Battling the reeds with goats and ancient land drains. Any interest, experience or advice?

LKSF

Member
Mixed Farmer
This is a bit niche, so not sure anyone else here will have done this, but you never know :unsure:
We've recently taken on a 17acre smallholding on the Pennines. The fields have not been properly looked after for years so i'm working to improve the drainage and convert the land from the invasion of the Moorland Reed back to grass for sheep (as it was).
This invasion is 'a thing' and a big problem in many areas of The North:

So I hit on the idea of getting a couple of goats in to clear it, what do I know about goats? Only what i've read so far.
Apparently normal goats need tall fences and they often want to get out and wander around. My questions are:
Do Pygmy goats eat the same things that larger goats do?
If they stray do they go far and will they come back? We're pretty remote, so if they do get out they'll end up on the moors or in someone else's moorland field so no real harm would be done.
Much of the affected land is not bog so they'll be ok there.

I need to know how to keep them, so will do some Googling and get my books out after typing this out.
I'll post up about ancient field drains later when I have more time and more for interest rather than anything else.
 

BenF

Member
Livestock Farmer
This is a bit niche, so not sure anyone else here will have done this, but you never know :unsure:
We've recently taken on a 17acre smallholding on the Pennines. The fields have not been properly looked after for years so i'm working to improve the drainage and convert the land from the invasion of the Moorland Reed back to grass for sheep (as it was).
This invasion is 'a thing' and a big problem in many areas of The North:

So I hit on the idea of getting a couple of goats in to clear it, what do I know about goats? Only what i've read so far.
Apparently normal goats need tall fences and they often want to get out and wander around. My questions are:
Do Pygmy goats eat the same things that larger goats do?
If they stray do they go far and will they come back? We're pretty remote, so if they do get out they'll end up on the moors or in someone else's moorland field so no real harm would be done.
Much of the affected land is not bog so they'll be ok there.

I need to know how to keep them, so will do some Googling and get my books out after typing this out.
I'll post up about ancient field drains later when I have more time and more for interest rather than anything else.
Hi, we keep a couple of herds of boer X goats on nature reserve land (wetland and harsh scrub).

The area is stock fenced - nothing special, just standard stock fence topped with barbed wire - and they only escape if something makes a hole in it. The good(?) news is that goats need shelter from the elements, and will always put themselves to bed each night, so tend to return to 'home'. (We use painted IBC's with the bottoms cut out and strawed up, and pig arks.) If there is enough to eat and keep them occupied, they'll tend to stay where you want them to. Bucket training is also the best thing we have done - they'll follow you for miles with a bucket!!!

We have not kept Pygmys before, but have seen and heard they're little b*****ds! I'd encourage a bigger sized breed (not worrying about the fencing) - maybe even a native breed like a Bagot or Old English, as they could be better suited to the environment you're putting them in.

Either way - do it! You'll have loads of fun!
 

BenF

Member
Livestock Farmer
If you want to make a meaningful impression on Rushes, then sort the drainage out, then spray and Lime will do that job. A couple of hundred Pygmy goats might, I don't know, but I certainly know that a couple won't do much. Besides, Goats hate rain,( which is one of the reasons that you have so many Rushes), so you may wish to reconsider your plan?
Can't imagine a couple hundred pygymys! Sounds terrifying!! 😂

Our goats really don't mind the rain and will stay out as long as there is something to eat or climb on.
 

LKSF

Member
Mixed Farmer
It isn't the drainage which has caused all of the issue, it's more likely climate change. If rain means you can't keep goats then we're a bit buggered in the UK 😅
 
I remember seeing photos from a experimental farm showing a then and now field photo. The photo was covered in rushes, then in the later photo had none. Only management was grazing by goats. So sounds a good plan to me. I would add, I would want rotational grazing (electric fencing) and you will need far more than 2, more like 20! I know nothing about goats but I believe they are more susceptible to worms (and wormers are not as successful) so I guess rotational grazing would be good for worms as well as getting rid of the rushes.
 

jimred

Member
Livestock Farmer
Location
Pennines
High rainfall peaty patches particularly on west side of Pennines and it's constant battle to keep rushes away. Get excess water off, cutting initially and occasionally afterwards will speed process up Manure, lime and graze hard. Don't think the type of stock will make much difference. They will eat the young growth but not the mature unless they are near starving.
 

Nearly

Member
Location
North of York
Forget the goats, they'll just mark you out as an incomer. ;)
They are a great way to meet the neighbours though.

Topping, Drainage and Lime.

Can you find any drain outfalls and jet the drains?
Are they any obvious wet holes that would be worth a try first?

I used to be on the kind side of Huddersfield and don't regret moving away.
 

Wisconsonian

Member
Trade
Goats are picky eaters, they can select the better feed parts out of plants that cattle cannot. Goats are can control thistles, broadleaf weeds, brush. They love multiflora rose. They do not like mature stemmy grass, unless it's to eat the seeds off. I doubt the basic premise that goats will be any better than starving cattle or sheep for controlling rushes, and they will be starving goats if they have to eat rushes.

