The Valley Reporter – Goats and sheep graze on knotweed at several locations in the Valley

Go big or go home, as the saying goes, and those who bring goats and sheep to The Valley to graze on knotweed are going big.

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Carole Parker, Warren and pastoralist Mary Beth Hebert founded Mad Goat, an LLC supporting the efforts of the Warren, Waitsfield and Fayston conservation commissions to manage invasive knotweed in the Mad River and The Valley watershed.

This week, Parker reported that Mad Goat is now the proud owner of nine goats (four pregnant with likely twins), renting 48 more goats and 19 sheep. The goats/sheep arrived in The Valley on May 19.

“So we manage three herds, a total of 76 and probably ten more children. And we have a really cute livestock trailer,” Parker said.

The herd of 48 goats is now established on the old Fairgrounds property, above and behind Lareau Swim Hole, and will likely reside in rotating paddocks on that large property. These animals come from Hunger Moon Farm, a Fairfield farm with pasture-raised meat goats serving local communities.

“We purchased the small herd of nine from another local Vermont farmer. They are currently at the private landowner’s site in Waitsfield as they come out of the closet. Once the kids come, this herd will be moved to Riverside Park and Wabanaki in Warren (Sugarbush snow pond) and perhaps elsewhere to work on smaller knotweed management areas. The plan is for all goats to graze each region three times during the season. We then hope to overwinter the small herd so we can start next year with some expert knotweed grazers,” Parker explains.

She said the flock of 19 sheep is rented from Chuda Dhaurali of Dhaurali Goats and they are doing well.

“I learned that sheep graze close to the ground, so concentrate on the grass first. Goats, on the other hand, graze and are voracious knotweed eaters,” says Parker.

After this first season of using ruminants to help manage knotweed, Parker and Hebet plan to turn their LLC into a nonprofit organization, taking in males and other animals from local dairy farms and training them as grazers to support knotweed control in the Mad River Valley. attempt.

“We hope to find grants or other ‘goat ambassador’ ventures that could allow us to build a sustainable grazing business here in The Valley and develop a blueprint for a new agricultural opportunity that will benefit the Vermont environment, farmers in Vermont and benefits grazing animals. We are relying on donations from the Tri-Town Conservation Commission’s fundraising campaign through Friends of the Mad River and are also making our own capital investments to launch this effort. We will also seek in-kind donations in the form of low-cost equipment and feed to sustain our herd,” she added.

Parker hopes some goats will join her in the Warren Fourth of July parade for a “Goats Knot Weeds” float.

“I have learned that knotweed is a major threat to Vermont’s riparian environment, causing erosion of rivers and streams as well as damage to infrastructure. “I am really excited about the tri-city knotweed pilot and whether grazing animals can help manage this problem in The Valley and beyond,” she added.

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