Goats’ grazing skills studied for invasive species management

Data pix.

MARTINSVILLE, Ind. -- A local farmer wants to make grazing goats more mainstream and is doing research that she believes could help Hoosier landowners.

Katlin Hossom teamed up with an arborist and IU’s outdoor center, Bradford Woods, to do the study. She’s studying her goats’ grazing skills, to see if they can be used to cut down on invasive species of plants.

“They are everywhere, and they are taking over the native plants and it is a problem because the native plants are the plants that support the native wildlife,” Hossom said.

Her research aims to figure out which plants goats will eat, how quickly they will eat them and what their impact is on other plants in the area.

Bradford Woods was so pleased with the first results they brought the goats back to graze on another patch.

"It was just kind of creeping into the edge of the lawn you know we could Bush Hog it or chainsaw it or knock it down but we were looking at economical or eco-friendly ways to approach management of that,” said Clay Chafin, director of Bradford Woods.

They're finding goats aren't a perfect solution because they don't wipe out all the plants completely.

"They do a great job of opening things up and clearing it but the plants are re-sprouting. We don't know how much will come back or how much kill off we have of those plants that's being researched,” Hossom said.

Hossom is also now turning it into a business and hopes landowners consider goats instead of turning to herbicides. She works for an Iowa company called "Goats on the Go" and she brings her goats to people. She brings her herd and sets up a fence to keep them contained.

“People call me they say, 'Hey, we have plants, or we have a space in our backyard or we own X number of acres,'" Hossom said.

Hossom says a half acre of land takes between three to five days.

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