originally Published on: Sep 7, 2018
If you’re a naturally minded, homesteader or farm-girl wanna be like me, then you’re probably here to learn more about something you already love- saving money and caring for your animals.
There are definitely ways to frugally feed your farm animals, and I want to share what I have learned, with you. I have been learning as I go since we got our first chickens in 2011, and I’ve never looked back! This will be a series of several posts about how/what to feed farm animals while saving money and keeping them in top-health, as naturally as possible!
If you have flowerbeds, there is nothing better to do with your weeds than feed them back to your animals!
Goats *love* weeds, as they are foragers, not grazers.
Goats eat some of the things cows do and most of the plants they don’t-trees, leaves, bark, roses, shrubs, poison ivy, and weeds to name a few of their favorites. Please be careful with shrubs and some weeds, as there are several plants toxic to goats that are commonly found in yards. Goats, when given a large variety, will often overlook toxic pants. But when given a wheel barrow full of treats, or when allowed to eat in a new area, they will likely eat anything they can get their mouths on.
About 6 weeks ago I weeded the back yard flowerbed, placing all the weeds in a wheelbarrow as I went. When I was done, I simply wheeled the weeds to the goat corral and let them go to town eating!
They loved the treat, climbing in the wheelbarrow, and oddly enough- left the grass I pulled! They devoured the weeds and pruned roses, but didn’t eat the lumps of grass. I should have known!
About once every 4-8weeks my husband will cut a dead or downed tree on the property and haul it into the goat paddock. The goats and the Dexters go crazy, climbing, eating leaves, and pulling off bark.
Another favorite is hedge apples that have fallen from the orange osage trees; I smash them (usually with a stomp of my boot) to make it easier for the goats to eat them. Did you know goats have oddly small mouth openings? It is very odd …
These are our favorite ways to supplement for our goats. We don’t typically give hand treats; the farm I bought my goats from made a great point- feeding treats outside of feed times can quickly turn your goats into rude, pushy, petting-zoo type goats. You know the ones where you can’t walk, move, or be near them without getting jumped on, pushed over, or head butted for food? Yea, those. We don’t want rude, pushy goats. We want sweet, docile, snuggle, “ooooh, someone looove on me,” goats.
We have given occasional watermelon rhines this summer, but not often (those usually go to the ducks and chickens).
Clearing Tree Lines
Our goats really enjoy clearing our tree lines, walking on a lead and clearing weeds around fences, the barn doors, the kids’ trampoline, the chicken coop … the list goes on! My husband set up some runners along our north tree line and the goats love going out there to eat weeds and clean it up for us. They get poison ivy to munch on, among other yummy weeds, and we get some free weed eating done!