for 6 months. then i came back and burned it all down. it took about 3 days or burning but i have clean land now, no roots or stumps even.

    Bookmark   February 7, 2007 at 9:41PM
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I was wondering if you got your goats and if everything worked out for you like expected. Do you have any advise? I am looking for a goat or 2 but I only have one acre. thanks!

Here is a link that might be useful: my place

    Bookmark   February 14, 2008 at 11:44PM
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Wow. What an amazing amount of destruction people do to make food. What you may consider doing is to take some time to really get to know the land. Spend a lot of time on it. Survey the pant and animal life already existing there. What purposes do the plants serve in the current ecosystem? Maybe there are already plants there that add nitrogen to the soil. Maybe there are some good native varieties that should remain. Maybe there are nurdery plants (that provide shelter, mulch, natural fertilizer, etc.) for plants you want to add. What stage in the natural cycle is your land in? Is if filling in a void created by destroying the natural system? If so, it is all "edge" and its needs some help growing a more mature system with some large trees, etc. Think, Think, Think about your land before doing something you may regret.

    Bookmark   February 16, 2008 at 12:31PM
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My 2 cents, as late as I am...

When starting out with goats, take care that your land is not full of plants that are poisonous to them. Cherry, especially, is a problem where I live and has to be cleared by humans first. My friend's buck recently got into some Belladonna that no one had noticed and died of it. Your extension office will have more local info on this...

Hope it's working out for you!

    Bookmark   February 18, 2008 at 4:59PM
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Florida Mid West Coast, what is the prefered breed of goat for land clearing

    Bookmark   August 15, 2010 at 7:18PM
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I got this from another posting on this forum.
RE: cheapest land per acre in the U.S.A.

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* Posted by argamonius (My Page) on
Thu, Sep 4, 08 at 14:12

In response to Farmfreedom, boargoats (meat goats) free range mostly with just enough grain so they come running when i ring the bell for feedtime, otherwise I'd have to use the dog. I'm still working out the details for venture capital into an expanded operation of freerange chevon(7-12mon old) and cabrito(3-6mon old) satelite farm.
Mexico border land may have poeple cutting through to get to the US or worse Mexico. Drugs, coyotes, immigrants, criminals, minutemen :P I presumme you want solidtude with little oversite, and loose permit building. In Fl they only check on permits for building in the county if a neighbors calls it in. Saw a site that offers pretty loose financing. I believe it falls in the reverse auction cat. which may be another option for you. You bid the downpayment for the land you want.
I haven't waded through my email yet, so i don't know your parameters for the min land requirements. Other then cheapest possible.

RE: cheapest land per acre in the U.S.A.

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* Posted by farmfreedom (My Page) on
Fri, Sep 5, 08 at 12:29

My requirements for land are pretty much "NO LIABILITES" and I want as much as I can get in acreage as possible for the money . Minimum size would be 10 acres . I have no problem with the U.S. LAND along the Mexican border . An Ibex can jump 40 feet in a single bound perhaps this will give the coyotes something to deal with maybe you should breed some in to your stock . I was glad to hear that there are no land taxes in Texas do they tax buildings? How about other property ?

RE: cheapest land per acre in the U.S.A.

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* Posted by argamonius (My Page) on
Fri, Sep 5, 08 at 18:11

well theres 10-20 acres in az and nm for about 1500.00 -2500.00. that cheap enough? I don't think you can raise animals there for lack of forage land, goats can survive on weeds and brush if needed. Haven't looked into Ibex, but i'm sure I wouldn't want my goats jumping 40ft lol. depending on your needs (crops,livestock,ect) you want to spend a bit more for passable forageland or grazing land and start some goats, which will fertilize the area pretty well, thier excrement is small round pellets and melt well enough in regular rainfalls, keep your numbers to about 3 to an acre so the children (ave of 2-3 per fem) will have edible forage. after about 4-5mon sell the kids and bank the money for better or larger lands, keep moving up until you reach your max (what you can handle solo) the billyland site has easy terms, just bid the downpayment, then pay the monthly until you sell the first round of kids, and then pay off the balance. then use the land to trade up after the second round of kids are sold. Its good enough for Abraham :P
Locate a sattelitte farming company and when you find your land ask them if they are willing to pick up animals, if your first round is small enough you could even go into town with them and sell them to an ethnic meats butcher/processor theres one in just about every big city in america, you'd be surprised to learn that about 25% of americans have ethnic dishes and/or religious feasts where the central component is a goat/kid (usually kids).
Use the 3 goats to an acre model, and continually sell the kids, males first keep females if you lose any or wish to increase a bit, but don't let them eat too much of the forage and grass, for a couple months you may need to feed them quality hay (winter) and grains with minerals. If they start showing signs of getting worms or diarea,(easy enough to spot since they sorta quarintine themselves) give them a dewormer and feed them dannon yogurt with the immunitas stuff in it. In a year or so you'll be unpgrading land and stock, so by an RV and a livestock trailer on the cheap. If theres no river/creek/well on the land, rent a back hoe and make a manmade lake/canal and some live catfish, go fishing for the rest. give the goats a tiny bit of feed when you ring a bell as they grow, then later when you load the goats onto a trailer just ring a bell and walk in with the feed and theyll follow. Of course all this only matters if your interested in goats. As an independant/hermit like person, they are ideal, and the meat is ultra lean. Some parts of 3-4mon yr old kids sell in the market for about 24.00/lb though if you raise them you'll only get about 100-130.oo live wieght per kid or 1.10/lb live wieght depending on who you sell to. During religous feast the right kind of kid can sell for 200.00 each, selling direct to the person.

chew on that :P
p.s Greek,Jamaican,Muslim,Jewish,Mexican,Asian,are just a few nationalities and ethnic groups with a need for kid meat, or big smelly bucks in the case of Jamaican and South Pacific groups.
p.s.s I got a 25,000.00 slot for venture capitalists if anyone is interested. Five year balloon payment is 50,000.
25k in 50k out, simple

    Bookmark   December 8, 2010 at 10:48AM
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