Fir Farm’s small flock of goats is an amazingly important natural land management tool. Goats will graze happily where other animals fear to tread, including steep banks with brambles, thistles and weeds.
This helps us to manage even the most awkward areas of land at low cost and without using fossil fuels.
Goats were, incidentally, one of the first animals – if not the first – to be domesticated some 11,000 years ago in the Near East. Like cattle, they have four separate stomach chambers. This is what makes it possible for them to digest the toughest roughage. Their ability to eat food others cannot contemplate is helped by having a strong dental pad instead of teeth on their upper jaw and a tough, highly mobile upper lip, which they use to sort through thorny twigs to find the more tender sections in between.
Allowing goats to graze selected verges and tracks is helping us to keep the farm tidy with zero use of herbicides and minimal labour.