Benefits of Goatscaping

  • Reclaim land naturally

  • No toxic herbicides or other chemicals

  • Reduce invasive and nuisance plants including poison ivy, multiflora rose, and bittersweet.

  • No heavy machinery, and no carbon emmissions

  • Goats go places people won't and machinery can't: nimble goats don't mind uneven terrain, wetlands, steep hillsides, and jungles of thick vegetation 

  • Goat manure is odorless and leaves no viable seeds to germinate. Goat pellets are nitrogen-rich, organic, and improve the soil by adding essential nutrients

  • Goats' pointy hooves aerate the soil

  • Where goats have been, its harder for weeds to re-establish. It's not a permanent solution, but repeated sessions can lead to a dramatic reduction of invasive species 

  • Choose an eco-friendly, low impact, and ADORABLE way to clear your land.

  • Kids love goats - borrow ours and let them experience the joy of farm animals!

  • Goats can save you money compared to hiring manual labor and noisy machinery

Our Service Area

How it Works

Find out how our goats  can help you get your weeds under control. Eco-Friendly and just plain ADORABLE!

About our Goats

We love our goats, and we bet you will too. Learn more about our weed munching Lamanchas!

Cost

The same or less than the cost of brush clearing with machinery, and much more gentle on your land.

FAQs

We've heard every question, and if the answer's not here, just ask! We love to talk goat.

Schedule a Consultation
 

How It Works

You make an appointment with us for a consultation, and we'll come to evaluate your project site, determine how long we think the goats will need to work, check for poisonous plants that might need to be removed first, and look for anything that might make the land unsuitable for goatscaping. We'll have a quote ready for you 2-3 days later, and will agree on a start date. A couple days prior to that scheduled date we'll come by to clear a path for the electric fence, set it up, and connect it to a solar charger. We'll fence in about 1/8- 1/4 acre - the approximate area our team of goats can clear in about a week. If you have a larger area to clear, we can move the fence and rotate the goats through different areas. We'll visit every couple of days to check on the goats and move the fence, if needed. We just ask you to refill the goats' water trough if they run out, give them some grain with mineral supplements daily, and let us know  if you observe any issues when we're away. When the goats are done, we'll pack them up and move them to their next project!

About Our Goats

 

In 2014, our first four goats cleared 1/2 an acre along a river, revealing a waterfall that had been obscured from view by a decade's worth of knotweed and vine growth. We were SOLD on goatscaping. Now we raise Lamancha goats, which are a dairy breed. Most of the mature does (females) stay back at the farm making milk.  All our goats are disbudded when they are young, which means they don’t grow horns. Our goats receive regular health care including vaccinations, deworming, and hoof trimming.  They are raised with children, and extremely friendly and curious. They are mostly wethered (neutered) males or yearling females, meaning no stinky bucks (who can also be temperamental). Fun fact: Lamanchas have tiny ears, and they are born that way! In our opinion, nothing is cuter than an “earless” goat! Our goats work for us, but they are also our pets. Each one has a name and distinct personality, and during their stay with you, we're sure you'll enjoy getting to know them and their individual characters and quirks. You can find each goat’s “profile” on our website. In early summer, we add young goats to the teams after they are weaned and old enough to leave their mothers. The older goats teach them the ropes!

Cost

 

We’ll send a team of 6-10 goats, who will clear about a quarter of an acre in one week. Price depends partly on the difficulty of the terrain, how much (if any) toxic plants we need to remove by hand, how much time it will take to install a fence, and your distance  from Deerfield, MA. The cost typically ranges from $450-$750/week.  Larger projects will require longer stays or repeated visits, but we do offer a discount on reservations of three weeks or more.

You can reserve a date with a non-refundable deposit of $200. Please send us a quick note to let us know the details of your project and plan a site visit so we can give you a quote and get your project on our goats' calendar. Summer dates fill up quickly!

FAQs

 

Can we pet the goats?

Certainly! We just ask that you only pet them when we are present, as it means entering the electric fence. The shock is very low voltage and safe (but unpleasant) for humans, but if it is not reconnected properly, the goats will escape. The goats don’t bite, and we are happy to supervise visits. The goats always enjoy the extra attention. However, please don't feed the goats. Contrary to popular belief, goats don't eat everything; in fact, feeding them things that don't belong in their diet can make them very sick. 

Is there a minimum size for a project?

We don’t have a minimum size for a project, but we send our goats out in groups of 10 for a minimum of a week at a time. Since there is considerable time involved in setting up the perimeter fencing, we don’t do shorter projects. Our goats can generally clear 1/4 acre in a week, so if you have more than that amount of land, you should schedule additional weeks. If you have less than 1/4 acre to clear and the goats finish early, we can pick them up at anytime. . .but there will still be a 1-week minimum charge.

