A Goat Alternative To Weed Control

Entrance To Long Pasture Wildlife Sanctuary in West Barnstable

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If you have ever thought about “green” alternatives to weed control, you have probably run across the term “goat-scaping”. It’s a simple concept that has grown in popularity in recent years in areas like the Cape where pesticides are not always the answer to controlling invasive species of plants. There are actually companies and farms that will “rent” a flock of goats to clear pastures and yards. One of these businesses is Goat Green Cape Cod based in Centerville. 

The Long Pasture Wildlife Sanctuary (Massachusetts Audubon) in Barnstable  partnered with Goat Green Cape Cod to help manage their paths and fields. In addition, they offered a few “Meet The Goat” educational events this summer where the public was invited to meet the goats, walk them on leashes, learn about their voracious vegetarian diets and what it takes to raise (or rent) goats. Goat Green Cape Cod is owned by Stacey Greaves and started when she rescued four goats from Western Mass and brought them home to the Cape in 2014. She now has 2 flocks of goats that she can rotate to properties around the Cape for various jobs. 

At the “Meet The Goats” event we also met Ian Ivers from The Long Pasture Wildlife Sanctuary who was happy to tell our little group about the sanctuary and how the goats are now playing an important role in keeping the invasive vegetation under control. What will goats eat? Pucker brush, brambles, blackberry vines… Grass, trees, weeds like goldenrod and  wild grape vines… and yes, poison ivy! There are some species of plants that can make the goats sick, but they are intelligent enough to avoid most problem plants. 

We had a small and diverse group of people on this day’s tour. One of the women recently discovered poison ivy had taken over part of her yard. She looked into several options for removing or killing the poison ivy, but kept coming back to pesticides, which she did not want to use. It was her doctor that suggested she look into goats. Another woman in our group had already made the decision to purchase her own goats, but wanted a little more insight to the care for goats. Others in the group, like myself, we simply curious and wanted to see what goatscaping was all about. 

The Goat Green Goats were put on leashes and we were off for a unique walk through the paths of the Sanctuary. It was like walking the goats through an all-you-can-eat buffet! Every few steps the goats would stop and pull themselves over to leafy patches and dense vegetation. The were clearly more interested in eating than walking, which gave Stacy time to tell us about each of her goats.  The goats were friendly and seemed comfortable around the young children in our tour group. Stacey told us that some of her goats even make visits as therapy animals!

Are you curious? Yes, you can rent a flock of her goats. Stacey will deliver them and set up a perimeter with a low voltage temporary fence and check on her goats as often as needed until the clearing is complete. Although each job varies, the average cost to hire Stacey’s goats is $150/day for a flock of 6 goats. (Again, this is an AVERAGE cost. Each job is unique and Stacey will determine cost once all aspects of a job are explored). 

Although there are no more goat tours at The Long Pasture Wildlife Sanctuary, you can contact Goat Green Cape Cod through there website. I also strongly suggest taking an afternoon to tour the Mass Audubon properties in the area and learn about our native wildlife on Cape Cod.

About Cat Wilson

Cat Wilson is "That Girl" on Cape Country 104 – a Cape Cod native and longtime Cape radio personality. She is a passionate supporter of Military and Veteran causes on the Cape and also hosts local music spotlight program, “The Cheap Seats” on Ocean 104.7.

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