Today Red Deer welcomed 400 goats to Piper Creek Gardens where they enjoyed a main course of Canada thistle with a side of yellow toadflax, which are invasive plants in the area.
The community was invited to meet the goats and chat with City staff about weed control and the management of ecologically sensitive areas in parks and green spaces in the city. The goats’ herder, from BAAH’D Plant Management & Reclamation, was on site to answer any questions about the goats and their work.
“The goats are weed eating machines,” said Ken Lehman, Ecological Services Operations Coordinator for The City. “They are trained to eat the target weed species and leave other native vegetation alone. Using the goats to manage weeds helps us achieve our goal set out in the Environmental Master Plan to reduce the amount of chemical herbicides and pesticides used to manage our landscapes.”
This year the goats will be on site for about 24 hours browsing their way across the one-acre parcel. The goats are ideal to work in the Piper Creek area because of the ecologically sensitive and challenging terrain. There are areas that people and machines can’t safely reach; however, the goats can climb the steep slopes and cross unstable ground swiftly and safely.
“The timing of the goats’ visit is carefully planned,” said Lehman. “Their visit coincides with the lifecycle of the plants. Nipping the plant at the bud stage, when it is most vulnerable, helps minimize further spread of the weed.”
Last year, The City employed 200 goats to work in the same area. This year, with twice as many goats we hope they will be able to cover the area quickly, working to defoliate the weeds to allow room for healthy growth of other native grasses and plants. It’s important to understand that working with the goats is a multi-year process. They will continue to browse in the same area, year after year, wearing away at the plants' root system to reduce or even eradicate weed populations. This is good news for Red Deerians who missed visiting our furry friends this year; they will be ba-a-a-a-a-ck!
For more information about The City’s weed management strategies visit www.reddeer.ca/weeds
For more information, please contact:
Ecological Services Operations Coordinator
The City of Red Deer
Communications & Strategic Planning
The City of Red Deer