𝘚𝘦𝘱𝘵𝘦𝘮𝘣𝘦𝘳 08, 2022
The lead story on the front page of my local newspaper was the herd of goats brought in to clear property in Fort Smith owned by Arkansas Oklahoma Gas (AOG). The goats are owned by another Fort Smith concern and anywhere from 20 to 40 goats are brought in depending on the size of the area to be cleared. The area is surrounded by solar powered electric fencing to contain the goats and the firm checks on them daily to ensure they are alright and have plenty of drinking water. AOG used this method last May and loved it, as did the surrounding residents. A heard of 40 goats can clear an acre of problem vegetation in three of four days. Not only do the goats get fed, but the area is cleared without chemicals, erosion, or burning fossil fuels. The director of operations said this was part of AOG’s commitment to conserving natural resources and lessening the company’s impact on the environment.
When I looked online, I found the domestic goat (Capra hircus) is a domesticated species of goat-antelope kept as livestock. It was domesticated from the wild goat (Capra aegagrus) of Southwest Asia and Eastern Europe. The goat is a member of the family Bovidae and the tribe Caprini, meaning it is closely related to sheep. Goats are one of the oldest domesticated animal species according to archaeological evidence and their earliest domestication occurred in Iran at 10,000 years ago. Raising goats is still important in places like the Middle East. Goats have been used for milk (cheese), meat, fur, and skins across much of the world. Female goats are referred to as does or nannies, intact males are called bucks or Billie’s, and juvenile goats of both sexes are called kids. Castrated males are called wethers. As of 2011 there were more than 924 million goats from over 300 distinct breeds living in the world.
Concerns over emissions, pesticides, herbicides, and other chemical effects on our planet have led many to contemplate earth-friendly options for grooming landscapes. Goats are not only a safe option for weed control but can also keep the lawn trimmed. Goats have been used for centuries as four-legged brush clearing machines and will eat almost any type of vegetation. They have the capacity to digest plants with stickers and thorns, along with poison ivy and other pest plants. Raising goats for weed management requires other knowledge, such as housing, supplemental feeding, and the number of goats you will need for the best outcome. Unless the goats are moved you may find the area so well managed that you will have to give more supplemental food to the animals, but this is recommended anyway to supplement their forage. The animals will need to be fenced carefully as they are adept at leaping, jumping, and climbing. A good fence will keep the goats contained and prevent predators (coyotes) from taking them. This would probably not be a good option for my half acre city lot.
𝗧𝗛𝗢𝗨𝗚𝗛𝗧𝗦: As director of a camp in central Kansas I checked on raising goats to clear the poison ivy from the many wooded areas of the property. I do not recall why we did not proceed, but it probably meant another project that I would have overseen. The goats were also suggested to be part of a small petting zoo for children. At the time I thought I would have required a Billy goat to protect the herd from the coyotes and occasional dog packs that prowled the countryside. Now I know I could have used Zena. Many companies are now looking for alternative practices to reduce their carbon footprint. Whatever the reason (cost, image, real concern), the reduction will help. Act for all. Change is coming and it starts with you.