Goats busy eating invasive vegetation in Rochester Park

Published: Aug. 2, 2022 at 10:11 AM CDT
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ROCHESTER, Minn. (KTTC) – Goats have been busy eating invasive vegetation in a Rochester park.

There are about 200 goats at Bear Creek Park off of Marion Road. They are part of the company called Goat Dispatch. They are an eco-friendly way of managing invasive buckthorn plants that choke out healthy native plants.

According to Goat Dispatch owner Jake Langeslag, the goats eat the buckthorn and leave the healthy plants.

In the past, according city forester Jeff Haberman, the city of Rochester has mowed the acres of land at Bear Creek Park in an effort to get rid of the buckthorn. He said the downside is that they have to mow everything, including the native plants.

“We have had a pretty heavy infestation of buckthorn in the past,” he said. “What you are seeing now is regrowth. As we continue to hit the plants, or to chew them down, it depletes their resources and over time the idea is that the buckthorn will go away.”

Haberman added that they have replanted trees and shrubs on the land, too. He said they lost many trees due to Emerald Ash Borer.

“We have been ramping up our efforts over the past few years with the goats,” he said. “Our goal this year is to have them graze 25-50 acres. Bear Creek is a 10 acre patch.”

Langeslag said the company started a few years ago after he and his wife borrowed a couple of their neighbor’s goats.

“We just borrowed a couple goats and had them in our backyard for my wife and I to enjoy,” he said. “Next thing you know, we have 650 and we’re running all over chasing ones like this one. Some days I probably wish I could find something better I could do besides chasing them through a hot day, getting all cut up. But other days, I wouldn’t trade it for anything in the world.”

He said all of the goats have names, but they are running out ideas.

“If anyone has any ideas for names, send them our way,” he said.

In the past year, their farm has welcomed 100 babies to 100 mothers. Many of them are at Bear Creek eating the buckthorn.

Langeslag said they are currently hiring “goat watchers,” people who watch and check up on the goats while they are out in the park.

People who visit the goats are advised to not feed them. Langeslag said one time he found out a woman had been bringing Chipotle to the goats to eat.

“I am pretty sure Chipotle tastes a lot better than buckthorn,” he said. “Please don’t feed the goats, or they won’t be able to do their job. Feed me Chipotle instead!”

The goats will be in the park for about another week or two.

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