Foresters with horns

The use of goats in woodland management

by Michael Smith (Veshengro)

Goats, as well as cattle, can be and have been and are being successfully used in woodland and forest management to keep bracken and brambles at bay and to also create a more open forest.

For the removal of bracken and brambles, roots and all, hogs are, however, much better than goats and the former root out and eat the roots and everything. Goats don't get down to the roots but do otherwise a great job in keeping the vegetation down.

Goats, as foresters with horns, do have a very important place, however, in the management of woodlands and forests, especially when it comes to the suppression of certain vegetation when one does not, necessarily, want the floor plowed.

As goats will eat almost anything – well, they actually do eat anything, including plastic bags – care needs to be taken as to plants that could be harmful to them and those that you don't want them to eat must be protected from them.

In coppice operations that means that natural regeneration has to be protected from them as otherwise the goats will eat this regrowth and thus nullify the regeneration. And the same also goes for any other areas in woods where natural regeneration is desired, and where young trees have been planted. Fencing off such areas with temporary fencing such as chestnut paling is the best, non-permanent solution here, and it is one that has been used for years and years to keep sheep and goats out from such areas.

Goats can provide such a valuable work and service in managing woodlands and countryside that they should be brought back into use in the same way as should hogs, as should horses for logging.

The best part of the four-legged brush cutters (goats) and the four-legged earth tillers (hogs) is that they are, basically, quiet and use no fossil fuels.

Bringing such four-legged friends back into service will also become a necessity in the future when oil is going to end up becoming more and more expensive and, in the end, more or less, unaffordable and even non-existent.

It is then especially when, aside from the scythe and the billhook in human hands, the four-legged brush cutters and earth tillers and log movers will come into their own once again.

However, even before that time of expensive to unaffordable oil products arrives changing from gasoline power to animal power and to human power again in the management of our woods is highly recommendable as it reduces cost and thus leaves more money as income and, most importantly, reduces the impact on the environment.

© 2013