If you want to use goats for brush control, how do you get into the business? The first step is to visit other producers, especially those that are using goats for weed and brush control to see if goats will control your type of vegetation. Find out information about their goat management practices. Work to learn all you can about goats from extension personnel, other producers, and the internet. A good source of information is the sections contained in this handbook. Make a farm plan and budget as described in the Farm Business Planning and Goat Farm Budgeting sections. You may need to secure financing and these documents will help you with loan applications.
Plan your production system and animal management practices. What type of enterprise (doe-kid operation, stocker operation or mature wether operation) will work best for you? How will predators and parasites be controlled? Establish a relationship with a veterinarian interested in goats and work with him to plan a herd health program. Plan a nutrition program including a yearly feed budget, mineral supplementation, and approximate feed costs. Conduct research on marketing in your area and develop a marketing plan. Time spent developing a good marketing plan can result in a greater return on investment. What kind of fencing will you use? These factors and many others need to be considered before the first goat is purchased.
After the aforementioned aspects have been considered, find out where to purchase suitable goats. Most goats sold at auction are culls. A better option than buying auction animals is to purchase from producers that have a reputation for quality animals and raise animals similar to those desired. Begin with a herd size that is easily manageable and comfortable for you; the herd will multiply over the years. Several large ranches have started out with small groups and as the owners feel more comfortable with their management of goats buy larger groups of goats. As the goats accomplish weed and brush control, numbers can be reduced appropriately.
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.