The rush puts lots of energy into making the vegetation unpalatable, grass puts very little energy into making it's vegetation unpalatable, that puts grass at an advantage IF you top them all frequently. So graze in sections, then top what's left.

Rotational grazing is not especially effective in controlling some worms, their life cycle is matched to the new flush of grass after a herd moves through, so they're just getting ready at the same time the grass is. Cutting the crop for hay or silage, or grazing a different species is more effective.
 

LKSF

Member
Mixed Farmer
Thanks for the replies, I can see that forming a fence over the worst effected areas for them to concentrate on sounds like a good plan, along with somewhere to sleep and get out of the rain.
Whilst there is no doubt poor drainage causes these things, they also grow well in other drier areas, we even had a big rash of them on top of a hill. Some of the drainage ditches are open, these things move in and choke them up. Much of the increase is due to it being warmer and wetter these days.

So drainage ditches.
Well we have a series of what are known as 'Soughs' running under the fields. If you can imagine a deep trench with a stone bottom, small dry stone wall up either side and a stone cap on top then that's all they are. As you can imagine they were laid a heck of a long time ago and are still working well today.

20211231_153943.jpg


20211231_153933.jpg



20211231_152947.jpg


Just an older and much more labour intensive version of the modern perforated pipe. So far i've only found one blockage and it was a modern pipe. It was too small (at 3") to take the water at max flow and had silted up inside. I unblocked it.

thumbnail (59).jpg



thumbnail (61).jpg


That had caused this:

20211231_155425.jpg


When I unblocked it it started to drain straight away:

thumbnail (60).jpg


But it'll get a bigger pipe now unless there is a blocked sough there I can repair.
That's the worst field, the others aren't anywhere near as bad. I'm going through it finding all the soughs, making sure they are flowing and then if needed i'll put some plastic land drain in the problem areas and connect it up to these existing soughs.
 

Kidds

Member
Horticulture
I don't think I have ever found a problem area that wasn't down to a blockage of the existing pipe. They have always been problem areas so someone had dealt with them in the past, all I had to do was find the fault and put it right.
Most fields you can just look at them and know where the drains are going to be. All very interesting and I am glad you showed yours. (y)
 
Goats next door to a place we have. You can't really see them, you know where they are by the tops of the reeds waving. Serious reeds. My side has sheep and lime and less reeds.
but that is because you are farming your ground, not the fact that they have goats. In my experience sheep do not keep rushes down and I have been led to believe (apart from Roundup or Nitrogen fertliser allowing the grass to outcompete the rushes) that appropriately stocked goats will eat the rushes. Plus obviously keeping any drainage schemes in good condition too.
 

MRT

Member
but that is because you are farming your ground, not the fact that they have goats. In my experience sheep do not keep rushes down and I have been led to believe (apart from Roundup or Nitrogen fertliser allowing the grass to outcompete the rushes) that appropriately stocked goats will eat the rushes. Plus obviously keeping any drainage schemes in good condition too.
Stocking rate is the thing in this case, they have an unknown number of pigmy goats, but not many, with ranch access to the whole site, plus no lime
 
Stocking rate is the thing in this case, they have an unknown number of pigmy goats, but not many, with ranch access to the whole site, plus no lime
after listening to Alan Savory, I realised that set stocking (and especially "ranch grazing") causes a mixture of both under and over grazing to the great detriment of the sward composition, control of the grazing density and time is the key.
 

steveR

Member
Mixed Farmer
If you want to make a meaningful impression on Rushes, then sort the drainage out, then spray and Lime will do that job. A couple of hundred Pygmy goats might, I don't know, but I certainly know that a couple won't do much. Besides, Goats hate rain,( which is one of the reasons that you have so many Rushes), so you may wish to reconsider your plan?
I would add a weed wiper to your attack profile, if available, for slowing the rushes down. Ideally after topping, then hit the regrowth.
 

Dry Rot

Member
Livestock Farmer
I know it is sacrilege to mention horses on here but they do like a bit of roughage. Just kicked a livery off because the horse was eating fence posts like bananas! Highland ponies have cleared all the rushes here. I hardly noticed but there were plenty rushes, none at all now.
 

Make Tax Digital Software Poll

  • Quickbooks

    Votes: 33 16.8%
  • Sage

    Votes: 20 10.2%
  • Xero

    Votes: 90 45.7%
  • Other

    Votes: 54 27.4%

Man fined £300 for bonfire-related waste offences

  • 153
  • 0
Written by William Kellett from Agriland

court-640x360.jpg
A man has pleaded guilty at Newtownards Magistrates’ Court to waste offences relating to a bonfire next to the electrical sub-station on the Circular Road in Newtownards, Co. Down.

Gareth Gill (51) of Abbot’s Walk, Newtownards pleaded guilty to two charges under the Waste and Contaminated Land (Northern Ireland) Order 1997, for which he was fined £150 each and ordered to pay a £15 offender’s levy

On June 25, 2018, PSNI officers went to Gill’s yard, where they found a large amount of waste consisting of scrap wood, pallets, carpet and underlay.

Discussion with Northern Ireland Environment Agency (NIEA) officers confirmed the site...
Top