Goats complete weed removal duty in Carson
June 15, 2007
Goats brought to west Carson City to help control weeds have completed their grazing work and were taken away Saturday.
About 120 doe and kid goats spent two weeks at Quill Ranch, land near Kings Canyon owned by the city, eating Russian knapweed and cheatgrass.
“They’ve done a good job,” said Ann Bollinger, the city’s open space assistant.
What the animals do is referred to among land management professionals as “prescription grazing.”
The animals are monitored more carefully than they would be during normal feeds so they thin down or remove certain types of noxious – harmful, poisonous or unpleasant – vegetation.
Oakland, Calif., budgets for grazing each year because of fire dangers, for example, she said.
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Removing a certain plant or weed to keep it from overrunning native vegetation is another reason for prescriptive grazing.
Russian knapweed is considered “detrimental or destructive and difficult to control or eradicate,” according to the University of Nevada Reno Cooperative Extension.
And cheatgrass is highly flammable.
Control or management of noxious plants is also required by state law, Bollinger said.
The goats were brought by Gloria Montero of Fallon-based Weed Warriors, the same contractor who watched over goats grazing in the same area last summer.
Montero will be paid $3 to $4 for each adult goat’s work per day.
The grazing is followed up with a chemical treatment later in the year.
Before-and-after comparisons indicate the goat-chemical double whammy conducted last year has reduced the amount of knapweed in the area by more than half and in some sections by nearly three-quarters, Bollinger said.
Last year, the goats covered about 10 acres total in that area and it took them almost four weeks. Last year’s progress translated into less time required for the goats to graze this year and reduced the area needing grazing to about eight acres, she said.
Cost for sheep to graze in the western hills of Carson during April and May of this year was less than $12,000, not counting time expended by city staff.
Most of the money goes to Resource Concepts Inc., a company that been studying grazing and its effects.
The state paid for a portion of the total – $4,500, according to Bollinger.
Goats eat cheatgrass later in the season than sheep and enjoy eating a wider variety of plants, she said.
• Contact reporter Terri Harber at tharber @nevadaappeal.com or 882-2111, ext. 215.