About the Goat Herd

Why the BCCD is Using Goats to Help Restore Natural Areas

The BCCD has spent the past two growing seasons using goats to help with weed control in habitat restoration projects. When a restoration project is in its infancy stages a lot of weed control is being completed. This can be very labor intensive and tedious work. The BCCD thought using livestock to help with this would cut down on labor costs and save the district some of its valuable funding.

Why goats? Goats are considered browsers. They have far ranging diets that consist mainly of broadleaf plants. This includes anything from thistles, wild parsnip, burdock, garlic mustard, to even small trees and brush. These are all things that the district fights when trying to develop a prairie, savanna, or wetland. The thought is, why not try to use that natural instinct to our advantage? so we did. In the spring of 2009 we purchased four goats and were amazed by the types and quantity of plants that they eat. I was sold when I saw them fight over a 10ft by 10ft patch of Canada thistle. How can anything put that in their mouth and digest it? You can’t even pick that plant with leather gloves without it biting you and usually drawing blood – amazing!

We feel that the experiment has been a success and will continue it in the years to come. One problem is that when the winter comes and the weeds stop growing the goats still need to eat and have shelter. The district does have a barn where they will spend their winters. We even have extra hay from our Autumn Pioneer Festival that will be used as bedding. The last items needed are hay and grain. This is not yet covered.

The district will gladly accept donations to help feed the goats this winter. Donations of cash/check (the district would then purchase what is needed), grain, or hay will thankfully be accepted. If hay is donated, 2nd or 3rd cutting is preferred. Keep the high quality first cutting for your horses and cattle. One note is that goats will eat a lot of things,  but unfortunately wet and moldy hay is not one of them; please make sure any hay donation is dry. Thank you!

If you would like more information about the goat project or would like to make a donation, please contact: Joshua Sage, jsage@bccdil.org or 815-547-7935.