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Controlling Invasive Plants with Goats

Creature Control has made a business of controlling nuisance wildlife and managing insect pests for residential and commercial clients. Of course, there is another kind of nuisance species that can detract from the enjoyment and usability of property – that is nuisance vegetation.

Poison ivy. Stinging nettles. Various types of thorn bushes. Those obnoxious plants that sting, poke, give you rashes, or just get in the way. Managing these species can be a pain;  they are very resilient, and often times they grow back faster than they can be controlled. Faced with the challenge, many home owners  simply give up and yield portions of property back to the wilderness.

Fortunately, that does not need to be the end of the story. As is often the case, the best solution to nuisance vegetation is to go back to the tried-and-true methods of the past –  goats!

Nuisance-Goats-2Goats have had a bad reputation. Their appetites are legendary, as is their proneness to escaping. But their appetites can also be a great benefit. Goats will munch on all those irritating nuisance plants – thorns, poison ivy, brambles, it doesn’t matter. Goats will devour that stuff, making them ideal for reducing unwanted vegetation. Goats also prefer leafy vegetation instead of grasses. This makes them ideal to use in conjunction with other grazing animals, such as sheep. Goats will follow along and clean out the leafier plants that other grazing animals will not touch.

All over the country, homeowners are turning to sheep to clean out overgrown areas of their property. And because the demand is there, innovative companies are springing up all over offering “goats for rent” services to help homeowners. Many homeowners prefer goats because they are ecologically sound – and they fertilize the ground while they munch!

Larger institutions are catching on as well. Western Michigan University recently hired goats to control invasive plants. Nick Gooch, a horticulturist at WMU, said, “The previous management tactics we have been using are heavy machinery, hand tools, herbicides, and we were not seeing progress and improvement.” Instead, the University rented a group of goats to start eating down the unwanted vegetation. The goats offered an management solution that was both ecologically sound and more effective than chemical treatments.

Goats are increasingly being used all around the country to clear out unwanted vegetation from airports, university campuses, and other commercial properties. If you haven’t seen goats munching down nuisance vegetation in your area, chances are you will in the near future!

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