Those Dreaded Shared Vegetative Clippings!
When Neighbors Won't Stop "Sharing"
Reading Time: 2 minutes
Do plant clippings find their way into your pasture? Are they from your very generous and “helpful” neighbors? What precautions need to be taken? We’ll discuss a few considerations as you deal with this very real problem.
So why should we care if a neighbor is dumping grass clippings or plant prunings into our pasture? There are a lot of reasons why! Your goats can get bloat or acidosis or even deadly enterotoxemia from eating things they aren’t used to. They can also get an impacted gut from some plant parts or from garbage mixed within. How about incurring toxicity from mushroom bits in lawn clippings, mold, poisonous plants, herbicides, or chemical fertilizers? There is also the possibility of getting an injury to faces, eyes, mouth, or mammaries from sharp plant parts. Your goats may even get lungworm or other issues from slugs or snails in the vegetation. Yes, this is a very real concern!
The easiest way to work with this potential problem is to take a friend or spouse to visit and educate in a nice way the many risks involved with dumping clippings over the fence, which we had to do once. Then explain the above list to them and ask them to please no longer feed anything else. This is all you will need to do with a neighbor that is kind, thoughtful, and respectful. A neighbor like this may even be willing to bring you safe clippings to feed, which allows you to check the safety of the roughage gift each time.
If your neighbor doesn’t get it or doesn’t care, then one has another issue at hand. In that case, you can get educated, if you like, on your county’s regulations for “dumping” waste. You can also talk with your local sheriff department to get information on what your rights are. In reality, this is going to be very hard to enforce and extremely low on law enforcement priority while also making your neighbors angrier and more likely to do really dumb things. We have done the following in these situations: One time we built a second fence within our own to keep our animals away from one property fence line. This actually makes a great opportunity to plant shrubs and trees that goats like and give you privacy from a bad neighbor at the same time — WIN-WIN! We have also pulled up stakes and moved when the neighborhood went “south.” Both methods solved numerous issues, including our sanity and our priority of keeping our animals safe.
Wishing you all wonderful neighborhoods and happy goats!
Katherine Drovdahl and husband Jerry keep LaManchas, Norwegian Fjords, alpaca,s and gardens on a small piece of Washington State paradise. Her products, Master of Herbology trained consultations and signed copies of The Accessible pet, Equine, and Livestock Herbal are available at firmeadowllc.com . Farm and herb information is also available at www.facebook.com/FirMeadowllc
Originally published in the 2021 special issue of Goat Journal — Goat Health from Head to Hoof Vol. 2 — and regularly vetted for accuracy.