goats can eradicate noxious weeds
by Janelle Holden| Cortez Journal
Staff Writer | October 1, 2006
|Cashmere goats, owned
by Lani Lamming, do their work – eating noxious
weeds – at an undisclosed location. Lamming’s
goats are used to rid areas of invasive, non-native
species of plants that often resist other forms of eradication.
Socrates died from eating poisonous hemlock, but Lani Lamming’s
goats love it.
On a daily basis, her 2,000 cashmere goats annihilate even
the most toxic, noxious and prickly of weeds.
Lamming, founder of Ewe4ic Ecological Services in Alpine,
Wyo., was in Cortez June 11 to speak to the Mancos and Dolores
soil conservation districts.
Lamming, her husband, Fred, and her sons Reggie and Donny
Benz have developed a profitable, environmentally sound alternative
to the normal practice of controlling noxious weeds with pesticides
A former cattle rancher, Lamming obtained a master’s
degree in weed science at Colorado State University, where
she conducted research on how sheep eat weeds. Her research
led her to goats, which eat more types of weeds at a faster
pace than sheep.
After graduating from CSU, Lamming bought 100 cashmere goats
and has built the herd to 2,000 over the four years she has
been selling their services to landowners with weed-infested
As in Montezuma County, weeds are a problem across the West.
It is estimated that invasive species take over 4,600 acres
of land per day and 1.5 million acres per year, Lamming said.
They destroy animal habitat, increase erosion, create fire
hazards and decrease land values. Many states, counties and
cities – including the city of Durango and La Plata
County – mandate that landowners control noxious weeds
on their property.
Unlike cattle and horses, goats prefer weeds over lush grasses.
Goats can also reach the more difficult places where weeds
grow – cracks in rocks, steep hillsides and beneath
bridges and highway overpasses. With intensive grazing over
several years, goats can eliminate even the most aggressive
weeds, including leafy spurge, purple loosestrife and musk
thistle, Lamming said.
"The weeds are smarter than the plants, the goats are smarter
than the weeds, and the only thing smarter than the goats
is a border collie," said Lamming.
Lamming said she has never advertised her service; word
of mouth has managed to build a lucrative business. Her clients
have included the city of Denver, the towns of Meeker and
Parker, and the Vail and Breckenridge resorts as well as public-land
managers in several states.
Lamming used to charge by the acre, but now she charges
per goat, from 25 cents to $2 per day, plus goats transportation
Although Lamming doesn’t own land, she has never had
to buy feed or supplements for her goats. They will eat weeds
at any time of the year, she said, but the best time for grazing
is the fall and winter when the weeds are down.
When the goats have finished their assignment, Lamming reseeds
the newly turned soil with natural grasses fertilized by the
goats’ waste. Any extra "fertilizer" is bagged and sold
to organic farmers. The waste is not contaminated with seeds
because of the unique shape of goats’ mouths and their
powerful digestive enzymes.
Lamming said any type of goat will eat weeds, but she chose
cashmere because of their "handleability" and wool product.
The cashmere from the goats is sold for $15 an ounce.
By Janelle Holden
Cortez Journal Staff Writer
American Profile http://www.swcoloradohome.com/articles/gardening/goats.asp