Portable Grazing System for Goats on Invasive Weeds and Brush
I visited with a satellite wireless fence company about my idea; they charge several thousands of dollars for a yard fence. Because my wireless fence was going to be moved over and over, they could not help me. But the representative I spoke with had experience training goats to a wireless fence, so that was helpful.
I acquired the wireless fencer with two training collars, the solar panel and generator. The solar panel took some special power cords that I had to special order.
I had a builder make the housing shed, large enough for four goats. A solar panel was purchased and attached to the roof. A solar generator was purchased to store energy and use as a backup. I bought two aged wether goats for the subjects of this project and an aged mini burro for protection.
After all the supplies and goats were purchased, training the goats began. The rainy spring weather hampered the training.
I thought tethering the goats together would make training easier. That did not work; when one of the goats passed the perimeter and got shocked, it would drag the other goat and away they went, and almost knocked me over with the tether. I then decided to tie one of the goats to the shed, and let the other one train. If it did go past the perimeter and received a shock, it would run back to the other goat, not to the house. This worked good, and that is how I trained each goat.
After sufficient time in training the goats were moved out into the waterway in our hayfield. There was sufficient growth of grass and weeds for them to thrive.
I need to dedicate more time to the training process in the starting location, instead of closer to the house. I think I will try nanny goats next year, to see if they catch on quicker.
A week of cloudy weather did not charge the generator and the goats ended up at my house. Since then I have purchased a timer, so that the fencer will only be powered during daylight hours. This will give the generator some recharging time.
The batteries on the collars are only good for three months. I did not know this, and the goats were at the house, trying to get in the patio door! I had to special order the batteries and it took several weeks for them to arrive. I now have extra batteries on hand, and I will have to pay closer attention to the calendar, so they are always charged.
I did not feel confident enough in the system or the goats, to move this very far from my house. Hopefully, next year we can get an earlier start in the pasture season and get the goats moved out to the pasture sooner in the year.
Another problem that I will have to address is the other livestock in the pasture rubbing on and messing around with the housing shelter.
Predators were not a problem; the goats were large enough to protect themselves as well as the burro in the pasture with the goats.
WORK PLAN FOR 2017
Since all of the equipment is in place, I will purchase more goats in late March, start training in April and early May, and get them moved out in mid-May to the pasture. To discourage the cattle or horses in the pasture from messing with the shelter, I may try to elevate it, or use a trailer to get it up and away from curious animals. The worst case scenario is using an electric fence to keep them away, but that would only add more stress on my solar system.
I write a weekly news column for my job. I wrote about the project two times. This is circulated to five newspapers in three counties and a regional farm paper. I also was on the program of a Livestock Producer Workshop sponsored by the Delaware Valley WRAPS, Jackson County Conservation District and the Meadowlark Extension District. I presented a power point program of the SARE project (virtual tour). There were 65 people in attendance. I also presented this program at our District Extension board meeting.
For 2017, I will provide updates on the project with my weekly news columns and another possible presentation to livestock producers.
Meadowlark Extension District
411 E 5th Street
Holton, Kansas 66436
Office Phone: 785-863-2212