Japanese Knotweed control with Goats
The knotweed mitigation program using goats was started during the summer of 2020. We (Huntington Conservation Commission) had located a goat farmer who wanted to use his goats to eradicate knotweed in problem public spaces. The first season was successful, with still a long way to go. With the AVCC Tiny Grant funding for this year, we were able to house and keep the goats on the town property for a second year, continuing their Japanese knotweed mitigation. We were able to match the AVCC funds with volunteer hours during workdays (averaging one each month) and another generous donation, which helped pay for goat food and maintenance during their stay. The goats arrived at the end of May, complete with housing and portable electric fencing, and spent the next four months munching on Japanese knotweed. They cleared the hillside and lower flat area around the town offices (this was our goal), and now the areas are covered with black plastic until next year. There is more to be done on town property, but the threatened buildings are now knotweed-free. Dan Hallberg, owner of the working goats, was able to be reimbursed for his expenses, including the black plastic (another goal for this year’s project). We are planning to continue using the goats (hopefully a few more for next year) to mitigate the knotweed infestation around adjacent town property. Dan and the HCC are hoping to make this an ongoing and sustainable project for our town into the future.
Japanese knotweed had completely taken over an area over 200 square feet, surrounding some of the town buildings. Other methods of eradication had been tried for years, unsuccessfully. As of the end of the 2021 season, an area approximately 200 sq' is now covered in black plastic. There is no knotweed around the buildings, and we will continue to have the goats stay on this property during summers to keep it knotweed-free until it is safe to take the plastic off.
Town of Huntington
Huntington Conservation Commission
Critical to the success of this project was keeping happy goats. They required adequate housing and portable fencing, and a team of volunteers (the "Goat Gang") who helped with goat feeding, visiting and monitoring. Dan, owner of the goats, put in many hours traveling daily to check on and care for them. He was and is committed to making this project successful and sustainable for several more years.
The first challenge we encountered was goat housing on-site, which took some creative maneuvering to solve. During the season, the electric fence needed to be cleaned of greenery (many thistles) on a regular basis to keep it "live." The black matting that we had put on the hillside was slowly sliding down the hill and we had to switch to a different density plastic get it to stay in place.