Prescribed Browsing Project

by | Jul 7, 2021 | Parks Department

The eco goats have returned for another year!

  • Paul Busman volunteer veterinarian who has donated time and material to this program for years
  • Our many volunteers who check on the goats daily to make sure they are behaving
  • Friends of Ottawa County Parks for their ongoing support of this project

Learn more about the Prescribed Browsing Project and check out some before and after photos below!

Photo by Mike Lozon

Why goats?

Goats aren’t picky eaters. They eat the woody, shrub-like invasive plants (and everything else), as well as pesky poison ivy, without any negative affect. Utilizing this innovative yet simple method reduces the need for heavy herbicide application, which is cost-effective for the department. It also allows access to locations where mowers or machinery could otherwise not reach. Goats grazing simulate mowing, which can initially stimulate growth. However, repeat “applications” of grazing goats has shown to eliminate 90% of invasive, woody plants over three years.  The goats aren’t able to eradicate unwanted plants, but they push them back enough that an herbicide follow-up treatment is possible and effective.

This is a video City Of Holland, Michigan – City Hall put together about the Prescribed Browsing Project. Check it out to learn what our Eco Goats are all about.

BEFORE

Eastmanville Bayou before goat treatment (2011) – completely overrun with oriental bittersweet. It was quickly becoming a mono-culture of bittersweet. You can’t tell, but this photo was taken along the Grand River.

Oriental bittersweet can “girdle” and eventually pull down fully grown trees.

Student volunteers from Allendale Public Schools at Eastmanville Bayou trying to pull bittersweet wrapped around trees.

AFTER

Eastmanville Bayou after goat treatment in 2017. At first glance, you can actually see the Grand River! You may also notice a diversity of species that has filled in the area.

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