Using goats to control Acacia Karoo as a weed in rangelands; forage in the winter and the benefits of goats milk.

Sufficient winter forage for herbivores on game farms: Just like humans, herbivorous animals have food preferences; certain groups of plants and plant species are chosen before others. Browser game species, such as kudu and bushbuck feed mostly on leaves and shoots of trees and shrubs. Mixed feeders, such as impala, nyala and springbuck browse during winter and graze in summer, depending on the availability of grasses and forbs. Fallen leaf litter, especially of buffalo thorn, provide important winter forage reserves. According to Dr Beanélri Janecke, wildlife researcher at the University of the Free State, on a game ranch, animal numbers must match available browse during winter, not summer browse capacity. Browsing game species have such preference for certain plant species that some palatable trees may eventually be wiped out. Generally, this happens when stocking densities are too high, resulting in over-browsing (i.e. where all browse material has been removed up to a reachable height, and trees have taken on strange shapes). Animals are always searching for the best food items to meet their requirements, and deciduous trees usually form the main component in a browsing animal’s diet. This means that during winter, the browser’s main food source is leafless, and a period of browse shortage (usually form the end of July to mid-September) might occur if other food sources, such as palatable evergreen plants and semi-deciduous shrubs are not available. Other factors that influence availability of browse are: A tree’s growth form that results in certain parts of the canopy being out of reach; bush thickening and encroachment that renders the inside of such a dense stand of trees inaccessible to browsers; thorns that limit access to leaves and shoots; and competition between animals. A good rule of thumb is to stock fewer animals than the total browse capacity calculated for a ranch (Farmer’s Weekly, 19 September 2014). For more information, contact Dr Janecke on 051 401 9030 or email her at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Benefits of goat milk: In 2014, total global production of goat milk amounted to two billion litres, while the average annual production figures were 840 litres of milk per goat. According to Ward Watzeels, from the Dutch goat milk company, Bettinehoeve, goat milk is tasty, healthy, and thanks to small fat particles making it similar to breast milk, easy to digest. It is an alternative for people who are intolerant of cow’s milk, and is a source of magnesium, iron and vitamins A and D. Consumer demand is driven by taste, reported health benefits, a green image and an alternative protein source.
Locally, quite a large range of goat milk beauty products are available, such as body butter, which the manufacturers claim to penetrate deeply into the skin, to maintain moisture, nourish and hydrate the skin. The story is also told that in ancient times, Egyptian princesses bathed in goat milk to boost longevity.

Acacia karroo a boost for goat nutrition: Acacia karroo is included in the National Weed List and regarded as an invader of natural rangeland, competing for space, light, water and nutrients. Several methods have been devised to eradicate encroaching, with little or no success. If seen as a source of protein supplement for indigenous goats, especially in communal areas, this can assist in controlling encroachment. Goats supplemented with A. karroo leaf have higher growth rates and lower meat pH than non-supplemented groups. A. karroo supplementation also significantly affects meat tenderness and juiciness. Recent studies indicate that tannin-rich plants such as A. karroo might present a promising option to reduce nematode infections in small ruminants (David Brown, Farmer’s Weekly, 6 February 2015).