Last August I posted some photos from a field tour in Austria where we saw an organic Christmas tree farm that used Shropshire sheep as their principle form of weed control. The particular breed of sheep is suited to the task since they will graze on grass and weeds but not on conifers. Since then I have shared the pictures elsewhere and found out the Shropshire sheep are also employed in the U.S. and the U.K. for similar purposes. Recently, I have had several people share websites for a service known as ‘Rent-a-Ruminant’. As with the Shropshire sheep, these services use grazers to control vegetation, but instead of sheep these companies use goats.
Unlike sheep, goats are much less selective grazers; so call these guys in when you’re in need of land-clearing or invasive species removal. I have seen Rent-a-Rumant advertised in the Pacific Northwest http://www.rentaruminant.com/goats-clear-land.html and in Australia http://thebegavalley.org.au/24484.html so clearly this is a widespread idea. And, I suppose, an example of an old idea that’s new again. As many GP blog readers probably know, I have issues with the ethics (not to mention efficacy) of exploiting grade-school children to pull garlic mustard or purple loosestrife in the name of invasive species control. But using goats to control invasives? That might be a solution everyone can get behind
Not baaaad work if you can get. Rental ruminants chomping on English ivy in the Northwest. (Just for you, Linda)