Goats from Baah’d Plant Management & Reclamation helped to get rid of weeds earlier this week at Piper Creek Restoration Area. (Photo from Facebook)

Goats from Baah’d Plant Management & Reclamation helped to get rid of weeds earlier this week at Piper Creek Restoration Area. (Photo from Facebook)

Goats return to take care of weeds in Red Deer’s natural areas

‘There’s lots of great viewing opportunities as the goats do their thing’

Goats who were filling their bellies with weeds this week at Heritage Ranch and Piper Creek Restoration Area are now getting a taste of the grassy area west of Gaetz Lake Sanctuary for the next few days.

About 800 goats from Baah’d Plant Management & Reclamation are taking part in weed management in sensitive habitat areas in the city.

“The herders, the dogs, and the whole unit works really well together to keep goats off of the vegetation that we want to leave intact, and target browse to really hone in on the species we don’t want to see,” said Ken Lehman, the city’s parks ecological services operations co-ordinator, on Thursday.

The goats are currently munching on Canada thistle and toadflax outside the fence at Gaetz Lake Sanctuary and will return again to the three locations this fall.

Related:

PHOTO: Goats become living lawnmowers around Red Deer’s Kerry Wood Nature Centre

The goat program, which started as a pilot project a few years ago, has been integrated into city’s environment management plan to protect natural spaces.

“We’re seeing great results in terms of getting a handle on some of those noxious weeds. Over time you gradually shift the health of the landscape, and we’re seeing that positive shift — more ecologically healthy landscape, less noxious weeds, more native vegetation.”

Lehman said goats are perfect for processing weeds, the way their teeth grind down the plants, and how their stomachs break down leaves, stems and seeds. And they fertilize as they go.

Goats are also small, light-weight, and can be used on steep banks where it would not be safe for staff to use equipment.

Related:

Gardening: Hand pulling weeds gets the best results

He said last year 600 goats were on the job, and even though hundreds are involved in the program, the herd never looks that big. The herd includes about eight different species, with some babies.

“There’s lots of great viewing opportunities as the goats do their thing over the next couple days.”

The public is asked to stay two metres away from the herd and not to touch the goats for the protection of the animals.



szielinski@reddeeradvocate.com

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