What hot fescue looks like

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kenny thomas

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I bush hogged early this year in May. Hunted up a small area today that I had not cut. No sign of black spots. Does that mean mine may be clean or that the weather just has not been right for it to show up? I have had issues in the past is why I bush hog early.
 

Chris H

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We got goats last summer to eat weeds the cows left behind. Here is what we found:
Yes, goats go right for the fescue seed head and nibble the stems down to where the cows grab them with the leaves.
Yes, goats love the weeds left behind by cows in sacrifice paddocks, they cleaned out spiney pigweed last year in a lane used by the cows & goats. This year with alternate use by the goats and cattle, it is currently 6-12 inches of fescue, rye, clovers, and a bit of alfalfa.
Goats LOVE chickory.
Goats LOVE Osage Orange(hedge) trees. They'll stand on their back legs or jump and get the leaves, even climb branches.
Goats grazed a paddock where the alfalfa had mature seedheads last summer. The paddock now looks like an alfalfa hay field, although a bit patchy.


If you get a bull, make sure he is coming right off fescue.

Our current herdsire came from a region with no fescue. We bought him as a weanling and raised him on fescue mixed hay and stockpiled fescue. He got5-6 lbs grain/day. He's 3 this year and thick as can be. He's very fertile, we had 28 calves in the first 21 days of calving season.

Watch your mineral mix. We need to keep the copper levels high in our area. That seems to make a huge difference in our herd health. Goats need the same high copper levels. Sheep would die if they got into our mineral mix.

We had to cull 1 heifer last year due to sensitivity to the fescue. We put her on grain and once she started gaining she grew well and tasted fine. We used to have to cull more. I assume culling and the mineral mix has gotten the upper hand. We've always had a high % of legumes to cut the fescue, I think the minerals made a bigger difference.

Oh, we don't always have shade available, if we keep the flies under control they don't seem to be stressed. And, unlike cows, we can run the goats on the pond lot because goats hate getting their feet wet.
 

Red Bull Breeder

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Our old Rhino hog blows down. You can cut the stems off at the top of the grass. I try and hog as soon as it gets seed heads. Don't bother my cows much most of the time I don't worry about it.
 

Kell-inKY

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Chris H":2d6wsumu said:
We got goats last summer to eat weeds the cows left behind. Here is what we found:
Yes, goats go right for the fescue seed head and nibble the stems down to where the cows grab them with the leaves.
Yes, goats love the weeds left behind by cows in sacrifice paddocks, they cleaned out spiney pigweed last year in a lane used by the cows & goats. This year with alternate use by the goats and cattle, it is currently 6-12 inches of fescue, rye, clovers, and a bit of alfalfa.
I for one would love to hear more on this. I have put a lot of thought into this and am just waiting to upgrade my fence, been thinking about sheep vs. goats too.
 

Chris H

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Kell-inKY":qpu97285 said:
Chris H":qpu97285 said:
We got goats last summer to eat weeds the cows left behind. Here is what we found:
Yes, goats go right for the fescue seed head and nibble the stems down to where the cows grab them with the leaves.
Yes, goats love the weeds left behind by cows in sacrifice paddocks, they cleaned out spiney pigweed last year in a lane used by the cows & goats. This year with alternate use by the goats and cattle, it is currently 6-12 inches of fescue, rye, clovers, and a bit of alfalfa.
I for one would love to hear more on this. I have put a lot of thought into this and am just waiting to upgrade my fence, been thinking about sheep vs. goats too.

Sheep vs. goats
Goats need high copper like cows do, it will kill sheep.
Sheep are grazers, goats are browsers; sheep will compete with the forage preferred by cows, goats eat what the cows won't -- wild chicory, Canada thistle, honeysuckle, multiflora rose, brush etc., about 15% of the goats diet is grass and legumes, they'll eat overly mature sweet clover very well. Those silly goats love mature grasses.
Goats need to be watched for worms more closely than our cows, or maybe I'm still just working out a worming routine. I know that what I use for the cows will work for the goats and similar timing. Goats get their wormers orally, even ones that are injectable for cows. I've heard sheep need regular worming.
Fencing -- someday maybe I'll put woven wire around the whole farm and just turn the goats loose. And a woven wire around the house, barn, & garden to keep them out. And I'm only partially kidding. I've heard two descriptions of how to tell if your fence will hold goats. 1. if you can throw a bucket of water through it, or 2. if you can blow smoke through it; the goats can go through it too. That's pretty close for weaned kids.

