Monday, October 1, 2012

Geep Flerds and Weed Control Success. I am writing this in August and after a very wet, cold slow start to the year, then summer arrived around the 20th July and has been hot and humid since; great weather for weeds. We kept our Flerd mix at 30% goats and 70% sheep and found the weeds were being kept in check quite nicely. There is a wise old saying where I come from. “Kill a thistle in May, and you’ll rue the day, kill a thistle in June and you killed him too soon, but kill a thistle in July and he will surly die.” Really it points to timing, in July the plants energy reserves are low as the plant is in flower and trying to seed. Once cut at the base it will weaken trying to re-grow. If this is done over several years the plant dies and of course there are less thistles as no seed has been produced. I have gone out in July every year with scrub cutter and scythe to cut the offending weeds down. This year I did not have to as the goats did it for me. So long as the Flerd was kept in the paddock one extra day, the sheep cleaned up the grass clumps and the goats ate the thistles and burdocks. As the photos show they only ate the flower heads and the more tender upper parts of the thistle leaving it 6-10 inches tall. This meant it did not go to seed. The thistle then grows back with tender young shoots and the goats come back and eat them off on the next pass. Over time the thistle becomes part of the salad bar mix in the pasture, never going to seed and increasing in numbers it becomes part of the feed and no longer a weed. The other bonus is I am no longer trudging around the field on a hot day swinging a scythe. Rob Fensom grazes his flerd in Salmon Arm BC and can be reached at

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