23 June 2016

Goats Provide Non-Toxic Weed Control

(City of Calgary)
With health and safety concerns growing around chemical weed control, individuals and cities are looking for non-toxic, environmentally friendly options.

This week the city of Calgary, Alberta launched their goat grazing pilot project.

A herd of approximately 100 goats was introduced to a portion of Confluence (West Nose Creek) Park. For the next few weeks, the herd will dine on invasive weed species, including Canada thistle.

“We know that grazing has the potential to offer several benefits for managing landscapes in Calgary,” Chris Manderson, Urban Conservation lead for Calgary Parks, said in a release. “Targeted grazing for weeds is environmentally friendly and sustainable, and there’s evidence from other cities that indicates that it can also be cost-effective.”

Goats provide an alternative to pesticide use, their droppings fertilize the soil, and their hooves work the earth helping to till, aerate and condition the ground.

The project has been taken on by Baah’d Plant Management and Reclamation who provide not just the goats but a shepherd, horse, one herding dog and three guardian dogs to do the work.

Chicago, Boston, Pittsburgh are examples of other cities that have used goats for weed control.

But weed control isn’t the only function of the vegetation-clearing critters. Goats have also been used to clear hiking and biking trails and create fire breaks.

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