Goats can be invaluable friends to your yards when it comes to keeping weeds in check. Who doesn’t love that? Unfortunately, goats will also eat some of your ornamental plants and vegetables. The good news is, there are a few ways you can deter goats from snacking on your flowers, ornamental shrubs, and vegetables.
Goats are herbivores and have a voracious appetite. Thankfully, there are certain scents that will keep them away from your plants and desirables. Goats hate the scent of certain herbs like lavender, sage, hydrangea, cayenne pepper and also detest animal dung and peppermint oil.
Read on to learn about more scents that goats hate, along with other ways you can keep goats from noshing and trampling your plants, vegetables, and bushes!
Why Keep Goats Away?
Goats love to eat! And will not stop at your hard earned flourishing plants. One of the best ways to keep goats away and stop them from eating your plants is to grow plants that goats don’t like and won’t eat.
Goats have a wide-ranging diet and will even eat things like poison ivy! However, there are certain plants that goats will not eat because they offend their sense of smell, taste bitter, or are poisonous to goats.
If goats are grazing in your yard, you will want to be able to contain where and what they are eating. Goats have an insatiable appetite and are known to eat anywhere from 8-12 hours each day.
With this kind of appetite, you can see that it is important to keep your goats in check!
What Kind Of Damage Can Goats Cause?
While goats can help remove unwanted weeds and other vegetation from your property, they can also cause unwanted damage.
Goats who graze beyond weeds that are undesirable and wander to your vegetables or other ornamental plants can kill these cultivated plants by eating or stomping on them.
Scents That Goats Hate (Full List)
There are scents that goats hate and will keep them away. Some of these can be purchased, others can be grown in your yard. If you find one scent to not be effective at deterring goats, try adding a few more and see if they have a better success rate.
Goats Hate Lavender
A popular ornamental herb, lavender is famous for its pleasing sweet smell. Often used in essential oils, perfumes, and candles, people love the smell of lavender for its relaxing properties. Lavender is also a calming herb used in certain herbal teas.
Unlike people, goats hate the smell of lavender. You can plant lavender plants around your yard, or use a lavender oil spray to deter goats from grazing in unwanted areas of your property.
You can plant lavender in the ground near other plants and vegetables that you do not want them to bother. Potted lavender can also be used in the same way.
Lavender can also be used in its essential oil form and used in a spray. You can even mix your own DIY lavender spray to deter goats! Simply add 20 drops of oil, such as Majestic Pure Lavender Essential Oil, to 2 cups of water. This spray can be used in the areas where you want to deter goats.
Mullein Keeps Goats Away
Mullein is a plant whose flowers have long been used for medicinal purposes. The oil extracted from mullein has been used to treat skin conditions and respiratory ailments. Mullein will grow in any open, sunny area and prefers sandy soil.
Goats do not like mullein. When goats step on mullein it releases a scent that goats hate. Mullein also tastes very bitter to goats.
You can use mullein in your yard to keep goats away. Plant mullein in areas you want to keep goats out. Mullein needs full sun to grow and thrive, so you can only use this plant to deter goats in areas where you will get the right amount of sun. You can purchase mullein seeds like Earthcare Seeds Great Mullein 150 Heirloom Seeds and plant them in any sunny open space in your yard.
Goats Stay Away From Sage
Sage is a plant that has long been used for cooking and its aromatic scent. People burn sage to clear the air and cook with it in many savory dishes including stews and roasted dishes. Sage grows best in well-drained soil and with a bit of shade.
You can use sage to deter goats because they do not like the scent this plant puts off. Sage is also toxic to goats and most times animals will not eat plants that are harmful to them unless there is no other food available. Goats will only eat sage if they are near starving.
Planting sage in areas you want to keep goats away will most likely turn their attention to grazing in another area in your yard.
Hydrangeas Keeps Goats Away
Hydrangea is a very common ornamental flowering bush that has over 75 species. This plant comes in a wide variety of colors and has a pleasant scent. Many people plant hydrangea around their property and often use the cut flowers inside their homes.
Hydrangea repels a lot of insects and also repels goats. Goats will not eat hydrangea unless they are starving, and because goats eat such a wide variety of plants and weeds, it isn’t likely that if you have other plants around your property that goats will be starving.
