Goats are back on the G.O.A.T. (Greatest of all Trails!) If you are on the Trail, you may hear an unfamiliar sound. We have brought goats back to help with vegetation management.
Why are there goats on the Butler Trail?
Goats love to eat! Since they are more than happy to be used as a source of vegetation management, we decided to put them to work! They will be clearing out some of the overgrown areas around the Trail – including areas of thick poison ivy.
Goats eat noxious (native plants detrimental to humans and pets) and invasive (non-native plants detrimental to the ecosystem) plants. We are specifically putting the goats in areas of highly invasive and noxious plants. Goats also have sure and steady footing that allows them to work in areas that contractors and volunteers cannot access easily – such as steep hills or areas with too much poison ivy and/or brushy growth.
Adopt a Goat!
Have you ever wanted to have a goat without all the responsibilities? You can adopt a goat’s return to the Trail in the Fall to help keep this program going.
For as little as $20 per month, the goats will return to Austin (and the Greatest of all Trails) this fall to continue enjoying their favorite snack – poison ivy. And, with a gift of $250, we will send you a certificate that includes the name of your new best friend.
With our Adopt a Goat program, you can see your impact on the Trail firsthand. You can visit your goat on the Trail for selfies and late-night chats. We just caution against goat snuggles, as they are covered in poison ivy!
Noxious species are native plants are detrimental to humans and things humans like – such as shade, native birds, and butterflies. Noxious plants on the Trail include Poison Ivy and Grapevine.
Invasive species are plants that are not native and are detrimental to the ecosystem. Invasive plants on the Trail include Elephant Ear, Sweet Autumn Clematis, Chinese Pistache Trees, and Golden Rain Trees.
Why is vegetation management important along the Trail?
The goats are removing those plants around the Trail that we don’t want on the Trail – think itchy poison ivy! By controlling the invasive plants, we also increase the park’s safety by decreasing the risk of wildfires and increasing sightlines.
Why are goats the best option for vegetation management?
Goats are the most eco-friendly option (and they are the cutest option by far!) Contractors cannot always get where we need them to. Goats can!
Burns and machines reduce the air quality. Goats do not!
Burns can spread to unintended areas. A fence controls goats!
Machines can compact the soil. Goats don’t!
Humans can get poison ivy rashes. Goats can’t!
Goats also keep carbon and nutrients local by consuming the plants, processing the materials, and excreting the waste. Yes, the goats also fertilize the area!
Let's talk about the goats....
Do the goats have names?
All 150 goats on the Trail are named! Their names are on their cute little earrings, so if you want to chat up a goat, make sure to introduce yourself.
You can scroll to the bottom of this page for a complete list of the goats working on the Trail.
Are the goats friendly?
The goats are super friendly, but you shouldn’t try to pet them while they are working. They will be covered in the oils from all the poison ivy they are eating, and that is transferrable to humans.
Who is taking care of the goats while they are on the Trail?
The goats are professional workers! They will be managed and cared for by Rent-a-Ruminant, the company we are contracting with to bring the goats to the Trail.
Where are the goats sleeping?
The goats have special access, and are the only camping that we allow on the Trail. They will be sleeping in their pens with their handlers close by keeping an eye out!
What safety measures are being used?
The goats are trained professionals! Not only have they gone through extensive training before they’re ready to work, they also respect the fencing. The goats are behind a mesh fence with a low-voltage electric fence wire running its length.
How long will the goats be on the Trail?
The goats are here for 3-4 weeks this summer. They will be focused in three locations around the Trail. We hope to secure additional funding to help expand the program in the future!
What happens when the goats leave?
At first, we will all be very sad, missing the now familiar sound of our goat friends. Then, our team (with volunteers) will go into the area to mulch heavily, preventing the invasive plants from regrowing. During the fall and winter seasons, we will replant the areas with native species.