Healing Hooves. I’m Greg Martin with today’s Line On Agriculture.
Weeds. Is there anything more persistent or more annoying? Ag producers across the board spend way too much time and money fighting this on going battle. Craig Madsen, owner of Healing Hooves has a very special way of selectively dealing with many types of weeds.
MADSEN: Essentially a vegetation management business. I use goats for managing weeds or brush because their preference is, they kind of like the broadleaf plants and also brush and use them a lot for – in western Washington we use them a lot for doing blackberries and that kind of vegetation and in eastern Washington we do a lot of knapweed and the other noxious weeds they prefer over some other plants.?
Madsen says it is a very effective way to help clear an area that other animals won’t venture into with weeds like leafy spurge.
MADSEN: Both goats and sheep like leafy spurge but if it gets much over 20% canopy the cattle won’t go in a utilize it at all because it’s has a kind of milky sap that’s caustic so they won’t actually eat it and they won’t actually go into the site where there is a lot of leafy spurge and it’s actually quite good feed for goats.
Goats are not the end all, be all for weed problems since there are some challenges like fencing issues but depending on your situation, they may be an excellent alternative to herbicides.
MADSEN: So it just depends on the site. In a rangeland situation where you can’t get equipment on very well because of the terrain the goats are adapted to that type of terrain so they are very effective in those types of situations. Where you can get in and use equipment on of course it’s typically more effective and less expensive to do it by equipment but if it’s in an area that’s very difficult to access – and I do a lot of projects in western Washington where there are also restrictions, the wet sites or in the wetlands where they have restrictions on utilizing herbicides.
According to Madsen the effectiveness of using goats and sheep like using herbicides depends on a certain amount of tenacity.
MADSEN: In 4 to 5 years they’ve seen with grazing you can have an impact of reducing it by 80 to 90% but if you take the pressure off, it’s one of those things it has the ability to respond back. One you take the grazing pressure of it can come back over time. I know there’s people in Lincoln County where they have been spraying herbicides for 15 years and they’re just maintaining it. They’re not taking it out either.
Healing Hooves can either just provide the animals and caretaker or ag producers can actually purchase goats and sheep and education as well. For more info visit healinghooves.com.
That’s today’s Line On Agriculture. I’m Greg Martin on the Northwest Ag Information Network.