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To rid Austin trails of poison ivy, this solution is the GOAT

A goat chews on leaves.
Patricia Lim
Goats are roaming along the Butler Trail this month to eat up poison ivy and other invasive plant species.

People frequenting the Ann and Roy Butler Hike-and-Bike Trail at Lady Bird Lake this month might see goats along the path.

The Trail Conservancy, the nonprofit organization that maintains the trail, has been trying to find a way to clean up poison ivy. So, they've turned to livestock. For the next three to four weeks, goats will be fenced in and living along the trail, eating up poison ivy and other invasive plants.

“It's a really innovative and creative alternative to some of the other tactics we could use to eradicate poison ivy, like controlled burns, which affect air quality, or chemicals, which affect water quality in the lake,” The Trail Conservancy's CEO Heidi Anderson said. “This is a really exciting opportunity to have these goats come in and be kind of a fun alternative.”

The goats are from a vegetation management company called Rent-A-Ruminant. Each of the 150 goats that will graze along the trail have gone through a training program.

Rent-A-Ruminant uses a portable electric fence to keep the goats from roaming onto the trail's path.

“They also have to stay together like a herd," Rent-A-Ruminant Co-Owner Carolyn Carr said. "The other thing is they have to maintain their work ethic. So, they have to go to work. That's what their job is here. They don't need to come over to the fence and bother people and ask for handouts and stuff like that.”

The goats will eat, sleep and go to the bathroom next to the trail. Their poop is good fertilizer for plants, so in a few weeks, The Trail Conservancy will come back and plant native species to encourage good plant growth.

Rent-A-Ruminant employees will sleep in a trailer just outside the trail and spend each night with the goats, making sure they stay within the fence.

Each goat has a name that correlates with their personality. One, for instance, is named Beckham, after the soccer player, because he would do little kicks as a baby. Another one, Mocha, is all brown with little white spots on her rear.

Just before he was released along the trail Wednesday, KUT asked Beckham how he feels about his new assignment. Hear his response below.

Interview with Beckham the goat

Haya Panjwani is a general assignment reporter, with a focus on Travis County. Got a tip? Email her at Follow her on Twitter @hayapanjw.
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