Goat grazing is a cost effective, ecologically sound way to clear land and promote growth of native grasses and beneficial plants, particularly for large acreages and difficult terrain. It has been proven to efficiently handle areas that are inaccessible or difficult to manage with mowers, areas where burns are inadvisable, and sensitive areas where the application of herbicides is not appropriate.
Yellow star thistle is named for its bright thistle-like flowers, which have sharp spines surrounding their base. It is a long-lived annual and is found at elevations of 7000 feet or less. It grows anywhere from 6 inches to 5 feet tall. Most of the plant's seeds germinate within a year of disbursement, yet some can stay viable for up to 3 years.
Goat grazing is a highly effective way of reducing star thistle and star thistle seed production. Goats will eat the plants in all stages, including after the spines form. Quite surprisingly, goats like thistle - it is one of the first plants they will eat when present. Intensive grazing managed over time by goats provides positive and successful results in the eradication of star thistle.
Aggressive noxious weeds like thistle bring problems as they displace beneficial plants, and reduce habitat and recreational value. Goat grazing is also an effective method for control of other weed species such as Spurge, Nettles, Purple Star thistle, Artichoke thistle, Poison Ivy and Poison Oak. Whereas human contact with Poison Oak or Poison Ivy can cause an allergic reaction in humans, goats relish them and are highly effective at eradicating this weed.
Other plants goats like to eat include: Vetch, Yellow and Purple Star Thistle, Bull Thistle, French Broom, Mustard, Himalayan Blackberry, Coyote Bush, Ivy, Pine and Oak Saplings, Poison Oak, Eucalyptus Saplings, Poison Hemlock, Sage, Ivy, and most grasses.
A riparian area is one that is located on the bank of a natural waterway, such as a river or lake. By carefully managing grazing in riparian areas, healthy plants will build strong stream banks. Permanent vegetative cover provides the most effective way to reduce soil erosion. Raindrops, for example, lose some of their force when they land on plants. They run off the vegetation down to the ground rather than pounding the soil at their full velocity. More water soaks into the ground instead of running off, which helps to eliminate soil erosion.
Root systems of beneficial plants hold soil in place and filter contaminants. These root systems allow water to flow more clearly as impurities are filtered out before reaching ground water. Grazing management also minimizes vegetation growth and blockage of natural waterways. Grazing with goats encourages a healthy watershed and reduces pollution in our lakes, rivers and streams - and we all benefit from clean water!
Mountain, valley, desert or coast, we must preserve the wonder that is California!
Goats eat "hot fuel," the spindly plants that grow under trees and allow fire to spread quickly. Unlike other animals, goats are naturally adapted to eating weeds, brush, thistles and invasive plants. They have evolved their own razing mechanisms for digesting and processing even the most noxious of weeds. Fuel load reduction with goats is accomplished by the use of a temporary electric fence. This standard farm fencing enables us to control the goats' grazing pattern.