Goats in Parks: Prescribed Grazing

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Fighting invasive plants is an on-going challenge for Parks staff and volunteers. Management is not only time-consuming; it can also include the application of herbicides in an effort to win the battle. This year, Madison Parks is utilizing a new invasive plant management technique. Goats! Yes, goats!

Goats are natural grazers and enjoy snacking on invaders such as buckthorn, honeysuckle and garlic mustard, eating an average of 8 pounds of vegetation per day. This prescribed grazing is an important land management tool for natural areas and an important component of the Integrated Pest Management (IPM) plan.

Madison Parks has hired about 40 adult and young adolescent goats from a local farm to help reduce invasive species at two locations this year. Greenside Park and Acewood Conservation Park were identified and intentionally selected due to their size, terrain and overwhelming need to control invasive species.

“This is the first year for Parks to use this management technique and we are hopeful it will help us strengthen our IPM and operate more sustainably,” said Paul Quinlan, Conservation Resource Supervisor. “The prescribed grazing is planned for this spring and fall and we hope to continue this practice over the next few years to reduce the abundance of invasives.”

As part of this project, staff have developed a fact sheet with answers to the most frequently asked questions. Visit FAQ to learn more.

If you plan to view the goats, here are a few tips and safety precautions:

  • Stay quiet and view from a distance
  • Do not approach the goats
  • Do not attempt to feed, pet or otherwise interact with the goats
  • Do not touch electric fence or enter the fenced area
  • Do not gather in groups or with persons outside of your household

We hope goats will help us win this battle. Look for fun facts and stories on Parks social media over the coming weeks.

For more information visit: Parks Projects: 2020 Prescribed Grazing