For the past few years, the City of Boulder has employed a somewhat unorthodox method of weed control– goats. The Parks and Recreation department works with contractor Emily McMurtrey and her company Mutton Mowers, which grazes goats around Boulder as a way to target noxious weeds. John Wold, a natural resource specialist with the City of Boulder Parks and Recreation Department told KGNU’s Sarah Dalgleish that the city has had a lot of success with this type of weed control.
“We used to use big herds on the dam faces of the Boulder Reservoir targeting specifically knapweed. And we had a lot of success with that, but we would use between 200 and 300 goats. It was a lot and finding contractors wasn’t always easy, so we had the opportunity to do it in a more urban setting and we kinda wanted to try that so for the past two or three years we’ve been doing it in a more urban environment.”
Having the goat weeders in a more populated urban environment leads to its own set of issues says Emily McMurtrey, the owner and operator of Mutton Mowers.
“I think that is probably the biggest problem I have with my grazing operation; it’s not the goats or the predators, it’s the people. I know most people just want to get a little bit closer to pet the goats because they are super cute and super friendly but jumping the fences or tampering with the equipment is very dangerous for them.”
McMurtrey checks on her herd every day, often twice a day while they’re on a job, particularly in public areas.
“My roles are to make sure the goats are safe, make sure their fencing is up, make sure they’re healthy, and make sure they are fulfilling their grazing roles. I like to say I have 70 kids. They all have names and they all have different personalities.”
If you want to learn more about the goats of Mutton Mowers or track where the herd is, go to muttonmowers.com.