Biotope management with goats and sheep
The usage of goats for biotope management has been increased in the last 20 years. As part of a sheep herd or even as a pur goat herd they can help to prevent shrub invasion.
Many agri-cultural landscapes in Europe are created by sheep. Due to the fact of intensification and abandance of livestock, many of the biotopes are endangered and protected as nature reserverse. They need grazing / browsing by sheep or goats to prevent the invasion of shrubs and high grass cover.
Particularly goats can help to control shrubs.
Goats can tolerate a big proportion of leafs in their diet, like to climb and can even reach feed, where sheep, other livestock or machines have difficulties. With their special browsing behavior they can select good fodder in marginal environments.
At the Thünen-Institute of Organic Farming special questions have been further elaborated, particularly the fodder value of shrub leafs, the behavior of goats in shrub dominated environments and the utilisation of kids without mother in biotop management have been developed.
Goal of the research was the development of practicable systems of biotop management, which a) reach the goals (shrub control, prevention and improvement of the biotop-indicators), b) are economically for the society (costs of biotop management) and profitable for the animal holder), and c) be acceptable for animal welfare (health, productivity, behavior).
The system of biotop management with goats was developed by Prof. Dr. Gerold Rahmann at the University of Kassel in the 90s.
At the Thünen-Institute of Organic Farming open questions left in the system development have been answered: feeding values, grazing/browsing behavior, special system approaches. The dairy goat herd on the experimental station in Trenthorst as well as pratice farms throughout Germany have been used for the research.
7.1993 - 12.2012
Funding program: EU - COST Action
Project status: finished