Goat Powered Invasive Removal

University Facilities and Clemson researchers joined forces to remove invasive species surrounding the banks of Hunnicutt Creek, using an unconventional, but proven method. A herd of goats was brought in for a specified period of time to graze on the invasive plants, which make up the majority of the forest along the creek and choke out native species.

Click here to read-up on what the Clemson Newsstand has to say about this trip of goats!

The Target: Invasive Species, including the following:

Chinese Privet (Ligustrum sinense)
English Ivy (Hedera helix)
Japanese Honeysuckle (Lonicera japonica)
Kudzu (Pueraria montana)
Mimosa (Albizia julibrissin)
Multiflora Rose (Rosa multiflora)
Oregon Grape (Mahonia bealei)
Silverthorn (Elaeagnus  pungens)
Wisteria (Wisteria sp.)

The Goats

The herd of goats (anywhere between 40 to 70) was brought in from Wells Farm of Horse Shoe, NC. The diverse diet that these goats engulfed over the course of their Clemson stay is actually more nutritious than conventional field-based grass grazing, according to Wells Farm. While they do have their preferences, the goats will eat any and all plants in the prescribed, fenced area. The herd was contained with an electrified, marked fence to separate them from campus. University members and the community were cautioned to keep away from the research site while in progress.

The Research

Research of both the effectiveness and the ecological impacts of the goats take advantage of their annual visits. A series of permanent plots have been established along the Hunnicutt Creek corridor. In each of the plots, plant diversity and cover, soil compaction, and invasive removal and regrowth are studied. The study compares areas active with grazing goats and areas outside of it, which will be managed by either manual removal of invasives or chemical control of invasives or will be left alone as control plots. In addition, studies of bacteria and clarity of the water have been established to compare water quality before the goats’ arrival and while they graze. Researchers on the project include Cal Sawyer, Don Hagan, Jeremy Pike, and student interns.

Watch the below videos to see prescribed grazing in action!
Prescribed Grazing by Goats
Prescribed Grazing around Lightsey Bridge