Instead of using lawn mowers to keep grasses short in county-owned basins where brush is out of control, some Sacramento County residents have a novel idea: use goats.
In the 10-acre Wilhaggin basin, dozens of goats are grazing and keeping insects away as part of a pilot program. Kevin Siu, Associate Engineer at the Sacramento County Department of Water Resources, said, “We kind of took a look at what other jurisdictions had been doing, and time and again we found that goats have been used on a more and more frequent basis. Therefore, we figured ‘why don’t we test out goats for our needs and see if they work for us as well?'”
Lawn mowers leaving the grass on the ground could pose a fire threat, but using goats to graze obviates that possibility. One property owner in the basin named Olympias said, “This way it’s more like going in and removing the grasses and brush instead of mowing it and leaving a bunch of fuel lying on the ground. It’s what the goats are really all about. They help everything return to the way it should be, [and] it does also help with vector control.” She added:
We basically got a few goats years ago just to get rid of the blackberries, because we had cattle. And the goats just kind of, everybody was like, ‘Oh I want some of those goats. Can you bring those goats over here?’ So then we started doing just target little spots for local ranchers to help with berry bushes and the noxious weeds that are in the pastures. To keep the goats healthy all year, it’s a lot. Our breeding program is to raise goats for brush control. We’re breeding for a really hearty nanny, one that produces good size kids, milk’s good, has good feet, and has good maternal qualities.
The goats will be bred in the fall to produce more goats for the spring.