Pros and cons of using goats for fire protection

Blog Post created by laurenbackstrom Employee on Nov 15, 2013

GoatsUsing goats for fire protection comes with some pros and cons, but for Kathy Christensen and her community of Emigration Canyon in Utah, they have shown to be very helpful in managing wildfire risk. 

The community got started with a FEMA grant and one willing homeowner who agreed to use the goats on their property. They have used goats since then year after year. As far as equipment, electric fences and portable water troughs are necessary. Placement of the goats should be kept away from streets, but around developments, near forests, in common areas and private yards. 

Advantages of using goats include their ability to access steep areas as well as remote areas that are tough for cutting crews to get into, they also eat weeds or poisonous vegatation without harm, and they prefer brush to grass. There are some problems to be aware of however; dogs that are off leash can kill or stampede the goats, a barnyard smell does arise, and escapees need to be found, rounded up and rejoined with the group - a task that can prove difficult. 

Due to the goats efforts, and a fire break that was created in a strategic location in the community, a 2007 wildfire was quickly stopped and contained, helping to demonstrate to some of the naysayers that they can be useful.