Myth: Goats will mow your lawn.
I see this one all the time. I’ve been asked about it, I’ve heard well meaning people tell other people. It’s just one of those misconceptions that everyone seems to repeat. The “goat services” don’t really help this rumor either. Goats are not very good at mowing your lawn. The reason the “goat services” have goats grazing is because that’s all they offer the goats to eat. Also, the grass they are usually eating starts out really tall, which they like. What goats are best for is eliminating invasive plants like Scotch broom, Himalayan blackberry, and kudzu. I am now seeing changes in the goat services which are now including sheep.
Goats are browsers rather than grazers like sheep. They prefer to eat food that’s above their shoulder height. My goats won’t even eat food that is touching the ground. We have a little pasture area for our goats. They pretty much ignore it until it’s taller than them and then they will munch it down to about knee level. It’s uneven and quite unattractive so if you’re looking for a nicely trimmed lawn goats aren’t going to do the trick. But they’ll have no problem
pruning destroying your roses. The benefit of having browers is that they aren’t eating off of the ground exposing themselves to parasites. The downside is that they will eat all of your plants and trees if they get out.
Myth: Turkeys are dumb.
Well, maybe some turkeys are dumb like the broad-breasted industrial turkeys. But heritage turkeys? Not that dumb actually. Sure the poults don’t know what food is and will ingest their litter until they die. I swear repeatedly and loudly when I have to herd them somewhere, which is pretty much every day – worse than herding cats by a long shot. But here’s the thing with turkeys – they aren’t instinctual like chickens. Instead they learn from their mother (or you if you are hand raising them). Poults also have really poor eyesight when they are young so you have to take certain precautions to keep them from ingesting stuff they shouldn’t if you don’t have their mom caring for them. Shiny marbles in their feed help as does using feed for litter until they are eating out of their feeder regularly.
Myth: Chickens need a rooster to lay an egg.
A chicken is going to lay an egg no matter what. The only thing a rooster determines is if that egg is fertile or not. Think of it as a chicken getting her period every time she lays an egg. Sounds pretty miserable to me.
Myth: Goats will eat anything and everything.
I remember this storybook when I was a child about a goat that ate tin cans. A goat will probably mouth a tin can but won’t ingest it. Not having fingers and being curious animals, goats use their mouths to feel stuff like we do with our hands. Feeling stuff and chewing on stuff does not mean that they eat everything. They can be quite picky in reality.
Myth: Meat chickens are genetically engineered and fed hormones and antibiotics to grow so large.
The Cornish X – the typical commercial meat chicken breed – is simply a hybrid breed made up of a cross of White Cornish and White Plymouth Rock breeds. It’s not a GMO but simply the result of specialized proprietary breeding lines using those two breeds. I’ve raised them organically (no medications, hormones or antibiotics) and they still grow freakishly fast.
Myth: Livestock will bring rats.
Just like if you leave out cat and dog food, if you leave out livestock feed the rats will come. Keeping the feed out of their reach by storing feed in metal cans with rodent-proof lids and hanging feeders in places that rats can’t access (from the ceiling of the coop and at least 9″ off the ground) or only feeding what can be immediately consumed you shouldn’t have a problem. Plus chickens will kill rodents. Restaurants, grocery stores and your garbage can are much larger concerns in regards to attracting rodents.
Myth: Bees will harass you and sting you.
Bees would actually prefer not to sting you. A bee only gets one shot and if you aren’t bothering them (stepping on them or threatening their hive) they’ll leave you alone. Wasps, yellow jackets and Africanized bees are a different story and can be quite aggressive. But the honey bee is easy to live with. I regularly do maintenance around the hives in my normal clothes with no issue. The chickens like to take dust baths and sit in the shade under them.