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Goats munch their way to stardom in eco-friendly land management

Sunday, August 14, 2011 by: M.Thornley
Tags: goats, land management, health news

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(NewsTarget) In many states, eco-friendly goats are putting traditional lawn mowers on the bench. They assist machine land clearing by doing beneficial follow up in clearing regrowth. They can not only trim lawns but they can also clear brush. They chow down on nuisance weeds and harmful invasive plants. Nimble goats clamber over rocks and down steep embankments or even rocky cliffs seeking meals in places not easily accessible to others. Thirty goats can clear 100 square meters of brush per day.

Goats eat an amazing variety of nuisance or problematic plants, and actually prefer brush over grass, tackling with enthusiasm plants other animals won`t touch. Some plants goats will consume are: poison oak, sage brush, curly dock, sapling trees, willow, cattails, manzanita, and mountain misery.

In fire prone areas such as California, goats prevent or reduce the danger of brush fires by eliminating ladder fuels. `Ladder fuels` are dry vegetation such as grass, bushes, brush and small tree branches. These can lead fires to the tops of trees where embers can be spread over long distances and cannot easily be reached by firefighters on the ground. Goats eliminate ladder fuels, helping to reduce the spread or occurrence of wildfires.

Goats assist with land clearing by doing follow up work after machine clearing in the form of removing regrowth from roots left behind. Goats reduce the necessity of hand clearing or the use of chainsaws and weed wackers, which could be restricted in fire season. A herd of hungry goats can help homeowners reduce fire danger and nuisance plants by chomping down on star thistle, blackberries and poison oak.

Goats do not harm mature trees. They do not eat through bark. Goats eat what they can reach. In orchards, goats don`t compact the soil, and they do not disturb indigenous species. Goats also leave their fertilizer behind to encourage the plants people want.

Increasingly, goats are being recognized for their unique abilities in grounds management and are being used in parks and gardens to trim lawns and clear brush. In Gaithersburg, Maryland, a conservation group in partnership with the city is using goats to remove harmful, invasive plants in parks.

People also remark on the pleasures of interacting with goats. A program associate noted, ``It`s such an innovative, sustainable way of removing invasive species, and you get to hang out with some cute goats.``

In Andover, Massachusetts, the European buckthorn tree and the strangling bittersweet vine were pushing out local wildlife. When the city couldn`t always afford the cost of mowing and manpower to keep these nuisances back, the use of economical goats solved their invasive plant and cost problems.


About the author

M. Thornley enjoys walking, writing and pursuing a raw vegan diet and lifestyle.

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