Wednesday, June 20 , 2018, 4:11 pm | A Few Clouds 66º

 
 
 
 

Cate School Deploys Goats for Vegetation Management

The herd will consume invasive weeds and plants on the 150-acre Carpinteria foothills campus

A herd of 150 to 200 brush goats will be utilized to clear invasive vegetation from a 30-acre portion of the Cate School‘s 150-acre campus in the Carpinteria foothills.

The goats, delivered to a fenced-in hillside area on the northwestern slope of the school’s property, are expected to consume the plants over the next several months at a rate of two to four acres per day.

In addition, the unique vegetation management approach will provide a learning experience for students, who will help monitor progress of the herd.

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“Vegetation management is not new to Cate,” said Sandi Pierce, co-acting head of school. “In the past we’ve had to hire a crew of workers to clear growth so we could mitigate the risk of fire. What’s appealing about this method is that it’s efficient, sustainable, and that we can get interested students involved in solving a problem.”

The goats will be released on two separate days in herds of about 100 to an area that has been contained by an electrified fence. A pair of Anatolian shepherd dogs specifically trained to protect the weed-eating herd will further control the animals. The herd will consume a mixture of cape ivy, berry vines, rye grass, poison oak and chaparral.

Cate has contracted with Brush Goats 4 Hire, based in Buellton, for the project. The company provides the service to individuals, businesses and government agencies looking for an environmentally friendly solution to vegetation management.

“We have no doubt that this is a great solution for Cate,” said Lorraine Argo, who co-owns Brush Goats 4 Hire with her husband, Ian Newsam. “The results can be quite dramatic, since the goats literally eat their way up the hillside. They cover ground quite fast.”

Members of Cate’s Environmental Club will be trained to help with the project. Students will assist in tracking groups of goats using a GPS device, help with daily livestock monitoring and maintenance, and record herd consumption levels.

“We’re pleased that students will become an important part of the project,” Argo said. “It’s a great opportunity for them to learn about an innovative approach for vegetation management and invasive species removal for Southern California.”

“The goats will be a fixture in our community for a few months,” Pierce added. “We’re confident that they will be effective, and that our students will have a novel educational experience. We’re all really quite excited about it.”

— Don Orth is the director of communications for Cate School.

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