Goat producer finds ‘pasture swaps’ are a hard sell

Sharing brush-encroached and spurge-infested cattle pastures with goats could be a win-win, but nobody’s taking the bait

The studies show running goats with cattle could create a “serious win-win,” but Saskatchewan goatherd Brian Payne is having trouble getting buy-in.

Payne, who runs 225 Savanna goats near Humboldt, has been running ads and making pitches at livestock meetings looking for cattle producers willing to enter into “pasture swaps.”

“I haven’t found anybody yet,” said Payne, who has 40 years of experience in the livestock industry, a trailer, and a willingness to live on site in his own camper.

Payne was part of a successful multi-species demonstration project on nearby Wolverine AESB community pasture that saw him herd 700 goats along with 1,350 cattle on 9,000 acres. The goats chowed down mainly on willows and weeds such as leafy spurge.

The project showed that goats are the better way to control invasive species, he said.

“People are starting to realize that we’ll never, ever control leafy spurge chemically,” said Payne.

“We’re not doing anybody any favours by heli-spraying Tordon on spurge.”

Steve Kenyon, a grazing innovator and speaker from Busby, Alta., has run about 10 goats with his cattle as an experiment in the past and liked what he saw.

That’s because 80 per cent of a goat’s preferred lunch is made up of “browse,” mainly brush, leaves and weeds — the exact opposite of his cattle’s grassy tastes.

“They mix really well together. Put them in at the same time and you’re not going to overgraze anything,” said Kenyon.

“I’d definitely look at it if my neighbour had a bunch of goats they wanted to graze on my land.”

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