UW-Platteville brings goats to campus
PLATTEVILLE, Wis. – In attempt to combat weeds and unwanted undergrowth on campus, a herd of 40 goats has been brought to the University of Wisconsin-Platteville’s Memorial Park. In this 20-day pilot program supported by a grant from the UW-Platteville Campus Sustainability Fund, the goats will remove invasive honeysuckle and garlic mustard from a two-acre plot of land in an environmentally and financially-friendly way.
“It’s a perfect solution to a complicated problem,” Amy Seeboth-Wilson, UW-Platteville’s sustainability coordinator, said. “Instead of reinventing the wheel with a manmade solution, let nature do what it does best.”
Although the program was originally conceived in 2013 as part of UW-Platteville’s sustainability plan, it took four years of careful planning to implement. Since controlled fires can be difficult to implement in a city and chemicals can kill wildlife, an innovative and cost-effective strategy had to be approached. Four students help maintain the herd, refilling the water supply two to three times per day.
As natural browsers and hearty eaters, goats are perfect for land restoration. Ranging in a variety of sizes, the herd is able to clear and consume foliage at various heights. Larger goats are able to reach taller plants that others may have missed, while pushing other plants down, making them reachable to smaller members of the herd. Goats are also known for eating a wide variety of plants, including those that have thorns or come from shrubs or bushes. They are resistant to all types of weather, so they remain outdoors throughout the day and night.
“While the goats are capable of eating almost anything out here, they’re also eating plants that are not native to the area and others that tend to take over,” Seeboth-Wilson said. “We are trying to restore this land back to what it would have been like as a native community. If we can restore this to the way it historically was, certain wildlife can come back to campus.”
If the three-week program is deemed successful, Seeboth-Wilson is interested in bringing a permanent goat herd to UW-Platteville’s campus. Whether it’s working with the animal science or reclamation and conservation departments, there are numerous ways the program could be utilized through university partnerships.
The herd was rented for $3,500 from Green Goats LLC, located in Monroe, Wisconsin. The goats can be found in UW-Platteville’s Memorial Park, a 45-acre park dedicated in 1946 by the southwest side of Greenwood Cemetery. While guests are more than welcome to visit, the university recommends keeping a safe distance from the electric fence and not bringing dogs, as they scare the goats.
An open house is scheduled for Wednesday, July 19 between 3-4 p.m. to discuss how the goats are removing invasive plants, fertilizing soil and restoring the land. UW-Platteville’s Dr. Yari Johnson, professor of reclamation, Dr. Tera Montgomery, professor of dairy science, and Seeboth-Wilson will briefly discuss the project and answer any questions.
For more information about UW-Platteville’s sustainability efforts, visit www.uwplatt.edu/sustainability.
Written by: Amanda Bertolozzi, Writer/Editor, Communications, 608-342-7121, firstname.lastname@example.org
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