Raising goats and dealing with overgrown blackberry bushes on your property? You may be wondering if letting your goats graze on those prickly brambles is a good idea. Blackberry bushes can be hard to control, but are goats the solution you need?
If you’re short on time, here’s a quick answer to your question: Yes, goats can and do eat blackberry bushes. Goats will eat the leaves, stems, and berries of blackberry plants. Their hardy constitution allows them to navigate and nibble on thorny blackberry brambles.
Goats can be used to help control overgrown blackberry bushes.
In this comprehensive guide, we’ll take a closer look at goats’ appetite for blackberry bushes. We’ll cover whether they like the taste, if different types of goats eat them, what parts they consume, and how to use goats to clear out blackberry thickets on your land.
Goats Will Happily Eat Most Parts of Blackberry Bushes
When it comes to goats and blackberry bushes, you might be surprised to learn that goats are actually quite fond of these thorny plants. In fact, goats will happily munch on most parts of a blackberry bush, from the leaves and stems to the berries and even the thorns!
Leaves and Stems
Goats have a diverse palate and can consume a wide variety of plant material. Blackberry leaves and stems are no exception. These parts of the blackberry bush are rich in nutrients and provide goats with a tasty and nutritious snack.
Goats will eagerly strip the leaves and chew on the tender stems, relishing the flavors and textures they offer.
It’s important to note that while goats can safely eat blackberry leaves and stems, they should be given in moderation. Feeding goats large quantities of any plant, including blackberry leaves and stems, can lead to digestive issues.
It’s always best to consult with a veterinarian or goat nutritionist to ensure a balanced diet for your goats.
Berries and Thorns
Believe it or not, goats will even eat the berries that grow on blackberry bushes. While the thorny nature of the bushes may deter other animals, goats are not fazed by the prickly exterior. They will gladly nibble on the ripe blackberries, enjoying the sweet and juicy taste.
However, it’s essential to exercise caution when feeding goats blackberry berries. While goats can consume small amounts of ripe berries without any adverse effects, excessive consumption may cause digestive upset.
Additionally, it’s crucial to remove any thorns from the berries before offering them to your goats, as thorns can cause injury or discomfort if ingested.
Remember, goats should always have access to a balanced diet that includes a variety of forage, pasture, and appropriate supplements. While goats can enjoy blackberry bushes as a treat, it should not be their sole source of nutrition.
For more information on goat nutrition and feeding practices, check out extension.umn.edu/goats or farmprogress.com/livestock/feeding-goats. These websites provide valuable resources for goat owners looking to ensure the health and well-being of their animals.
Goat Breeds That Are Especially Fond of Blackberry Bushes
Pygmy goats are known for their playful and curious nature. They are a small breed, typically weighing between 40 to 60 pounds. These adorable goats are great companions and are also known for their love of browsing on various types of vegetation, including blackberry bushes.
Their small size and agile nature make them excellent climbers, allowing them to reach even the highest branches of a blackberry bush. Pygmy goats are sure to enjoy munching on the tasty leaves and berries that blackberry bushes have to offer.
Angora goats are famous for their luxurious and valuable fleece, but they also have a taste for blackberry bushes. These medium to large-sized goats have a strong browsing instinct and are known to enjoy a varied diet. They will happily graze on grass, leaves, and even thorny blackberry bushes.
The long, soft hair of Angora goats makes them well-suited for colder climates, but their love for blackberry bushes shows that they are not afraid to venture into thickets for a delicious meal.
Kiko goats, originally from New Zealand, are a hardy and robust breed known for their excellent foraging abilities. They were bred specifically for their ability to thrive in harsh environments and for their resistance to diseases.
Kiko goats are highly adaptable and can consume a wide range of vegetation, making them well-equipped to handle the thorny challenge of blackberry bushes. These goats have a strong appetite and will gladly devour the leaves and berries, helping to keep the blackberry bushes under control.
It’s important to note that while these goat breeds have a natural fondness for blackberry bushes, it’s essential to manage their grazing to prevent overconsumption or damage to the bushes. It’s always a good idea to provide a balanced diet for your goats and ensure they have access to fresh water and other essential nutrients.
If you’re considering adding goats to your property as a natural and sustainable way to control blackberry bushes, consult with a local veterinarian or an experienced goat farmer for guidance on the best practices for goat care and management.
Using Goats to Clear Overgrown Blackberry Bushes
Start Goats on Blackberries at a Young Age
When it comes to clearing overgrown blackberry bushes, goats can be an excellent natural solution. These hardy animals are known for their ability to digest a wide variety of plant material, including thorny and fibrous plants like blackberry bushes.
To effectively utilize goats for clearing blackberries, it is best to introduce them to the bushes at a young age. By doing so, the goats will become accustomed to the taste and texture of blackberry leaves and stems, making them more likely to graze on the bushes as they grow.
According to experienced goat farmers, it is important to gradually increase the amount of blackberry bushes in the goats’ diet. Starting with small amounts and gradually increasing the quantity will allow the goats’ digestive systems to adapt to the high-fiber content of the blackberry bushes.
