Who knew? Goats like Bamboo!
Japanese Knotweed, an aggressive invasive plant common in raparian areas, sprout eternal in some areas of our land. Japanese Knotweed, originally imported from eastern asia as an ornamental, is now generally thought of as a pest in this area. Last year I knoticed that my goats really like it, so I did a little research to make sure it wasn't poisonous to goats. Contrary to common beliefs, goats can be very picky eaters and can't eat everything including the kitchen sink. Here is a pretty long list of plants goats should not eat. Mostly, I found that my resources said maybe goats could eat Japanese Knottweed, but nobody said it was poisonous. It was also noted that the young shoots were edible to humans and a potential alternate to rhubarb.
So, Last year, I gently and slowly allowed the goats access to Japanese Knotweed, watching for ill effects. I didn't find any, and I have come to the decision that it is OK for the goats to eat it. And that's a good thing, as I have a bunch of it I don't want and the goats really like it, particularly on a hot day.
Our Knotweed (also called Japanese or Mexican Bamboo) grows along a drainage ditch and is relatively compact. Given the invasive nature of Bamboo, I would not want to cultivate or allow it to spread. I have eradicated one small colony, and it was very labor intensive. I actually dug out all the soil down to about about 24 inches, sifting it for the rhizomes. And even after that, I have to go back and pull a few shoots every year to prevent a rhizomes from a nearby colony from reastablishing.
This is what's left when they get done, bare stalks. The goats are after the the foliage only. So, Every day, I cut a bundle of knotweed and bring it to the goats. They looked forward to the treat enthusiastically. Their next paddock rotation backs up against the knotweed and they will be self serving. I bet they run out pretty quick, though, at the rate they can eat it. It will be very interesting to see the goats impact on the colony. Will they eat it sustainably or will their impact damage the colony? I think if they had continuous access to it, they with impact the colony. But since I will rotate them out of the paddock after a month, the knotweed will have two or three months to recover. And since the goats only eat the foliage and the stalks also provide surface area for photosynthesis, the plant will probably survive.