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Some of my fields have a lot of thistles, the big upright ones and the smaller leafy ones.

so far they've been topped in July each year before most seed, lasst year they regrew alot after topping and I tink they are getting worse not better,
One field I'm using this year has goats and geese grazing it ans one corner fenced off for weaners to dig.
So far the grass and thistles are growing faster than the animals can eat it.
Any suggestions please as to how to tackle it to reduce the thistles without using herbisides. I don;t mind it being a slow solution as long as it reduces them over time.
Nicky Colour it green

we have a thistle area - our new shetland ewes do nibble them - I think they might be part goat as they like to browse!

We have been slowly reducing the area by digging them up. slow but it works.

A donkey? (Do they actually like thistles or are they just prepared to eat them if they have to?)
Sally Too

Ponies tend to eat around thistles - and one year I got so annoyed with thistles overrunning one area that I took the lawn mower round the field. (It was a walk behind pushy one and I got a few looks from local farmers!)

Then for years we had a pony that delicately picked the flower heads off all the thistles - and their numbers gradually declined. Cool

Sadly that pony is at my Mum's now (it is hers after all - we borrowed the pony for 1 summer and gave it back 8 years later... Embarassed )

So thistle nos are growing again. However last year himself invested in a little reaper for the old tractor he restored, so hopefully this year they'll get topped again.


Top them when it is about to rain. The stalks are hollow, rain goes in them, and they rot from the inside.

Top them when it is about to rain. The stalks are hollow,
rain goes in them, and they rot from the inside.

That sounds good.
We've been pulling/spading and it slowly works.,last year I used a bushcutter just before they set seed and it seems to have knocked them back, it works best if you use the end of the cutter just below the soil surface to mash the roots a little.

Herbicide is the quickest easiest cheapest method, but if you have unlimited free time

I find that pulling them when the ground is damp works very well - if you get the action right the whole root comes up. I only had a small patch, not acres of the things, but an hour of that for a few evenings kept them under control at least.
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