Brook, Michael and Lavender with their hard-working non-union goats. Photos by Bill Green
Ventura Brush Goats recently delivered 70 weed eating goats to the vacant lot behind the Golden China Restaurant next to Highway 101 at Seaward to remove fire-fuel brush and invasive plant species. The herd arrived on Friday, June 28th and will remain for several weeks. The site is for a future hotel.
Owners Michael and Brook Leicht said, “Goats can often be the best method for clearing land, whether it is for fire mitigation, soil improvement, or invasive plant removal. They can clear steep slopes that are difficult and dangerous for humans to traverse and will happily devour poison oak and thistles.”
Goats trim the skirts of trees up to four feet off the ground, effectively preventing “canopy” fires, and once the goats are on-sight, there is no need for loud and fuel intensive heavy machinery or toxic chemicals.
This is especially beneficial on this site because any run-off would quickly make its way to the Pacific Ocean. Mob grazing with goats can help prevent storm water run-off; their hooves make thousands of cups in the soil that catch water and slow it down. The beneficial microbes in their gut inoculate the soil with healthy microbial activity via manure which improves soil health and encourages “better” weeds with a more fibrous root structure to thrive rather than persistent tap-root plants like invasive mustards and mallow. The fibrous-rooted plants create more humus which allows the soil to hold more water over time, further preventing surface run-off and combating drought.
Ventura Brush Goats uses portable solar electric nets to keep predators out and goats targeted in a specific area. The herd is transported in a large 32’ long livestock trailer that doubles as shelter and hospital pen. Their hooves are trimmed every 2 months. Other than their free-choice mineral supplement, they require no food except weeds!
Michael went on to tell the Breeze “We are a family owned weed abatement and soil improvement service based in Ventura County. We graze fire-breaks and eliminate invasive brush while restoring natural fertility with our goat herd.”
“For us, the Thomas fire was a call to action. We had been raising a couple of dairy goats to provide for ourselves and our then-two-year-old daughter; we saw firsthand how they quickly dispatched of the brush in their paddock, and in the first days of 2018 with ashes still in the air we decided take the leap and learn how to holistically manage a large grazing herd. Our herd will total about seventy animals and we expect to grow to approximately one hundred in the spring of 2020. “
“Because of their practicality, cost-effectiveness, ecological sustainability and downright fun, our family has become very passionate about working with goats to clear brush and improve soil! Check out our ‘Ventura Brush Goats’ Facebook page, https://facebook.com/venturabrushgoats/ for occasional fun goat facts and pictures. Look for more pictures and informative content on our website: http://www.venturabrushgoats.com/ “