It’s a Goat’s Life!

Ok, so this may be a bit left field but as we speak there is a group of maverick Goats hard at work, tackling some of the biggest infestations of Invasive Species to be found anywhere in the United States.

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As originally reported by the BBC, Brian Knox of Washington has trained his Eco Goats to merrily munch their way through a variety of Invasive Species which are currently to be found on his farm.

Mr Knox has now expanded his herd of elite eating machines to 70 and joins a select few like-minded individuals in America who have set up in business, hiring out these Eco Herds to farmers, land owners, local and national organisations as a means to control the spread of Invasive Species on their land. These goats, originally bought for meat, now earn their keep by munching through a range of Invasive Species. The list includes: Poison Ivy, Multiflora Rosa and Bittersweet. They are also tackling the fast growing Kudzu vine, currently causing immense problems in the south east of the country, strangling other species and taking over vast spaces of land. Interestingly, Kudzo was introduced to America form Asia in the 1800’s by explorers…..sound familiar?

Just 35 of these Eco Goats can set to work on half an acre of dense vegetation and will clear it in about four days flat. Even better than that, the only thing they leave behind is an abundance of well-rotted fertilizer!

With many other types of invasive species growing rampantly out there, this certainly seems like an attractive market to be in, and some forward thinking individuals are now adding sheep to assist the goats with their operations. If only it were that simple…. Goats are well known for their disobedient antics and will often lead the sheep astray. Brian Cash of ‘Ewe-niversally Green’ in Georgia has certainly found this to be true and confirms, “We found that the goats led all the mutinies.”

The goat munching technique, whilst impressive may not be the answer to all Invasive Species and is seen very much as a control method only. Any seeds that remain in the soil are still viable and species such as Japanese Knotweed retain a large nutrient reserve within an extensive root system. In short, this method will not completely eradicate these plants but it will certainly help to fight the battle against widespread growth.

Whether you believe that this is the next big thing to hit our industry or not, I certainly like the idea of a herd of insubordinate goats munching their way through acres of Invasive Species in a town near us!

Conor Leyden

Invasive Plant Company