A heard of 100 ‘ecogoats’ is grazing the perimeter of Washington’s Congressional Cemetery to remove invasive weeds before they damage trees in the surrounding woodland.
Using goats to clear out weeds means no chemicals sprays, a fast result and fertiliser added back to the soil. The US company Eco-Goats says it combines goat herding knowledge with the expert vegetation skills of a licensed professional forester.
The goats are introduced for a limited period of intensive grazing and kept in their designated target area with portable electric fences. They will eat everything up to about 7ft (2m) high, including invasive vines and poison ivy. They apparently prefer broadleaf plants to grass, so if you want to get rid of scrubby, weedy undergrowth and let the grass return, here’s your method. And in sensitive areas where machinery might damage rocks, stones or the built environment, goats are very agile and walk lightly on the land.
Goats also have a very narrow, triangular mouth which means that most seeds get crushed as they chew, meaning they are not returned in a viable state in droppings.
I’ve seen photos of other areas managed by goats with less success – the key seems to be short, intensive bursts of goat grazing rather than a long-term, continuous presence.