Energy & Environment

120 Goats Will Be Mowing The Grass At The Houston Arboretum

The goats are part of a pilot-program to test out a more eco-friendly solution to conservation management.

A herd of goats will help mow the slopes around the two Woodway ponds at the Houston Arboretum & Nature Center.

A herd of goats is headed to the Houston Arboretum & Nature Center to help mow the grass and eat invasive species, as part of a pilot program to test out a more eco-friendly approach to conservation management that doesn’t require commercial mowing or herbicides.

"We wanted to find alternate ways and fun ways that we could manage the ecosystem, and see, how do these goats really impact the ecosystem and how is it different from what we do?" said Christine Mansfield with the Houston Arboretum.

In the past, herds of bison roamed the region's prairies. They acted as natural landscapers, grazing the land and keeping it in a grassland state.

While bison are too complicated to bring back, goats can serve the same role, according to Mansfield.

She said in addition to mowing the prairie grasses, the goats also like to eat invasive species.

"There are certain things invasive species wise that are just next to impossible to control without some sort of herbicide. But obviously, as a natural space and as a place where we want to really have thriving plant and animal communities, we try and do as little of that as possible," said Mansfield. "We want to see if the goats are a natural solution to removing some of these things because that’s what they do naturally, they go after these species and they really enjoy eating them."

Goats naturally like to eat invasive species and can help clear overgrown slopes at the Houston Arboretum.

The goats can also access places that are hard for humans to get to, like the muddy and overgrown slopes of the Arboretum's ponds.

"They're great at climbing hills; they're great at being in muddier areas. They can do a lot of things that we just can't," said Mansfield.

The company Rent-A-Ruminant Texas will be providing 120 goats to the Houston Arboretum from October 4-10. The goats will be in a 1.5 acre section around the North and South Woodway ponds. Visitors will be able to watch them at work, but not interact with them.

Mansfield said if the pilot program is successful the goats might return later in the fall or spring.

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