Herbs

The Goat's Garden

Many people today are moving back to rural living, keeping goats, and interested in doing things the more natural way. They start asking; "What about herbal benefits in goatkeeping?"

The answer is "Yes!" Herbs and goats go together like sunshine and summertime. And it's not hard to do, most herbs are hardy plants that can be grown along a fence row, or snuck in among the flowerbeds, as at right. The mullien in the middle serves as an accent piece for this small bed, and provides healthful benefits in its large fuzzy leaves and small yellow flowers.

Ever wonder why goats love rose bushes? Well, that may be a smarter move than you think upon discovering your grandmother's bush has been drastically pruned. In fact, roses are also an herb. Although the part used by human herbalists is the rose-hip, (or fleshy seed pod.) The hips have been well known for centuries for multiple uses... notable among its properties is the very high vitamin C content. Maybe you should try it?

And on top of everything else, as browsers, goats are designed for high intakes of woody stems, twigs, bushes and barks. So nearly all shrubs are actually quite good for their systems.

There are a few plants, however, to steer clear of. Lillies of the Valley are among them. For better lists, see the Links page.

The three most often recommended "must have" healing herbs are Comfrey, Yarrow, and Calandula. These three are quite powerful for healing anything, and I've heard of one lady who keeps a bottle handy with handfulls of these three set in olive oil; which she uses as a first aid salve on any cuts, abrasions or lacerations any of her animals, (or humans!) get.

Tidbit: An old name for Comfrey is 'Boneknit', and it is very high in calcium. Little goats love to nibble on the young shoots. The matured leaves are stronger and can be a bit prickly.

 

There is a lot of information out there on all these plants, and it pays to do your research on these things. (Many times using herbs can prevent problems, but sometimes if things are really bad, a chemical solution is the best decision.)

We also grow Wormwood, which is a strong parasitic. At times our goats will go crazy over it, and it will taint the flavor of the milk, so we do limit consumption! It is great to give to pregnant does after they've dried off, it is also good for all female problems, including reproductive. And a good general tonic.

Any information on herbs in goatkeeping would be remiss if it failed to mention Raspberry Leaves. They are highly praised as absolutely The Best in helping out with any pregnancy or birthing problems of goatkeepers everywhere... and, I shouldn't wonder, are equally effective with other species.

They are easy to collect yourself, simply gather the leaves and dry for use in the winter months. Even a handful added on top of their grain is very effective, and the does love the taste so lick it right up. Unlike Wormwood, there are no unpleasant flavors to taint the milk, so milking does can be fed this in as much quantity as you can muster. An all-around miracle herb for those who have trouble with hard-kidding does.

It is easy to get your start in herbs, and once going, most herbs require little fussing over. They will however need protecting at the start, both from wild animals and your own! When first getting a foothold in their new spot, they are suseptible to being easily 'over grazed' by a few minute's nibble by deer, goats, or sheep. So keep them in the yard, or some other fenced in place.

Rabbits aren't usually much of a problem, as herbs are not usually succulent, and those little nibblers tend to go for sweet stuff.

This is only a scant overveiw of the first herbs to have. There are so many more, it would take a book! In fact there are many books out there, and we recommend gathering several and cross referencing between them. Each has something to offer, and each its own perspective. Also, be sure to talk to folks who use them, (both books and herbs,)... you can save a lot of time with that shortcut!

 

Your first herb bed can be worked in any place around the yard.