For well over 100 years, goats have been used to manage unwanted vegetation in the United States. The role of goats in vegetation management is expected to expand in the near future due to a combination of factors, including environmental degradation created by past systems of farming; reduced efforts to control unwanted vegetation that has increased its spread and growth; the increasing expense of mechanical methods of vegetation control, most of which rely on the use of fossil fuel-driven machinery; and the increasing reluctance and moral unacceptability of the use of herbicides due to pollution hazards and potential long-term harm to the environment.
Dramatic changes in the goat industry over the last two decades also have paved the way for increased use of goats for vegetation management. The Angora goat boom in the mid- and late 1980s moved goats from Texas into adjacent states. The dramatic influx of Boer goats in the early 1990s increased the number of states with significant numbers of goats and goat producers, especially in the South. Goat markets have become bigger and the price stronger in response to the demand for meat and other goat products from ethnic populations. During the last few years goat numbers have grown significantly for a myriad of reasons. Although goat numbers in most states are much less than cattle numbers, goats are becoming an accepted farm animal. As more people raise goats, the goat’s natural dietary preference for brush and weeds is more publicly visible and becoming more recognized for vegetation control.
Hart, S. 2006. Goats for Vegetation Management. In: Meat Goat Production Handbook, ed. T.A. Gipson, R.C. Merkel, K. Williams, and T. Sahlu, Langston University, ISBN 1-880667-04-5.