But I really like the theory of increasing pounds of marketable meat from the same # of acres and controlling weeds at the same time I'm developing better grazing conditions for the cattle; all without chemical usage.
 

Lucky_P

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Chris,
I have it on good faith that the only fence that'll hold a goat is to pour two solid concrete walls 10 ft tall, 20 ft apart, fill the space between with water and stock it with sharks and piranhas.
 

Boot Jack Bulls

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Lucky_P":3kvla63k said:
Chris,
I have it on good faith that the only fence that'll hold a goat is to pour two solid concrete walls 10 ft tall, 20 ft apart, fill the space between with water and stock it with sharks and piranhas.

I hear this about goats all the time. This is a problem we just never really have. I think it helps that they are fat and lazy. Also, heavy bred does conserve their energy pretty judiciously, so finding a spot to escape it not the top of their to-do list. I also find that is helps to have some really good heelers on the place. They are anal about things/animal being where they belong and heaven help the goat dumb enough to adventure into the yard!
 

dun

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Boot Jack Bulls":9zxsxgq8 said:
Lucky_P":9zxsxgq8 said:
Chris,
I have it on good faith that the only fence that'll hold a goat is to pour two solid concrete walls 10 ft tall, 20 ft apart, fill the space between with water and stock it with sharks and piranhas.

I hear this about goats all the time. This is a problem we just never really have. I think it helps that they are fat and lazy. Also, heavy bred does conserve their energy pretty judiciously, so finding a spot to escape it not the top of their to-do list. I also find that is helps to have some really good heelers on the place. They are anal about things/animal being where they belong and heaven help the goat dumb enough to adventure into the yard!
Finally, a voice of reason. When we had the goat dairy we never had a problem. I've helped a number of people put up electric for goats and they've never had a problem. I think a lot of the idea about goats being hard to keep in has to do with peole expecting them to stay in a poorlu constructed /maintained fence that they use for cows. We have a couple of old sections of 3 strand barned that I gaurantee won;t hold goats, but it doesn;t hold calves either. Cows stay in but the youngsters come and go as they please.
 

Boot Jack Bulls

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True enough Dun! To be upfront though, due to the large number of bulls we stand, our fences are pretty solid. All of our pens/paddocks are 3 guard rails lined with cattle panel. The perimeter fence is 5 strand high tensil, most of the time hot. The goats honestly just never venture far enough out to bother the property lines. In our family, we believe that if stock (horses, goats, cattle, ect) are fed properly, they have little reason to pressure a fence, and if they still do, the pot is in the yard 7 days a week ready to load 'em out.

As far as the original topic, we don't have fescue issues up here, so Im no help there. The goats do help maintain pastures though and if you are trying to clear some scrub, they are the way to go. Most of the time, you can pick up some skinny, neglected crossbreds at the sale barn. Buy them cheap, worm them, turn them out and put them to work. When you are done with them, fatten them up with a 14% sweet feed for a week or two, the turn around and sell them for a profit. There are of course variables affecting success in this, but if for example someone buys a run-down farmstead, it would be a quick way to improve grazing conditions.

Also, goats need chelated copper. They do not absorb it as needed from most general mineral mixes.
 

Lucky_P

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Ok, folks, I was just trying to inject some levity.
Back in the day(30+ years ago), even with one of the old 'weed-burner' type electric fencers, my does would stay put... but the buck and kids pretty much went where they wanted. When I graduated and was leaving home, Dad told me, "Son, I love you, but when you go, the goats go." Guess he was pretty tired of goats eating his flowers and climbing on top of the cars.

BootJack... chelated minerals are primo for all species(and more expensive), but I assure you, goats CAN absorb other forms of copper - CuSO4 is virtually 100% absorbed and utilizable... Cu0, on the other hand... 0-15% bioavailable.
Other factors can, and do, affect copper absorption/utilization; molybdenum, iron, sulfur in particular. Currently working with a couple of herds that are dealing with Cu deficiency due to high soil/forage molybdenum levels on reclaimed mine ground. Mineral supplementation needs are LOCAL.

Goats were never intended to live and GRAZE in the hot humid Southeastern US. They are not just 'small cows'; they're browsers - once they have to start eating at ground level here, parasite issues(and death) are not far away. In WI, CO, etc., YMMV.
 

