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Goats/Thistle and blackberry vines

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Question
Hello, we just purchased a property in the country and it is overgrown with large amounts of dry Starthistle and very live blackberry bushes.  We have been thinking about either borrowing or renting goats to help get rid of some of the brush. But a friend told us that goats will not eat dry Starthistle.   They also said that goats will only eat the leaves off of the blackberry bushes and not the vines themselves. I just wanted to reach out to someone else who knew about goats to see if that was the case. Getting rid of the weeds manually is very difficult and it's goats would assist us we would love to try.   So my main questions are, will goats eat dry Starthistle? And will goats eat most if not all of the blackberry bushes?

Thank you in advance for the info,
Dawn

Answer
Hello - sorry for not getting back to you sooner, I was sure I answered the question but apparently note.  So, generally goats do eat starthistle but eat it more before the thorns appear, so the dry they would probably stay away from it unless they are starving.  When goats and other livestock eat dry starthistle, there is always the possibility they will get stuck with the thorns and cause abscesses.  Re the blackberry bushes, goats generally eat most all they can get off the bushes, including the more tender vines.  Hope this helps - Donna

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Donna Ruelas-Semasko/Edelweiss Acres

Expertise

All goat health care, nutrition, judging questions about all goats - packgoats, dairy goats, pygmy goats, meat goats, fleece goats.

Experience

27 years health care/nutrition of all types of goats, 17 years experience in packgoats, 20 years experience in 4H goat projects as leader, superintendent and judge. 20 years experience in putting on goat care/nutrition seminars.

Organizations
NAPgA, The Evergreen Packgoat Club, 4H, ADGA.

Publications
Hobby Farm, many newspapers, 4H newsletters, Packgoat Manuals (youth and general), judging information pamphlets, seminar handouts about health care and nutrition.

Education/Credentials
4 years of college, ongoing education in goats.

Awards and Honors
Small Farm Award of Thurston County

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