When it comes to the fight against invasive plant species, a new and exciting method is proving to be quite useful. This method is known as targeted goat grazing, and it has been used successfully, including by the City of Kamloops.
Basically, targeted grazing involves using goats to munch on and kill weeds. Examples of weeds that have been controlled using this method include plumeless thistle (Carduus acanthoides), knapweeds (Centaurea spp.), and Canada thistle (Cirsium arvense).
The reason why this method is thought to be so effective is because once a plant is grazed on, it loses it’s flowers and leaves, and cannot go to seed or do photosynthesis.
This means that the plant can’t reproduce or grow. Goat excrement is also an excellent fertilizer and therefore targeted grazing not only gets rid of weeds, it also encourages the growth of grasses and other native species.
The Boundary Invasive Species Society and the Regional District of Kootenay Boundary are now asking the question—can targeted grazing be used to control hoary alyssum (Berteroa incanum). Hoary alyssum has become such a problem species within the Boundary, and despite all efforts, it is still extremely invasive. Therefore, any method that can be used to control hoary alyssum must be explored!
So far, initial trial runs suggest that targeted goat grazing can indeed be used against hoary alyssum, as goats will munch on both the flowers and the leaves of this weed.
How effective the grazing is in the long-term is not yet known. And although hoary alyssum is known to be toxic to some livestock, so far no health problems have surfaced within these test runs.
If you’re interested in learning more about targeted grazing using goats, come out to a free workshop on Aug. 10 at the Regional District of the Kootenay Boundary office in Grand Forks at 10 a.m.
To sign up for this workshop, contact the Boundary Invasive Species Society at 250-446- 2232 or firstname.lastname@example.org.