All ewe can eat! Goats, sheep clear invasive weeds in North Valley - Albuquerque Journal

All ewe can eat! Goats, sheep clear invasive weeds in North Valley

A herd of goats and sheep eat invasive weed species Friday afternoon at the Candelaria Nature Preserve in an attempt to restore the soil health. (Robert Browman/Albuquerque Journal)

There’s going to be a lot of bleating and weeding going on.

The City of Albuquerque and local organizations are using a herd of 160 goats and sheep to clear invasive weeds from the Candelaria Nature Preserve.

The herd, supplied by Galloping Goats in Rio Rancho, will be rotated among quarter-acre areas for several weeks to eradicate nuisance species like tumbleweeds, Siberian elms and Johnson grass.

On Friday afternoon, the herd grazed lazily on mostly Johnson grass as the occasional flock of geese and sandhill cranes flew overhead. The goats, each with their own personalities and names like Roxanne, Grandma and Belted, feasted harmoniously aside from the intermittent headbutt and locked horns over a particularly tasty patch.

“Goats love weeds,” Dave Simon, director of the city Parks and Recreation Department, said in a statement. “They would rather eat brush and weeds than grass because they are browsers, not grazers like cattle. Goats are part of a more earth-friendly strategy to restore and manage Candelaria Nature Preserve.”

Max Wade, owner of Galloping Goats, said the goats and sheep are rented at $980 per acre and can finish a half-acre a day. He said the animals love the gig.

“They’re kind of born to eat. They’re wonderful employees,” he said with a hearty laugh. “They get paid to eat all day long.”

bright spotThe city contracted with Ciudad Soil and Water Conservation District for the project, which wanted to try a different approach to reduce invasive species rather than the usual hand crews, equipment and — of course — herbicides.

“We’re using biology with biology,” said Sean Ludden, the conservation district’s programs coordinator. “From an ecology standpoint, that’s really what we’re looking for when we try to restore these old fields toward habitat and native plant cover.”

Claire Wade, with Galloping Goats Ranch, said the herd’s presence will also be-hoove the soil by both fertilizing and kneading in native and cover crop seeds for later germination.

A city spokesperson said the Open Space Division will also be applying mulch, “no-till seeding” of wildlife crops to support soil health at the preserve and also disperse food for migratory birds and build habitat structures.

It’s not only the goats and sheep who have it easy. Herders Claire Wade, Nick Hunt and Rylee Sluga said they can’t complain.

The trio gleefully watched the herd run from each new area of weeds to the next, as if they’ve discovered a hidden treasure every time. Sluga said local residents often come to take photos and express gratitude at the natural methods of restoring the land and soil.

“They were saying the people who previously owned the land were using Roundup to kill off all the weeds; so the people in the community started fighting for the land — for it to be taken care of,” Sluga said.


Albuquerque Journal and its reporters are committed to telling the stories of our community.

• Do you have a question you want someone to try to answer for you? Do you have a bright spot you want to share?
   We want to hear from you. Please email yourstory@abqjournal.com

Nativo Sponsored Content

taboola desktop

MORE ARTICLES LIKE THIS

1
In tune with communities: Small-town radio connects with very ...
ABQnews Seeker
Small town radio connects with very ... Small town radio connects with very local listeners
2
Cowboy Way is again named Group of the Year
ABQnews Seeker
New Mexico trio brings a different ... New Mexico trio brings a different sound to telling stories of the West through music
3
Lawsuit: MDC inmate hung self unnoticed by staff
ABQnews Seeker
Video shows man hanging 1 hour, ... Video shows man hanging 1 hour, 19 minutes before being seen by jail staff
4
Pandemic reflected in 2020 traffic plunge
ABQnews Seeker
Miles traveled per capita lowest since ... Miles traveled per capita lowest since 1993
5
Wild turkeys may lose protected status in NM
ABQnews Seeker
After field research and with birds ... After field research and with birds added to the Peloncillo Mountains in the Bootheel, the goals set out in recovery have been met
6
Balderas cleared of ethics charges in utilities case
ABQnews Seeker
A nonprofit accused AG of misconduct ... A nonprofit accused AG of misconduct in dealings related to PNM-Avangrid proposed merger
7
Lobos wilt under Blazing pressure in Las Vegas (with ...
ABQnews Seeker
Jamal Mashburn Jr. scored a career ... Jamal Mashburn Jr. scored a career high 26 but UNM committed 20 turnovers and the Lobos lost to UAB in the Las Vegas Invitational.
8
La Luz Trail Run faces uphill climb for permit
ABQnews Seeker
3 members of NM's congressional delegation ... 3 members of NM's congressional delegation urge forest officials to allow iconic race
9
I-40 eastbound reopened at Unser following fatal wreck
ABQnews Seeker
The eastbound lanes of Interstate 40 ... The eastbound lanes of Interstate 40 are closed at Unser following a fatal rollover crash this morning, according to police.