Will one visit be enough to take care of all the weeds?

The goats will eat the growth that’s there when they arrive, but the vegetation will eventually grow back. The good news is that the regrowth won’t be as dense, and they will make it easier to access previously overgrown areas. If you want our goats to come back, they’ll be happy to provide another round of clearing. If you have us back year after year, you’ll be able to both recover and maintain previously overgrown areas.

 

What if I have a dog or other animals?

Even though our goats go to various locations on their work assignments, we try to be very careful about biosecurity. If you have other ruminants (cows, sheep, or other goats), we probably won’t be able to send our herd over. It is easy for these species to transmit diseases to others, and while our goats are vaccinated, there are some diseases for which there are no vaccinations available. (e.g., CAE and Johnes ). If one of our animals becomes sick, we would have to remove them from the herd to keep the rest of our goats healthy. Our goats are accustomed to dogs (and their barking), horses, cats, pigs and chickens, and the electric fence should keep most animals out of the enclosed grazing area. If you have a dog who is aggressive toward other animals, please let us know. The electric fence will not keep out a dog who is determined to attack a goat.

What if the goats aren’t eating?

Just like humans need to take a break between meals, goats need time to digest as well (they are ruminants, who ruminate!) They will eat for a large portion of the day between dawn and dusk, but they often take a break in the middle of the day to process the food through their different stomach chambers. Part of their digestion involves regurgitating their “cud” for some extra chewing, so if they are lying down and chewing, this is what they are doing! Rest assured, they will get back to work soon. We don’t provide extra hay, so if they are hungry they will be eating brush on you property! Each goat will eat about 4% of its body weight in vegetation per day.

Does weather affect their work?

Goats are hardy, but they don’t love to get soaking wet, and will generally seek shelter in a heavy rain. Unless it rains for several days in a row, they will resume their work when there’s a break in the rain, because they’ll be getting hungry while they are taking shelter. We can reschedule your week if there are heavy storms in the forecast, but once the goats are on site, they will stay for the scheduled time.  We will provide a portable shelter to keep them comfortable.

What if I fall in love with your goats?

This question won't seem ridiculous at all once you've met our goats. I had to include it, by popular demand. First of all, don’t be afraid to admit it! We love our goats, and know exactly what you mean. If you have a suitable setup to house and care for goats year-round, we can help you establish your own mini-herd. We always have wethers available in late spring/early summer, so there’s a possibility you could keep a couple of your favorite grazers (goats don’t do well alone, so they always come as a pair). We can provide detailed advice about housing, diet and health care to help you get started, and are always available for any questions you might have as a new goat owner.

NEW IN 2020: PIGSCAPING! (We kid you not)

 

After the goats have cleared the brush, we can send in our team of nature’s rototillers. You’ll be amazed at how quickly a few pigs can turn up the soil. They’ll find the roots that the goats have left behind, and get rid of many weeds at the source. We raise Gloucestershire Old Spots, who are ideally suited to rooting in pasture and woods.

 

Our pigs particularly enjoy knotweed and poison ivy roots, and they can turn over a compost pile in no time (vegetable matter only, no animal waste or scraps). Our pigs are the gentlest breed, and are raised by our children. They enjoy belly and back scratches as well as treats. That said, it’s important to have a healthy respect for their size and strength, and we ask that you don’t pet them or enter their area unless we are supervising. They are trained to electric fencing, and will stay within the same electric netting used by the goats.

 

These are the big guns when it comes to weed control. Be ready for soon serious rooting action, and be sure there’s nothing you want to keep within the area that's not fenced off, because they will turn the dirt as effectively as heavy machinery! They are not as graceful as the goats, and view smaller areas as a scorched earth challenge. You won't have any weeds left, but no grass or anything else, for that matter.  They will leave a generous amount of fertilizer (surprisingly not too stinky), and an area ready for leveling and replanting with desired vegetation.

 

Our pigs seem to be aware of what might be harmful for them to eat, but we’ll survey the area to make sure there are no plants or roots that might be poisonous to them. If you have glass, nails, roofing materials, or other debris that could be harmful to them in your soil, it might not be a suitable project for the pigs. 

We tested proof of concept in 2019, and our team of pigs followed our sheep in the pasture, going low where the sheep went high, and then trampling in new grass seed before moving to the next areaThe result was two acres of reclaimed, rehabbed pasture, no tractor needed. 

If you have a difficult area and want to be a pigscaping pioneer, let us know! 

We'd love to hear from you!

  (farm visit by appointment only)

194 Lower Rd

Deerfield, MA 01342

413-774-7135

farm@riverbard.com

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