Posted 05-11-2004 at 04:15:26
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We've had goats for about 5-6 years now, originally got 2 to clean up some ravines that were too steep for me to bush-hog. For about the past 3 years we've had 12 goats and 2 sheep and let them "mow" about 8 acres or so. They do a great job, the goats eat "rough stuff" and the sheep clip the grass. The pasture had been let go by the previous owner for about a decade so it was really in bad shape, but now it is actually respectable and it didn't take them long to do it.
We've not had much problem with them trying to get out, but we also hand raised most of them and treat them like pets...on the rare occasion when one has slipped out of the fence, we'll find it at the gate by the barn worried he won't get back in for his little handful of evening snack. The sheep are actually more trouble for us, I suspect because they're not as smart.
My guys consider wild rose, honeysuckle, and poison ivy to be the world's 3 greatest delicacies. The place was infested with it all when we move in, but there's almost none to be found in their pasture nowadays.
We have a mix of electric fence (5 wire) and woven wire. If they have enough food and care they don't generally go anywhere. I guess my point there is "don't overstock" up to 18 or so should be good for your land if it grows about like mine. You may still want to mow once a year or so just to clip off something tall they don't like, but sometimes I do and sometimes I don't.
They *will* kill trees. I've had them bark some beautiful, good sized black cherries so you need to protect them if you have ones you want to keep.
"Grade" goats can go very cheap, around here you can get them for as low as $25. I've even got a registered goat that was given to me free just because the owner's husband didn't like it.
I'd recommend the book "Raising Goats the Modern Way." A great book that'll tell you everything you need to know.