You can plant hydrangea anywhere around your yard you would like to keep goats away. Hydrangea grows well in partial sun and fertile, moist, well-drained soil. You can buy Endless Summer Bloomstruck Hydrangeas in a variety of colors and beautify your yard while keeping the goats away!
Cayenne Pepper Keeps Goats Away
Similar to many other animals, cayenne pepper keeps goats at bay. Simply put, the scent of cayenne pepper is irritating to goats and additionally (similar to peppermint oil below) is strong enough to mask potential food sources and provide a bitter taste to anything that goats may bite.
The main ingredient in cayenne pepper, capsaicin, is the main spice component in chili peppers. Too hot!
Animal Dung Repels Goats
Goats are deterred by the smell of animal dung. Apply animal dung to areas you want to keep goats from grazing and stomping on plants.
One thing that is very important to note is that dung should not be used on vegetable or edible plants that you will be eating.
While animal dung is a scent that goats hate, it is one of the more complicated to use because of the risks involved. I mean, it’s dung?
Generally, cow dung should do the trick. So if you have a farm, you can you know, repurpose it.
Peppermint Oil Keeps Goats Away
If you want to use a spray to deter goats, there are several different options available for purchase. These sprays are formulated with scents that goats and other pests do not like.
Most notably, peppermint oil is one of the universal essential oils that many animals seem to stay away from, most specifically, goats. It’s believed that the strong scent of peppermint oil is irritating to the sinus of a goat and masks potential food sources, making them stay away.
This Natural Armor Animal And Rodent Repellant Spray can be used to repel many animals in your yard. While goats aren’t specifically listed as an animal it repels, this is a general spray than can be applied.
Other Ways To Keep Goats Away
If you have a problem with goats damaging your property, you may want to add other methods in addition to, or instead of, plants and scents goats hate. Here are a few other ways to keep goats away.
You can use exclusion methods like fencing to keep goats out. When planning a fence to keep goats away from plants or gardens in your yard, you will want to choose a fence that is at least four feet high.
A four-foot fence will be high enough to keep goats out, considering that most goats would not be able to jump over that height.
When choosing a material for fencing to keep goats out (or in) an area, you will want to pick a material that is strong enough to withstand leaning and climbing attempts from goats. Fencing with four-inch squares is ideal so that animals cannot get their heads stuck in the fencing as well.
It is also recommended that you build a fence with vertical bars as opposed to horizontal bars to prevent the goats from standing or climbing up the fence. Woven wire or field fencing, with four-inch holes, are among the most commonly used to keep goats out of off-limits areas.
Make Loud Noises
Like many animals, goats do not like loud or sudden noises. Using an automatically censored piece of equipment that will send off loud sounds when triggered by motion sensors is always an option to repel goats with sound.
You can also play loud music, bang pots, and pans, and use other noise-makers to keep goats away.
However, goats will adapt to this and so using loud noises is not the most consistently reliable or best way to keep goats away. This method is most likely a bit effective if used in conjunction with another method, such as using plants and other scents that goats hate.
Wrapping It Up!
If you keep goats, you know this comes with pros and cons. While you love having goats for many reasons, including very effective lawn, grass, and weed maintenance, goats can cause problems as well.
The methods described above are effective at keeping goats from damaging your property by overgrazing and stomping on your plants and gardens. For the best results, you will want to incorporate a few different methods until you find the right combination to keep goats away.
Keep in mind that goats are adaptable animals. Switching the way you keep goats away every so often will give you the best chance to prevent goat damage to your property.
Weaver, Sue. The Backyard Goat: An Introductory Guide to Keeping and Enjoying Pet Goats, from Feeding and Housing to Making Your Own Cheese. Storey Publishing, 2011.
Papachristou, Thomas G., Luthando E. Dziba, and Frederick D. Provenza. “Foraging ecology of goats and sheep on wooded rangelands.” Small Ruminant Research 59.2-3 (2005): 141-156.
Muminov, Azamjon, et al. “Modern virtual fencing application: Monitoring and controlling behavior of goats using GPS collars and warning signals.” Sensors 19.7 (2019): 1598.
Zack is a Nature & Wildlife specialist based in Upstate, NY, and is the founder of his Tree Journey and Pest Pointers brands. He has a vast experience with nature while living and growing up on 50+ acres of fields, woodlands, and a freshwater bass pond. Zack has encountered many pest situations over the years and has spent his time maintaining and planting over 35 species of trees since his youth with his family on their property.
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