Top Stories: Goats an experiment for taking on invasive weeds in Chilliwack

Reflecting on the headlines: The goats arrived in Chilliwack in 2016 to try grazing some invasive weeds.

“The goats seem to work on so many levels

“The goats seem to work on so many levels

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The goats arrived in Chilliwack in 2016 to try grazing some invasive weeds.

It was an experiment geared to saving time, money and the environment by hiring Conrad Lindblom of Rocky Ridge Vegetation Control and his herd of hungry goats.

City of Chilliwack spearheaded the first goat project with the Fraser Valley Invasive Plant Council, and University of the Fraser Valley, to see if goats could be encouraged to target Himalayan blackberries, and later, Japanese knotweed.

The one-day trial in Chilliwack was on March 23, paid for by the Invasive Plant Council, targeting blackberries within a fenced in perimeter.

They used both goats and herding dogs, and deemed the trial successful, so more work in Chilliwack with the goats was set for May.

Turns out goats are actually hardwired to browse and eat the weeds rather than grass, which is something being investigated at UFV’s Centre for Agricultural Excellence.

Lindblom’s goats had been hired for removing thistle and knapweed in the Interior, but knotweed was a whole new ball game for them.

Japanese knotweed mapping by city staff shows it has spread to about 225 known locations in Chilliwack.

The goats managed to mow down a big, thick swath of the knotweed near a local golf course in May. It looks a bit like bamboo. The invasive plant was choking out all other vegetation on the bank against Evans Creek.

The goats slowly chomped through most of the patch in a couple of days.

“I never met a weed the goats don’t like,” quipped Lindblom.

The idea is that goat grazing might be safer than pesticides.

“The goats seem to work on so many levels,” said Mayor Sharon Gaetz. “We hope it leads to a template to be used by other communities as well.”