Parks turn to goats for weed control
Meal is on city; herd provides the trimmings
By Tillie Fong | Rocky Mountain News
A herd of goats sample the fare Wednesday at Babi Yar Park at South Havana Street and East Yale Avenue. Denver has contracted to use the goats to control noxious weeds in the City's wild areas. After their work is completed at Babi Yar, the herd will will be moved to other parks including areas along Cherry Creek.
Goats outnumbered humans Wednesday at Babi Yar Park.
A herd of 105 cashmere goats from Alpine, Wyo., will take charge of weed control at the park at East Yale Avenue and South Havana Street for the next three weeks.
"They look happy," Judy Montero, spokeswoman for the Denver Parks and Recreation Department, said of the goats.
After their work is done at Babi Yar, the herd will move on to other parks, including areas along Cherry Creek and the South Platte River.
:The goats are part of a city program funded with $50,000 in grants, to restore and protect wild areas.
"When you have a, noxious weed it will grow and dominate an area and smother the other grasses that need to be there" Montero said.
Mowers only spreads noxious weeds when they go to seed. By using goats, the weeds are eliminated before they have a chance to seed.
"By utilizing goat herds, we're able to reduce the use of pesticides." Montero said.
"Goats are also more efficient because they first go after the noxious stuff: the diffuse weed, the spotted knapweed, the leafy spurge, and dandelions.
"It's like Easter candy to us" Montero Said.
While they're nibbling away at the weeds, they also turn up the dirt, thus preparing the ground for another task.
"We're planning to scatter seeds of desirable grasses and the goats will trample the seeds into the ground and fertilize as they go, " said Fred Lamming, 41, of Jackson Hole, Wyo., who owns the herd.
The herd is restricted by a portable nylon mesh fence, which is electrified at night to protect them from predators.
"They have two grazing cycles," Lamming said. "In the morning, they get their bellies full. They get a siesta, and they get back out in the afternoon and do another feeding."
Lamming and his family -wife Lani, 41, and sons Reggie Benz, 16, and Donnie Benz, 15, and Levi Painter 16- are managing the herd this week with help of Spanky, a border collie.