University of Florida

Silvopasture with Goats

Diversifying income sources on farms is one way to provide relative stability within fluctuating crop and commodity markets. Silvopasture is one way to accomplish this.

Silvopasture systems combine livestock, timber production, and forage management. Landowners can get income from livestock while they wait for timber to mature. The system also reduces the needs for inputs such as fertilizers, herbicides, and feed, while providing the productive benefits of all three components (livestock, timber, forage).

Trees can be planted on pasture or existing stands can be thinned and managed for optimal forage. Many landowners have used cattle for silvopasture systems, but goats are an alternative livestock species that provides meat, dairy, and fiber products.

Goat Production

Goats provide a unique opportunity in that demand for traditional goat products such as meat, milk, and cheese is increasing, especially from ethnic populations.

Goats can be managed on limited land acreage, and small-scale farmers can generally achieve self-sufficiency with a small herd.

Producers will need to invest in fencing and herd health in order to protect their goats from predators and monitor for parasites and diseases.

System Benefits

Incorporating trees into your livestock and forage system

  • reduces moisture loss,
  • provides shade and protection for livestock, and
  • improves soil conditions.

The goats themselves reduce the need for herbicides and decrease the trees’ competitors, due to their grazing habits. Goats do well with a diverse diet and will “graze down” plants and shrubs starting at the top of the plant.


Goat Breeds

There are several breeds suitable for the Southeast. When choosing meat goats, consider their breed’s

  • Adaptability. Make sure they are adapted to the same conditions as your farm.
  • Growth Rate. Meat goats should have high post-weaning growth rates.
  • Reproduction. Purchase or keep does that produce twins.
  • Feed Efficiency. Choose goats that need the least feed to gain weight.

Stocking Rates

Ensure that you do not overstock your system and maintain good rotation practices. Rotation will also improve weight gain and reduce parasite loads.


Many ethnic and religious groups prefer goats for holidays and celebrations. Here are some key times for increased goat demand.




Easter (Western and Eastern)


Kids, younger than 1 year



Male adults


October – December

Kids, with milk teeth

Id al Adha

February – March


Also: Christmas, July 4th, Jamaican Independence Day, Carnival

For questions about animal husbandry, forage, or forest management and how to establish a silvopasture system contact your local Extension agent.

Adapted and excerpted from:

Goats among Trees: A Silvopastoral Possibility” (31KB pdf), UF/IFAS Center for Subtropical Agroforestry (retrieved 04/2011).

white goat

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