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Targeted grazing: using goats for weed control

 
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During 2016 and 2017 a herd of goats were used to control weeds in a portion of Confluence Park as part of a pilot program to look at the practice of targeted grazing. The goats helped to encourage biodiversity, the growth of native vegetation and enhanced health in this natural area. This pilot was part of an integrated approach to managing invasive species.

Specific successes of the pilot program included:

  • The goats grazed on the majority of the target invasive species.
  • Goats were able to safely access hard to reach areas (e.g. unstable steep slopes, bluffs, dense vegetation, rock piles and riparian areas).
  • The shepherd was able to mobilize, over-night the goats and gain access to drinking water in the park with no issues.
  • The shepherd was able to keep control of the goats and herd them using dogs and horses.
  • Responses from the public and interactions with parks users were generally positive.

Now that we know it can work, we’re looking for organizations who can help us implement this program.

Next steps

Council approved an amendment to the Parks and Pathways bylaw to allow for alternative land management tools, such as livestock, to manage vegetation within City lands. We are exploring continuation of the grazing program and are looking for organizations who can provide target grazing weed control or vegetation management using livestock. This may include goats, sheep, etc.

If you’re interested in taking part in this program please visit www.merx.com where you can set up an account and express your interest.

Why we used targeted grazing

Targeted grazing has proven to be an effective land management tool in other municipalities. It is cost effective, and offers numerous benefits, including:

  • an environmentally friendly and effective method to manage invasive plant species; and
  • a feasible solution for controlling weeds near water bodies and on slopes.

It is important that Calgary Parks and park users comply with The City of Calgary Land Use Bylaw and The Responsible Pet Ownership Bylaw. We are able to use target grazing because of a specific exemption for The City of Calgary that permits livestock grazing on City-owned land.

Frequently Asked Questions

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Target Grazing FAQ

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