Brush Eating Goats Eat Their way Through Parts of Wyalusing State Park


Goats Eating their Way Through Wyalusing State Park
  Hazelton Brush Goats are literally eating their way through part of Wyalusing State Park. In cooperation with Driftless Land Stewarship, LLC, about 20 acres of wooded brush is being “managed” by 75 hungry goats. An electrified three-foot fence surrounds the area between the Paul Lawrence Interpretive Center and the Outdoor Group Camp.
Hazelton Goats eat Canada Goldenrod, Garlic mustard, Prickly ash, Reed Canary Grass, Dewberry, Multiflora Rose, Canada Thistle, Red Cedar, buckthorn honeysuckle, etc. Basically everything within reach, even while standing on its hind feet. “The herd will clear the area of this size within a month”, said a Driftless Land Stwardship, LLC employee. Goats eat 25 percent of their body weight each day.
Managing the grazing area helps to expose previously shaded areas to the sun, thus, restoring to natural prairie.  Driftless Land Stewardship staff installed solar powered electrical fencing,  watering area and shelter.  The fence keeps the goats in and predators out.  Coyotes and domestic dogs are probably the most common predators.
Goats are smoke-free, solar powered, and a quiet alternative to prescribed burning, brush mowing and herbicides. Goats have a narrow, triangular mouth that allows them to crush what they eat, so seeds that might otherwise get passed through to fertilization are not viable. This is a true advantage, since machine cutting only encourages further growth in the next growth cycle. Goats have special enzymes in their guts that allow them to eat plants that are poisonous to other animals.
“Even if a few of the goats should escape, they will stay within the area, close to the herd, shelter and water”, said the herd manager, Jaye Maxfield.  Mansfield is co-owner, ecologist and rx Fire director for Driftless Land Stewardship. The other co-owner is Jesse Bennet. Bennet was raised in Bagley, Wi. Driftless Land Stewardship, LLC has been in this area since its formation, in 2006.
Visit Wyalusing State Park frequently to check the goats’ progress in clearing this plot of land. Of course, you can also check the progress on this blog and facebook.
Additional photos.