Goats: Hungry to Help You Control Weeds!

By Heath Keirstead | August 15, 2014
Goat eats ivy! © C. Durbecq
Goat eats ivy! © C. Durbecq

In Benton County, folks manage forests, farms, school grounds, wetlands and household landscapes. All these managers have to control weeds. Currently, the prevailing weed control philosophy is known as Integrated Pest Management (IPM). IPM is a strategy for pest control that incorporates prevention and various removal techniques-from mechanical to chemical methods-while taking into consideration each method’s potential cost effectiveness, ecological impacts and human health effects. Goats are a great tool to include in any Integrated Pest Management strategy, and are becoming a more common option in Oregon.

This summer, 40 goats ate their way through a mountain of English ivy on OSU’s campus in about a week. Their efforts effectively reduced the ivy infestation so that Facilities Services can finish the job with fewer herbicide applications than they would have used otherwise. Some of the plants they can help manage include blackberry, poison ivy, poison oak, English ivy, and thistles. Goats will also eat desirable vegetation, so make sure to fence off any plants you want to keep. Goats are a good option when the infestation is so dense or the terrain so steep that it would be challenging for humans to navigate. And now that goats are gaining popularity, you don’t have to own your own herd to benefit from their weed-munching prowess! Goats can be rented from several companies in the Pacific Northwest. OSU hired Goat Power, LLC for their recent project. You might consider goats for your next weed management effort. They are a welcome addition to the IPM toolbox!
Just for fun: Calculate the number of animals (goats, cows, chickens, guinea pigs?!?) needed to mow your lawn!
BEFORE © T. Matteson
The ivy outside OSU’s Crop Science Building the day the Goat Power goats arrived. © T. Matteson
AFTER © C. Durbecq
The same hillside the day before the goats left. © C. Durbecq

About the Author

Heath Keirstead

Heath Keirstead manages Benton SWCD’s Communications and Community Engagement as well as the Native Plant Program and Youth Education. She has a Master’s in Soil Science from Oregon State University. With a dual passion for people and the planet, she loves building relationships with partners, customers, volunteers, and students.

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