Goats at Work

​​Eco-friendly goatscaping in our parks!​

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GIVE 365

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Erika Smith

Recreation Supervisor

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​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​What the goat is going on?​​​​ ​

Goatscaping, an old-fashioned solution to plant control, allows us to address poison ivy, overgrown brush and invasive plants in non-chemical ways. Goats will eat invasive plants like honeysuckle and buckthorn, in addition to other plants like poison ivy. Goats have been a part of the Ann Arbor Parks stewardship team since 2019. Assignments are specific, designated, and marked areas within a park. The goats typically have 2 or 3 assignments each year as a contract worker and time spent at each site will very based on work load, project size, and number of goats. The 2024 workplan has not been determined. Check back in May for where and when our goats will be back in action!

For questions about goats in the parks, email Erika at [email protected].​​


Goat work plan in 2023

The goat team worked on the Gallup islands in Gallup Park and also went to Broadway Park to address encroaching poison ivy. ​


Goat work plan in 2022

Gallup Park, Cobblestone Farm and Burr Oak Park. You can check out the highlights from Burr Oak ​Park  from last September here

Goat work plan in 2021: Broadway Park, Gallup Park and Cobblestone Farm

Goat work ​plan in 2020: Gallup Park (goat islands) and Cobblestone Farm

Goat debut in 2019 (view update) ​

Ten goats from Twin Willow Ranch in Milan, MI​, cleared poison ivy and buckthorn on two of Gallup's islands. This was a pilot project is part of an ongoing effort to clear out the overgrowth and invasive shrubbery as park staff work toward a long-term maintenance plan. The goats have come back every year since 2019 for touch ups and new jobs. We continue to monitor the effectiveness and evaluate this strategy. 

​The Herd​

Click the picture below to read the goats' biographies and learn a little more about our 2019 goat team.


​​Update:  July 2019

​The goats have been removed from the islands and are back on their farm. In three weeks, they cleared both islands of overgrown brush, poison ivy, and invasive plants. See the before and after pictures below to see just how dramatic this change was. View these photos and more in our facebook photo album​.






Goat Talk & Walk Su​cc​ess!

Thank to all who attended our three Goat Talk & Walk opportunities, asked questions, and volunteered! We calculated ​195 people gave a total of 322 hours of their time to beautifying Gallup park. We mulched trees and beds, weeded garden beds, and removed old plant bulbs.  Thank you ALL for your interest in our goats and giving some of your time to our parks!​​​


Goat Talk & Walk Images


​​​​​Next steps ​

​​Now that the goats are onto their next job, our parks department can take a clear inventory of the islands, determine how they can best be utilized by the public, and build a long-term maintenance plan. We expect some of the plants to grow back in the coming months, and it could take a few more pass-throughs, goat or human, ​to create more of a long-term impact.

​Additional Resources

Pilot Program Fact Sheet

Pres​​​​​s Release​​

Goats in the News

"Weeds got your goat? These goats will get your weeds" Novi Patch

"New York City park welcomes goats for weed eating" CBS News

"Goats are in charge of getting rid of poison ivy in this city" Associated Press​​

"Boston deploys goats against poison ivy in Hyde Park" ​Boston Globe

"Goats sink their teeth into poison ivy problem" USA Today