Goat Grazing – Piloting a Natural Form of Weed Control in Calgary

The City of Calgary is introducing a unique pilot project that will study the use of goats for targeted weed control. Beginning this spring, a herd of goats managed by a professional shepherd and highly trained herding dogs will be dispatched to two Calgary parks to help control weeds, including Canada thistle.

“We know that grazing has the potential to offer several benefits for managing landscapes in Calgary,” says Chris Manderson, Urban Conservation lead for Calgary Parks. “Targeted grazing for weeds is environmentally friendly and sustainable, and there’s evidence from other cities that indicates that it can also be cost-effective.”

The City is committed to controlling pests and weeds in a safe and environmentally responsible manner, and this pilot includes the collection of data to analyze the effectiveness of grazing on controlling weeds.

“We’re especially interested in seeing if we can use grazing in areas that may be unsafe for work crews and equipment, such as steep slopes and nearby water bodies where we avoid the use of chemical herbicides”, says Manderson.

The goats will appear in Confluence (West Nose Creek) Park and possibly at a second location in a nearby green space, just as the Canada thistle begins to flower – an effective time for controlling this particular weed. The timing is weather-dependant; however The City anticipates the herd will arrive late May or early June.

Calgarians can visit calgary.ca/biodiversity for more information.