Pasture weed control is complicated by the steep hill side topography found in many areas of Kentucky. Meat goats (Capra hircus) are a possible alternative to mechanical or chemical weed control in these pasture situations. A study using 120 boer-cross female goats averaging 44 kg, was conducted in Carter County (2010–2012) to determine the impact of meat goats on undesirable plant species. Additionally, 15 goats chosen at random were fitted with GPS collars for 5 days to determine animal activity. Plant population and canopy density measurements were recorded at the start, middle, and end of the grazing season for two or three years. Goat periodic preference for particular plant species resulted in an increase in growth of other species for the same period or year. Bramble density in the upper canopy (90 cm and above) decreased during the study, particularly in the first year of grazing, but increased in the second year, as goat preference changed (P < 0.05). Overall, grass availability in the middle and lower canopy (45 cm to 90 cm and 0 to 45 cm, respectively) increased during the grazing season in the study (P < 0.05). Distinct activity patterns related to resting, foraging period and locations were observed in goats from GPS measurements. The effectiveness of goats in eliminating undesirable plants species and the use of GPS as tool in determining behavior showed great potential for using meat goats in a vegetation management plan.
undesirable plant species