Soon after the Coalition started up, we decided not to experiment with using animals to graze on kudzu. We have seen and heard several indications that, although the use of goats always makes the headlines, the results are often not as wonderful as was first thought. Prior experience by the city of Spartanburg, South Carolina, suggested that this was not a good approach to kudzu control. Rebecca West gave us background details about the city’s unsuccessful experience with goats. The failure of goats in Spartanburg was just one factor in our decision. As the result of Spartanburg’s experience, we studied as many projects as we could find where animal grazing was used to control kudzu.
A portable fence is required, and those do not come cheap. The fence must be strong enough to keep dogs out. This is a tougher requirement than just keeping the goats in. Apparently dogs — even mild mannered dogs — go a bit wild when goats are in view. They charge in and kill goats.
One final reason. Based on the facts presented in Rebecca West’s recap of Spartanburg's prior experience, someone must pitch a tent alongside the goats to prevent theft of the animals. At this point, no one in the Coalition has volunteered to take on the goat herder role! Maybe someday . . .
Our urban sites are quite small and, unlike rural infestations of kudzu, these are not suitable locations for grazing animals. We find that thermal methods are cost effective, and considerably easier to deal with than goats. We have made thermal methods a key ingredient in our site work since the initial tests in 2004. We do not want to make goat herders angry, but we owe it to ourselves and to the city to invest our meager resources where we think the payout is best.
Revised November 2007