This gradual approach will also help prevent digestive issues that can arise from a sudden change in diet.
Monitor for Overgrazing
While goats can be effective in clearing overgrown blackberry bushes, it is crucial to monitor their grazing habits to prevent overgrazing. Goats have a voracious appetite and can quickly consume large quantities of vegetation.
Overgrazing can leave the soil exposed and susceptible to erosion, as well as deplete the goats’ food source. To avoid this, it is recommended to rotate the goats to different areas periodically, allowing the vegetation to regenerate.
Additionally, providing the goats with supplemental feed, such as hay or grain, can help ensure they receive a balanced diet and do not solely rely on the blackberry bushes. This will prevent them from decimating the entire blackberry population and also contribute to their overall health and well-being.
Combine Goats with Other Control Methods
While goats can be effective in clearing overgrown blackberry bushes, combining them with other control methods can yield even better results. For instance, using mechanical means, such as mowing or cutting back the blackberry bushes, can help weaken the plants and make them more palatable to the goats.
This combination of mechanical and biological control can help break down the blackberry bushes more efficiently and prevent their regrowth.
Furthermore, using herbicides in conjunction with goat grazing can be an effective strategy, especially for larger areas or more stubborn blackberry infestations. However, it is important to follow proper application guidelines and ensure the herbicides used are safe for both goats and the environment.
It’s worth noting that while goats are a natural and eco-friendly solution for clearing overgrown blackberry bushes, their effectiveness may vary depending on the size and density of the infestation. In some cases, repeated grazing sessions may be necessary to completely eradicate the blackberry bushes.
For more information on using goats to clear overgrown blackberry bushes, you can visit the Purdue Extension website, where they provide detailed guidelines on managing blackberry infestations with goats.
Potential Downsides of Goats Eating Blackberry Bushes
Thorns Can Pose Risks
While goats are known for their ability to eat a wide variety of plants, including blackberry bushes, there are potential downsides to consider. One of the main concerns is the presence of thorns on blackberry bushes.
Goats may inadvertently injure themselves while trying to consume the leaves and berries. These thorns can cause cuts and scratches on the goats’ mouths, tongues, and digestive tracts. It’s important to monitor goats closely when they are grazing on blackberry bushes to ensure their safety and well-being.
Although goats can eat blackberry bushes, it’s important to be aware of potential toxicity concerns. While blackberries themselves are not toxic to goats, there may be other plants or substances present in the area that could be harmful.
Goats should be kept away from any areas where herbicides, pesticides, or other chemicals have been used to treat the blackberry bushes. Additionally, if the blackberry bushes have been contaminated with toxic substances, such as heavy metals or pollutants, it could be dangerous for goats to consume them.
Encouraging Invasive Spread
Another concern related to goats eating blackberry bushes is the potential for encouraging the spread of invasive plants. Blackberry bushes are known to be invasive species in many regions. While goats can help control the growth of these bushes by eating them, there is also a risk of spreading their seeds through their droppings.
This could lead to the further spread of blackberry bushes and the displacement of native plant species. It’s important to consider the potential impact on the local ecosystem before allowing goats to graze on blackberry bushes.
Frequently Asked Questions about Goats and Blackberries
Do goats prefer blackberry bushes over other plants?
Yes, goats are known to have a voracious appetite and will eat almost anything, including blackberry bushes. The thorny leaves and stems of blackberry bushes pose no problem for goats, as their rough tongues and strong jaws allow them to easily strip the leaves and chew on the stems.
However, it’s important to note that goats are not exclusively attracted to blackberry bushes and will happily graze on a variety of other plants as well.
Will goats completely eradicate blackberry thickets?
While goats can be effective in controlling the growth of blackberry thickets, it is unlikely that they will completely eradicate them. Goats are known to eat the leaves, stems, and even the roots of blackberry bushes, which can help to reduce their growth and spread.
However, blackberry bushes are resilient and can quickly regrow from any remaining roots or seeds. Therefore, regular and consistent grazing by goats may be necessary to keep the blackberry growth in check.
Should I remove thorns from blackberry canes for goats?
It is not necessary to remove the thorns from blackberry canes before allowing goats to graze on them. Goats have a unique ability to navigate through thorny vegetation without injuring themselves. Their lips and tongues are tough and can withstand the prickly thorns.
In fact, some goat owners believe that allowing goats to eat thorny plants, such as blackberries, can actually help to strengthen their immune system and improve their overall health. However, it’s always a good idea to monitor your goats while they are grazing and make sure they are not getting tangled or injured by the thorny canes.
Goats can be very effective at controlling problematic blackberry overgrowth. Their liking for all parts of the bushes makes them an ideal natural solution. However, some precautions should be taken to protect goat health and prevent overgrazing.
By unleashing your herd on invasive blackberry patches, you can put your goats’ voracious appetites to work on your land management problems. With some oversight and rotational grazing, goats can tame those out-of-control brambles and enjoy the bounty of blackberry leaves, stems and berries along the way.