Goats and Gardening Go Together
This is certainly a time of year when many of us are thinking about our vegetable gardens. Having raised goats since I was fifteen years of age, there’s one thing I’ve learned is that goats and gardens do not mix well. That is, of course unless your garden fencing is built like Fort Knox.
Don’t get me wrong, I love my goats and they are such an enjoyment to raise, but as goats go they always want to eat what’s on the other side of the fence no matter how entertaining it is on this side, sounds a lot like us doesn’t it? (The grass is always greener…).
Goats absolutely love to eat bushes, especially the fruit kind. In fact many people get goats just for that one thing, to clear out their land of briers and overgrowth. In the American state of California, for instance, goats are heavily coveted for keeping fire breaks clear during the wildfire season.
However, its not the fruit that grows on trees or bushes that I want to talk to you about. I’m talking of course about goat droppings. When it comes to manure management goats are some of the cleanest animals you can have around. Goat droppings are solid, round, dark pellets about the same size as blueberries (don't get them mixed up).
From a healthy goat they are clean, dry and almost odourless and they stay that way for a long time. That property is what makes them one of the best fertilisers for your garden. In fact goat droppings are unique from other forms of organic fertilisers in that there is no waiting for the manure to decompose before it can be used.
This manure contains adequate amounts of the nutrients that plants need for optimal growth, especially when the goats have bed in stalls. As urine collects in goat droppings, the manure retains more nitrogen, thus increasing its fertilising potency.
Most manures have to be dried and decomposed or the decomposition process will generate too much heat and kill the plants. Goat droppings, however, dissolve slowly over time and release the nutrients into the soil at a perfect rate. My father always called them nature’s “time-release capsules”. One of the best crops of tomatoes he ever grew was one where we mixed leaf mulch and a handful of goat droppings with each plant. There was no smell and tomatoes were busting out everywhere that whole summer.
So besides to the other benefits of owning goats; dairy, meat and fibre, now you have one more, some of the best, free fertiliser you can get anywhere.
Just make sure to close the gate behind you when you leave the garden or all those wonderful vegetables will quickly cycle their way right back into the goat again, if you know what I mean....
Happy gardening! ;-)