600 Goats!

As part of our weed control effort we decided to contract goats to eat the weeds rather than spray herbicides. Goats have the advantage that they can easily navigate the steep and wooded areas where spraying is difficult. They also provide natural fertilizer.

The company we contracted with was Prescriptive Livestock Services, as recommended by Livestock for Landscapes. What we got was 600 goats, a Peruvian goatherd (here on a work visa), and 4 herding dogs. They stayed for 12 days and grazed the major infested areas of the property.

The dogs were generally friendly to Pumpkin and Rosie; in fact, Rosie was unhappy to see one of the herder's pups leave. Both Pumpkin and Rosie got the chance to do some herding, directing “lost” goats back to the herd and keeping others away from our garden and landscaping. They both have herding dog genes.

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02 June 2014: This is what the Leafy Spurge along the highway looked like. See the results by clicking on this picture then on the picture directly below.

Of course, children love to see the goats. Here grandchild Lauren counts the goats lounging in the sage below the Main House.

Grazing in one of the many gullies on our property.

If allowed to graze too long, the goats can do damage. Here they started eating the sage and a small Douglas Fir once the other vegetation was gone.

09 August 2014: After clicking on this picture and the picture above, switch between the tabs to see the difference. Note absence of yellow-green spurge.

Some of the goats are friendly but mostly they shy away from dogs and humans.

Heading out to the next assignment.

They moved to a location about 2 miles away. If they are only moving a few miles, it is quickest to herd them down the highway.

It will be interesting to see how the grazed areas look next year. As with spraying herbicides, one grazing will not eliminate weeds; this is an ongoing battle we will continue next Spring and Fall and longer if the results look promising. Perhaps over time we can reduce the number of days the goats are needed.