We live in a small development along one of the city’s walking/biking trails and a natural open space area. All year long, we take advantage of it, walking the kids to and from school and going for family walks and bike rides in the evenings. We enjoy the open space, the wildflowers and greenery along the small creek, and the occasional rabbit, pheasant, and turkey sighting.
But in the spring something extra magical happens.
Every year in the late spring, herds of sheep and goats are brought into the city of Rocklin and moved through the various open space areas for managed grazing — a natural solution for weed abatement, vegetation control, and fire suppression. It started a few years ago and now it is something we look forward to every year. Especially because sometimes many of the animals are pregnant or have recently had babies.
This year, no sheep were in the open space near our house. There were only goats — hundreds of them, some pregnant — and they were moved from one section of land to the next as they ate down the plants and weeds, and even chewed the bark right off the trees.
It took them just over a week to eat the entire open space wetland area near our house to almost bare dirt, and we were out there every night and sometimes even before school to watch the goats and see their progress. The goats love the green plants, so the kids figured out that if they held green foliage out over the fence, the goats would walk right over to them and eat it from their hands.
While I was in Minneapolis for two speaking engagements, my husband and kids were lucky enough to see the entire goat herd cross the road — which we have never seen! By total accident, they roached the goats when the Goats R Us farmer was on the phone trying to tell the police where to come to block the streets. English wasn’t his first language, so my husband actually got on the phone, directed the police, and stayed to watch the goat farmer and the goat dogs herd the goats across the main road.
Managed Grazing In The City of Rocklin
The city of Rocklin uses both goats and sheep for managed grazing, a green approach to vegetation control. When done properly, it is an effective, eco-friendly alternative for reducing fire hazard and controlling the growth of vegetation on public lands.
- Sheep are used when vegetation is still tender and green
- Goats are used when vegetation begins to dry out
Benefits of Managed Grazing
One of the most noticeable benefits of grazing is the reduction of ladder fuels. Ladder fuels are dead vegetation such as tall grasses, shrubs, and low hanging tree branches that allow a ground fire to climb up into the tree canopy and spread. Managed grazing is a very effective way to reduce fire fuel loads because goats and sheep love grasses, clovers, weeds and brush species such as Manzanita, berry bushes, poison oak and even star thistle.
I’m proud to live in a city that uses goats and sheep as natural resources for weed abatement, vegetation control, and fire suppression instead of chemicals and machines.
As a mom, I’m thrilled my children get to see the goats and sheep and learn about how they are used in the city and how the city and the farmers work together. I’m also thankful that this inspires my children every year to learn more about sheep and goats by googling fun facts and trivia to share with the family and checking out related books from the library to read for AR.