Compare alternative treatments
Managing goats to reduce unwanted vegetation . . .
Browsing tamarisk and tall wheat grass at
BLM's Payne Ranch.
Goats are a biotic vegetation management tool that can be an alternative, or a compliment, to other techniques: hand tools, mechanical equipment, herbicide or controlled burns. Goats eat five to ten percent of their body weight daily. They are ruminant bipedal browsers, able to eat in three dimensions, an especially effective in "hard to reach places": around trees, rocks and on slopes. They are an excellent addition to a multi-species grazing plan or as part of an IPM (Integrated Pest Management) Program.
Utilizing goats for vegetation management reduces hand labor costs, reduces threat of catastrophic fire, reduces use of pesticides and herbicides, reduces use of petroleum products, reduces erosion, reduces toxic or species (like poison oak and star thistle), improves air quality, encourages native species, improves habitat and improves water and nutrient cycling over other vegetation treatment techniques.
Working with goats is working with natural processes. Goats have a digestive system designed to eat a diet dominated by brush, the dominant plant type in the western
Managed properly, goat browsing can encourage or discourage plant species.
Goat browsing can reduce fire fuel loads, create defensible space and firebreaks, reduce ladder fuels and fuel continuity in poison oak, buck brush, chemise, ceanothus, coffee berry, deer brush, coyote brush, Manzanita, oak, rabbit brush, toyon, and many other flammable invasive plant species, including broom.
In horse and cow pastures, goat browsing can improve habitat by reducing blackberry, bull thistle, Canadian thistle, cress, dock, fiddleneck, rose, scotch broom, smart weed, tarweed, and yellow star thistle.