Invasive species control

As it turns out, goats are naturally inclined to graze on some of our region’s most stubborn invasive plants—in fact, they are one of the best tools we use to control these species’ spread.

For several years, a herd of seven retired dairy goats has resided at Misty Acres Farm and traveled to various GTRLC-owned nature preserves during the growing season. The goats arrive with an appetite, vigorously consuming invasive plants within designated, fenced-in areas of each property. 

In the spring of 2022, an additional herd of goats arrived at the Mitchell Creek Meadows Nature Preserve, where they enjoy comfortable indoor and outdoor accommodations and work to restore the preserve’s natural habitats.

When we protected the former golf course property that is now the Mitchell Creek Meadows Preserve, we knew we’d have our work cut out for us. Our staff and volunteers have been working tirelessly to remove aggressive invasive plants like autumn olive and reed canary grass, which are scattered throughout the preserve and threaten to outcompete essential native plant species. To complicate matters, as with many of our preserves, the property contains sensitive wetland areas that aren’t suitable for vehicles or heavy equipment.

Goats, however, are ideal for handling this job. They do much of the hard work for us while grazing on invasive species and significantly reducing their biomass—making it easier for us to remove them and sometimes, completely exterminating the plants. The best part is they enjoy the work! Goats can easily navigate challenging terrain with little impact on the surrounding habitat and prefer targeting some of the most difficult invasive species to control.

A few times throughout the growing season, the goats also help keep grasses trimmed around the solar array next to their run. During the warm months, the panels are strategically raised high enough to prevent the goats from reaching them, and lowered in the winter to catch the sun’s rays reflected from the snow.

The goat barn

When they aren’t working, the goats stay comfortable and safe in indoor and outdoor spaces at the preserve. A sheltered barn on the property features a large wintering area, a heated medical bay where they can be treated for illness-and (including wi-fi access for their caretakers), and a hay storage area conveniently located nearby.

Attached to the barn is a spacious outdoor run where they find entertainment with repurposed enrichment structures like broom brushes and wooden spools.

About the goat herd

Our goat herd includes 10 goats originally from Idyll Farms in Northport. They were born in the spring of 2022, making them a relatively young herd. Before arriving at Mitchell Creek Meadows, each goat was assigned a name starting with the letter “K”. The farm used this naming system to track their birth years, with each year corresponding to a specific letter. Although these goats came from a dairy operation, none of them have had offspring or been milked.


Interested in lending a hand? Let us know! We are looking for dedicated volunteers to help look after our goats. Check our volunteer calendar to learn about upcoming volunteer opportunities.