Goats chew through noxious weeds | RecordCourier.com

Goats chew through noxious weeds

A Boer goat browses on whitetop, an invasive weed near Mud Lake on Monday.
Jim Grant | The Record-Courier

Goats have a reputation for eating anything, but Weed Warrior’s Gloria Montero said that isn’t true.

“Goats are browsers,” she said. “They don’t put their heads down. They don’t care for grass. They generally eat leaves from trees and bushes.”

But what they really like is perennial pepperweed, better known in noxious weed circles as tall white top.

A herd of 100 goats just finished devouring 7.5 tons of white top, hoary cress and Canada thistle from around Mud Lake south of Gardnerville.

This is the second time in three years the goats have been used to treat the section of public land.

Montero said that goats enjoy eating white top almost as much as they like chewing on willow trees.

She said the goats can help eliminate noxious weeds, but it is not an overnight process.

“It takes a long time,” she said. “Most weed people will tell you they work on containing and controlling weeds. Eradication usually doesn’t happen.”

She said her goats have worked on about 5,000 acres in the 11 years since she first ran them on the Kings Canyon burn in 2007.

U.S. Forest Service Rangeland Management Specialist Courtney Ghiglieri said Montero has worked on the 40-acre Mud Lake site for a couple of years.

“She brings out her goats and sets up pens over the areas where we want her to graze the goats,” she said.

All three of the main weeds take over areas from native species, reducing forage for native animals.

“There is kind of a wetland out there that is critical to wildlife species,” she said. “There are mule deer, ground nesting birds and owls. It is a pretty important habitat.”

Browsing down the weeds is just the first step in clearing them out of the field.

After that the Forest Service applies an aquatic approved herbicide to help prevent the weeds from coming back.

Montero is a Lovelock resident who was born and raised in Fallon.

“I’ve been raising goats all my life,” she said.

Her Boer goats are guarded from coyotes and other predators by a Great Pyrenees dog.