Natural "Lawn Mowers"?

by Vanessa

I have talked to you before regarding questions I've had and I appreciate the time you have taken to answer them.

Now I have a new question! We have about 1.75 acres that needs to be kept down either by a riding lawn mower (expensive and a gas guzzler) or by small livestock.

Would a couple or 3 goats be sufficient to replace the need for a mower on that size land? Do you know what breeds would be a wise choice for that? Maybe even for milking?

Thank you so much!

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Not Goats, But Cattle, Sheep
by: Sue Merriam

Despite what you might have heard, goats won't eat everything they see. Actually, they're pretty finicky when it comes to what they will eat. They likely got the reputation of eating everything (including cans) by the way they explore their environment. They nibble on things to see what they are. That doesn't mean they eat them, however. Goats aren't likely to even eat hay that has fallen on the ground, so they're not likely to mow the grass for you. They're great for clearing out brush, but not grass.

Two good grass "mowers" you might want to consider instead are sheep or cows.

Cows can be milked easily, of course, and will provide you with enough raw milk for butter and cheese as well. I highly recommend you start out with a couple of calves. If you get two heifers (females), you can work with them and tame them, so they become comfortable with you handling them. When they are 18 months old, you can breed them and get both meat and milk eventually.

Or, if you're not ready to start milking every day, get a couple of steers in the early spring. Let them graze on your grass and keep it mowed all summer. Then in the fall, you can have them butchered for the meat. You'll need to get a pair because cattle aren't happy living alone. They are more comfortable hanging together in a herd, so you will need at least two.

The springtime is a good time to purchase calves. They are often listed on Craig's List, or you can buy them at a local auction.

Or if you decide to get sheep, you can get some ewes and milk them.

It's tricky, but it can be done. There are even some dairies out there that sell cheese made from sheep's milk, which is similar to goat's milk. But sheep are far more difficult to handle than goats or cows, and I would think keeping sheep for milk is something that only those who have had long practice with sheep could master easily. However, you could buy a couple of lambs, allow them to graze on your land through the spring and summer, and then have them butchered for either lamb or mutton, depending on the age of the sheep when they are butchered.

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