Boot Jack Bulls

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Lucky p, when we started with goats, we were told chelated copper is needed for them. We have since found it seems to greatly improve herd health and is worth the money.
 

Lucky_P

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Folks will tell you a lot of things.
No doubt in my mind that chelated minerals are a good thing - especially for stressed animals - particularly those coming in from a place where they fed NONE.
I've just not had the inclination to spend more $$$...
 

Kell-inKY

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Thanks for the info,

I have a lot of 4 board fence, wondering if they can squeeze through there, calves did not but they are a different story I'm sure. My perimeter fence is 4 strand HT with usually only 1 or 2 hot. I suppose I can add a couple of strands in between, and maybe a barbed wire on bottom close to ground? Mixing barbed and electric is frowned on though AFAIK. I'm only talking a half dozen goats here.

I also have a lot of woods, in every pasture, are they going to spend too much time in the woods even if I have decent pastures? I want them to be eating weeds in the pasture, not back where I could care less.
 

Lucky_P

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Kell,
Goats are browsers. Given the choice between brush/ leaves/ twigs, and fescue... they're gonna go for the brush. They may come out in the pastures and eat *some* weeds...
 

dun

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Lucky_P":v6e1fntf said:
Kell,
Goats are browsers. Given the choice between brush/ leaves/ twigs, and fescue... they're gonna go for the brush. They may come out in the pastures and eat *some* weeds...
And they'll strip the woods bare as far up as they can reach standing on their hind legs.
 

Kell-inKY

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well, I wouldn't mind them cleaning out the woods, especially all the honeysuckle, but that wouldn't help the weed problem I guess. If I can get my fence beefed up I will try it anyway. I have a LOT of brush, enough to keep them busy all year long. Maybe do some netting during weed season to confine them.

A neighbor down the road put some goats out in a heavily overgrown section and although you can see through there now, it's not exactly "clean" looking. They left a lot of small trees, maybe a half inch diameter just guessing. Probably asking a lot for them to completely eat those, but they did do a nice job on the vines and stuff. Things around here get out of control quick if left to return to nature.
 

TexasBred

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Lucky_P":1j3dgfer said:
Kell,
Goats are browsers. Given the choice between brush/ leaves/ twigs, and fescue... they're gonna go for the brush. They may come out in the pastures and eat *some* weeds...
Compare them more to deer than cattle....they browse from the top down, ground level being last resort.
 

Lucky_P

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http://www.wvu.edu/~agexten/pubnwsltr/TRIM/5420.htm

http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1 ... x/abstract
Much hill land pasture in the Appalachians is brush infested. Reclamation procedures which are low cost and require low input are needed to provide hill land pasture owners with ways to maintain production on these lands. A field experiment was carried out to evaluate the effectiveness of grazing either sheep (Ovis sp.) or goats (Capra sp.) separately or in combination for brush clearing on hill land pasture. Cutting or herbicide followed by grazing with sheep or goats were also compared. The experiment was conducted on a 1.8 ha powerline right of way for five years (1986 to 1990). Goats reduced brush cover from 45% to just over 15% in one year. Sheep took 3 years to bring about the same result. Cutting and herbicide application increased animal effectiveness, primarily that of sheep, but increased costs. Three year variable costs for brush clearing with goats were estimated at $33 ha-1, sheep cost was $262 ha-1, while cutting costs were $133 and herbicide $593 ha-1. Brush was cleared more cost effectively and rapidly by goats, but at the end of 5 years all treatments reduced brush cover to 2%.
 

Kell-inKY

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That's a great link Lucky P, I assume you can train goats to follow a bucket like cattle? Usually the cows tell me when it's time to move pastures, but not sure a goat will want to with so much woods. Sounds like sheep "could" accomplish the same thing given more time and be easier to keep in? I'm not saying they won't compete with the cattle, but this year I actually need more head eating the pasture because I have had to bush hog so much due to rain.

The article talks about defoliating multiflora roses, I have noticed my multitude of roses have been steadily shrinking and I hog these sections a lot in the summer due to so much of it being seen from the house. Blackberry has also been drastically reduced. They were way over my head (on the tractor!) when I first started clearing the pastures. I love articles like this, I get tired of reading the ones on spraying 2,4-d continuously for decades on end.......
 

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