Goats are the latest weapon in bushfire prevention in New South Wales.
- Goats recruited to help with bushfire hazard reduction
- The animals are being used to graze weeds and let native grasses flourish
- The trial was borne from a NSW inquiry into the Black Summer bushfires
The animals are the latest recruits to join the world’s largest volunteer team of firefighters.
Forty goats have been involved in a trial in the state’s central west to see whether they can help the New South Wales Rural Fire Service (RFS) with bushfire prevention efforts by grazing grass and scrublands.
“They’ve done an absolutely fantastic job,” said RFS Inspector Troy Gersback.
“It was really fantastic to see in these couple of small areas we’ve already trialled, to see such great success.”
Hungry for success
The animals have been chosen because they tend to eat anything.
“Goats are browsers, and they’ll eat a lot more weedy sort of things than other domestic animals,” said the goats’ owner Billie Johnstone.
“That’s why they can be useful in areas which have not been rotationally grazed regularly.
“They can turn what is growing there into fertility, so they eat them, they turn them into poo, and we’ve noticed it becomes a lot less weedy.”
The goats have so far grazed two parcels of land in the Mudgee district.
“We actually did a few little test burns just to confirm what we thought would happen, would actually happen.
“The fire will start, but it will only teeter around.
“It’s not going to develop into what we call a crown fire, a very large fire.”
New tool in ‘toolbox’
A second trial has started on land near a health facility at Werris Creek near Tamworth in the state’s northwest.
Inspector Gersback said using grazing to reduce the fire risk was less complicated than other hazard reduction techniques.
“You don’t want smoke near a health facility. It creates a whole range of other problems that we have to manage,” he said.
It also can be used all year round, regardless of the weather conditions.
The trial has come out of an independent inquiry into the Black Summer bushfires, which recommended expanding grazing in hazard reduction programs.
The RFS is set to extend the trial to other parts of the state, including Greater Sydney, the north and south coasts and Tumut in the Riverina.
The RFS says it hopes the animals’ involvement will help reduce the fire threat by the next bushfire season.
“If we factor goats into our toolbox, and we can find more places to use the goats, we will use them,” RFS Chief Superintendent Jayson McKellar said.
“We will use them like we use hazard reduction burning or clearing.”
Posted , updated