USA — With brush fires always a threat, Santa Barbara View caught up with one of the regions most unique businesses, Brush Goats 4 Hire. Lorraine Argo and Ian Newsam run the company that uses goats to help clear vegetation in areas susceptible to fires.
We were running cattle on a private ranch in the Santa Ynez Valley, however half of the acreage was brush and not suitable for cattle consumption, said Lorrain when asked how they got started. The landowner asked us to run goats on his land to convert some the brush into pasture land. We agreed, started Brush Goats 4 Hire and learned a lot through the good ole school of hard knocks; eventually finding the best methods for our area. We started helping family and friends with their weed abatement and restoration projects. Our business began to grow, primarily through word of mouth.
So what about the goats Goats have the largest livers of all the ruminants and therefore can process plants that would be deemed as toxic to other livestock this includes Cape Ivy and Poison Oak. Contrary to popular belief, goats are relatively selective in what they will consume. Sorry, no tin cans. Therefore, using target browsing, we rotate the herds through smaller pens to ensure that they eat not only the candy plants, but also the less favorable broccoli foliage.
We have found that Boer, Kiko and Spanish goats and crosses of such are best fit for brush clearance. We sometimes acquire goats that have been slated for slaughter (wethers, which are male castrated goats), so we offer a reprieve from such a fate. However to be a brush goat can be more difficult than being a stabled or pastured animal in the sense it is a life closer to nature. This closeness to nature exposes the livestock to predators and fluctuations in feed, the effects of which can be mitigated by predator control dogs and free choice nutritional supplements. However, eating browse can be healthier for goats then cut hay. Also, moving up and down our Santa Barbara hills and canyons helps with muscle strength and stamina vise standing around in a pen waiting at the gate for the next flake of alfalfa. We had a brush goat doe(female) give birth to triplets at age 19. So there is something to be said about being a brush goat.
The company and the goats have taken on some high-profile local projects including: the Santa Bowl, Casa Dorinda Retirement Center, Cate School, several sites for the Carpinteria-Summerland Fire Department, Saint Marys Retreat Center, and the Tunnel Road Trailhead for the Mission Canyon Association. However, their services are not just for large businesses or government agencies, they can be retained by private land owners, home owners associations, and all businesses who want fire fuels reduction, brush thinning, invasive weed removal/eradication or land restoration needs.
The failure was in the forest areas.Advertisement
Following a 10-year strategy, ACT fire managers have created a mosaic across the landscape of different fuel levels, burning at every opportunity.
But forests have been too wet to burn this spring and the past two summers.
A network of 500 fire trails and strategic burns along the north-west urban edge, heavy grazing and extra grass slashing will create a fortress for the territory which forecasters say faces a higher than average risk this summer.
After a fire-fuelled tornado in January 2003 killed four Canberrans and frightened thousands more, CSIRO fire expert Phil Cheney told the subsequent inquiry the fire’s penetration into urban areas under extreme conditions did not reflect a failure of fuel management on the urban interface.