Frequently Asked Questions
Goats eat poison ivy, invasives and brush without creating a burden on the atmosphere, with reduced human hours and using fewer resources. Goat manure also fertilizes the ground as they eat. Because of how their digestive systems work, goat manure returns nutrients from undesirable plants back into the soil without spreading seeds. This prevents weeds from re-seeding and growing back.
Goats are also chemical free! If you have children, grandchildren, dogs, cats or just like to walk barefoot, why worry about exposing yourself and your family to toxic chemicals. A lot of the chemicals used in lawn care also end up in our ground water and eventually in our bodies.
Do you starve the goats so they will eat more at a job site?
We would never starve our goats in order to get them to eat more. While being inhumane, such practice would also be ineffective as starving our goats would lead to health problems. From our experience, sick goats don't eat. They lose their appetite which would be bad for business.
What do goats eat?
Goats eat weeds, brush, poison ivy and most of the flora of the isalnd. While your yard/property may have plenty to eat, goats are natural browsers and need variety in their diet. As such, we may also supplement with hay as needed. The goats also love treats such as organic banana peels, apples, pineapple and carrots.
Cherry Trees (when wilted), Rhododendron, Holly, Lily of the Valley and Mountain Laurel are poisonous to goats. We keep them away from these plants as much as possible and have noticed that while the goats may try a nibble, they tend to stay away from them as well.
Are the goats safe?
The Vineyard is unique in that natural predators of goats, such as coyotes and wolves, don't live here, so it is safe to leave the goats overnight with temporary shelters to protect them from the elements. Additionally, we check on our goats daily to make sure they have enough water and essential minerals. We do a head count to make sure they are all healthy, accounted for and in their pen. If a goat falls ill or is injured, we bring the goat home for care.
Why not just brushcut?
Use of gasoline/petroleum powered lawn care equipment (brushcutters, chainsaws, weedwhackers, lawn mowers, etc.) is responsible for 5% of total carbon dioxide emissions in the US. While 5% seems like a small percentage, every little bit can help.
Why not just bulldoze?
Bulldozers are invasive to habitat. Goats eat weeds and brush without disturbing the habitat. The island is known for having a unique population of native birds and bulldozers, while fast, wreak havoc on their living spaces, displacing chipmunks, squirrels, turtles, and other small animals as well.
What about machetes or tree pruners?
On Martha's Vineyard, the going rate for landscaping, based on an average hourly wage per worker, is about 3 times the expense of one of our goats per day or using a goat is about 1/3 the expense of hiring a human. While we may use a machete or pruners to occasionally clear a path for fence or for the goats to walk through, the same method would not be effective or efficient on a whole yard or property. Additionally, poison ivy on the island has had a reputation of sending people to the hospital. Goats are immune to the toxins in poison ivy, poison oak and other weeds found on the island. By using fewer human hours, exposure to such toxins is reduced.