We had a problem with Himalayan blackberries on the land we plan to grow Truffles. Truffles grow best in an invasive-free environment. In Oregon, we are overrun with blackberries. It is easy to see that our roadsides, open fields, woodlands, and backyards are becoming overrun with blackberries and invasive species. Machines often can’t get to problem areas, humans hands are very labor intensive, and herbicides are dangerous to Truffles. waterways, soil, and desired vegetation, not to mention animals and humans.
If left alone, blackberries and invasive plants will strangle our Truffles trees.
Bring on the Goats
When it comes to clearing unwanted blackberries and vegetation, goats can provide an ideal alternative to machines and herbicides. They graze in places that mowers can’t reach and humans don’t want to go (yes, they love Poison Ivy). In fact, goats eat a wide range of unwanted vegetation, which include: Himalayan blackberries, English ivy, scotch broom, acorns, salmonberry, dandelion, maple leaves, cottonwood leaves, bamboo, alder leaves, knotweed, morning glory, holly, small saplings, nettle, thistle apple trees, bamboo leaves and buds, banana trees, bay tree leaves, leaves and root of beets, bramble, cedar leaves and barks, cottonwoods, dandelions, small Douglas fir trees, ferns, entire grape plants, hibiscus, honeysuckle, jackfruit leaves, kudzu, mango leaves, maple leaves and bark, mints, mulberry plants, oak tree leaves, Kudzu, Oriental Bittersweet, Ailanthus, Multiflora Rose, and Japanese Honeysuckle.
Goat Grazing Facts:Goats were one of the first animals to be domesticated by humans about 9,000 years ago. Today, there are some 200 different breeds.
- Goats have been used by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the Bureau of Reclamation, the Bureau of Land Management, and the U.S. Forest Service. State, county and city contractors (such as the city of Seattle) have also used goats for weed and invasive species control.
- Goats love broad-leafed material, which means brush and invading field vegetation are consumed. But they don’t prefer grass, so it is left to flourish.
Corporations such as Google are using goats for vegetation management. Google wanted a clean air alternative to noisy gas-powered lawn mowers and didn’t want toxic chemicals for their weed control. Since the cost of using goats was about the same as mowing, using goats allows Google to show their commitment to low-carbon, non-toxic alternatives.
- Goats are agile and light on their feet, so they can be gentler than machinery when working on historical sites and other areas that need special consideration.
Herbicides seep into water and soil, affecting other vegetation, animals, and humans. They also can encourage mutations among vegetation, creating greater and greater problems instead of solving them.
- Goats will graze all day, going through very dense material at about a quarter acre per day per 30 goats (this can vary widely, depend on many factors including density, location and vegetation species).
- Goats respect electric fences, making this an easy and effective source of mobile containment.
- Grazing goats are very effective at eating the kinds of excessive weeds and brush that pose a risk of unwanted fires.
- Goats can be stubborn, but they are docile. When effectively led and fenced, they go only where you want them to go.
- Goats have a narrow, triangular mouth that allows them to crush what they eat, so seeds that might otherwise get passed through to fertilization are not viable. This is a true advantage since machine cutting only encourages further growth in the next growth cycle.
- Goats fertilize as they graze, then trample the fertilizer, so that the wanted grasses and other vegetation left behind are given a natural boost!
- Goats have special enzymes in their guts that allow them to eat plants that are poisonous to other animals.
- Goats have been used to graze as small a plot as 12 x 60-foot backyards and as large as 20,000 acres.
- Goats don’t like water, so it is a natural fence.
- Goats can climb, allowing them to reach invasive vegetation that grows in hard to reach places. And, since they eat vines and stems, they can graze at a lower level of a tree covered in invasives and as a result, either kill the vines systems that reach higher into the trees or reveal them so that they can be cut.
- Goats eat year round, but the best time to use goats depend on the vegetation to be removed.
- Goats will eat Christmas trees after the season has been celebrated.
- Sustainable Living Center
- 82 Siletz Highway
- Lincoln City, Or 97367