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Goats become ‘eating machines’ to tackle prickly pest

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Goats become ‘eating machines’ to tackle prickly pest

Goats are being trialled as a instrument to assist eradicate blackberries and scale back using herbicides for controlling the invasive weed.

Blackberry, a weed of nationwide significance, can develop in very prickly, impenetrable thickets and attain as much as 7 metres in peak.

As one of South Australia’s declared vegetation, blackberry threatens main manufacturing by invading bushland and pastures, with landowners legally answerable for coping with vegetation on their property.

Most livestock will not eat blackberry vegetation and so they can rapidly take over native vegetation, dominating the bottom and cover round them.

That is the case for the native reserves in Victor Harbor on the south coast of SA’s Fleurieu Peninsula.

Whereas herbicides are the most typical management methodology for blackberries in Australia, residents have requested the Metropolis of Victor Harbor to cut back its use of chemical weed killers.

The council’s chief govt Victoria MacKird stated its surroundings staff urged trialling using goats for controlling the pest.

Goat proprietor and handler Ben Peterson was requested to carry his staff of Boer goats to a Mount Jagged reserve for the trial.

“They are a good instrument in weed management,” he stated.

Mr Peterson has two herds of goats that spend their time on properties throughout the Fleurieu and Adelaide Hills, munching their means via blackberry bushes for personal landowners.

This was the primary time they’ve been utilized by a council.

Mac, Invoice, Bob, Charlie and Bernie had been positioned in an space of the reserve impacted by blackberries and set to work consuming the blackberry bushes.

The 5 goats spent the subsequent few weeks contained inside short-term electrical fencing to restrict the prospect of inadvertently spreading the weed.

The council is presently evaluating the goat trial however Ms MacKirdy says the goats proved to be a well-liked addition to the council workforce.

Goats as weed managers

The Metropolis of Melbourne trialled using goats to regulate weeds final yr together with a college research.

It adopted some smaller Victorian councils and a few cemeteries turning to goats for weed management.

Mr Peterson says using goats to sort out blackberry bushes has proved widespread significantly with folks wanting a extra pure method and in areas with steep terrain.

A man holds a young goat, feeding it a sprig from a blackberry bush
Ben Peterson and Bella the trainee blackberry management goat.(ABC Information: Caroline Horn)

He acquired his first goats two years in the past after needing to discover a new profession following a hip substitute.

After some trial and error, he has settled on the calm and tame Boer goat — which is generally bred for meat — and says he now has the most effective workers who won’t ever find yourself on a plate.

“These huge boys, they’re simply consuming machines,” Mr Peterson stated.

“They work 24/7 and so they do not complain.”

The goats grind a lot of the seeds within the blackberries, which minimises the dangers of the weeds spreading.

As soon as they’ve eaten away many of the blackberry bushes the remaining stalks could be mulched or sprayed and the goats can return to eat any regrowth.

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