Goat Grazing Pilot Project

Project Descriptiongoat munching honeysuckle

In fall of 2018, the City enlisted some new helpers to battle buckthorn - goats! City council approved a pilot project in a two acre area at Civic Center Park to see if goats, along with other techniques, can help control buckthorn in savanna restoration projects.

Large buckthorn and weedy trees were already removed from the pilot project area prior to the goats arriving. Following buckthorn removal, the area was seeded with native grasses. The goats were brought in for a few weeks in the fall to eat the smaller buckthorn saplings, reducing the need for herbicides. If successful, the goat grazing technique will be repeated for several years. 

Project Timeline

The goats are NO LONGER on site. The first year of the pilot project was successful.  The goats were very effective at defoliating the sapling sized buckthorn within the project area.  The goats will return again to repeat the grazing process in 2019 and the long-term impacts of the grazing on buckthorn will continue to be evaluated.

This photo series shows the goat grazing project area before and after the goats grazed the site.  B

Frequently Asked Questions

Where do the goats come from and how long will they stay?

The goats are owned by a company called Goat Dispatch. They specialize in goats that can be "hired" for invasive species control and land management. The goats will not permanently be at the park. They will stay for several weeks, with the exact timing dependent on how quickly they eat through the buckthorn in the project area.

 Which park will the goats be at?Pilot Project Map Opens in new window

The goats will be at Civic Center Park. Take a closer look at the project area.

Can I pet or feed the goats?

The goats will be here to work so although we encourage you to stop by to see them, please do not try to pet or feed them. 

How do you keep the goats in the area that you want them?

The goats are contained by two rows of temporary, easy to install fencing. The inner row of fencing is energized by solar power and 12-volt battery. The energized fence is low voltage and low risk for people. The outer row of fencing keeps people away from the goats and away from the energized fence. Signs on the fencing will notify park users about the project.

Can I use goats on my Burnsville property?

Using goats for land management is not allowed in Burnsville except for areas zoned R1-A (Rural Residential). This zone is limited to extreme southwest Burnsville (see zoning map). Additional restrictions may apply in Planned Unit Developments within the R1-A zone. If goats are used in areas zoned R1-A, all related City code must be followed including the Animal section under Title 6, Chapter 2

Does anyone check on the goats?

The contractor will check on the goats daily to make sure they have everything they need.

Do the goats kill the buckthorn?

Goat grazing does not immediately kill the buckthorn. The goats damage the plants and cause them to resprout from the ground, wasting their root energy. Over time, this can kill the buckthorn. Goat grazing is most effective when repeated for several years and when used along with other management techniques.