CHEW CREW T-SHIRTS NOW FOR SALE
You can now purchase a Chew Crew t-shirt for only $10 (cash, check or credit card accepted)!
Available sizes : Youth XS, S, M, L Adult S, M, L, XL
Purchase one today at the Parks and Recreation Department's Administrative Office in City Hall (4200 Mills Civic Parkway) or at the Raccoon River Park Nature Lodge (2500 Grand Avenue) weekdays from 8am-5pm.
T-shirts will also be available for purchase at the Chew Crew event on June 3. (Cash or check only accepted on this day.)
CONSERVATION GRAZING...IT'S WHAT WE DO
Conservation grazing is a new trend in land management and can be done in almost any ecosystem. We have an interesting perspective on this land management technique that can be used to reduce invasive species or create a more diverse grassland or prairie habitat. Let us introduce ourselves. We are Casper, Flip Flop, Buck, Bandit, Sir Munchalot, Brownie, and Latte, Kiko goats. We get to travel around Iowa and do what we do best… EAT!
Kiko goats are a hardy bunch. We grow fast, thrive in all sorts of conditions, and we love to eat. We are “aggressive foragers”, which means we will actively find food. That is why we are so good at our job.
Our job? Yes, goats have a job! We have become increasingly popular to use to graze all sorts of areas. We have split hooves which are very efficient in all kinds of terrain. We aren’t mountain goats, but we can certainly go where lawn mowers can’t.
Our favorite place to graze is forests. We love to eat some of the nasty invasive species of the forest like honeysuckle, buckthorn, autumn olive, garlic mustard and even poison ivy. These invasive species take over or shade out native species that grow on the forest floor. When we eat the invasive species we inhibit their growth and give native species a fighting chance.
We think we have the best job of all. We eat a lot, and we get to climb on logs, hop on stumps and butt some heads in the process.
We are currently in Southwoods Park at 350 South 35th Street in West Des Moines. Let's just say that we have found some very tasty honeysuckle here! We work in a fenced off area and graze about an acre a week. We are excited to meet you and to show you the difference that we can make in your forest.
OUR GOAT PROFILES
I'm one of the two original "Get Your Goat" goats. I got my name because I am all white. I am very friendly and love to greet you humans. I'm always up for a good petting. I often stick my head into places I shouldn't and sometimes I need my owners' help to get it out!
I'm the other one of the two original "Get Your Goat" goats. I got my name because I have one ear that flips and one that flops. I also love to be petted and consider myself to be very friendly and gentle. I often head butt my owners' legs very softly to get their attention!
I came next to "Get Your Goat". I got my name because I am the color of a deer. I was very skittish when I first arrived, but Tammy, my patient owner, was able to "goat whisper" me into her lap. I tend to think that I am the ruler of the herd, and I will let the other goats know it. Don't tell them, though, that deep down, I'm a very loving guy!
I like to keep my owners on their toes, hence my name. I am still a bit skittish around people. I love to climb, jump, and butt heads with the other goats. I often try to act like Godzilla by trying to head butt and get into tangles with the BIG boys. I also pride myself on my quick escape skills!
I prefer to be called "Munch". My coat is black and white, similar to a dairy cow, and really only developed this coloring over this past winter. I get my name because my favorite thing to do is eat all day. I can often be found off by myself just chowing down. I much prefer eating over socializing!
As you can tell, I get my name because of my color. At nine months old, I am one of the two youngest goats of the herd. I like to use my voice to be heard, even if it sounds like a human kid sometimes. I also love my owners' attention and affection!
I am the other "youngest boy" of the group at 9 months old. You can probably guess why my name is Latte if you look at my cream colored belt and caramel coloring. I consider myself very friendly and will never shy away from some attention. I prefer to be in the middle of all the action, even if that means I have to be in the feeding trough in the winter months!
INVASIVE SPECIES WE CONTROL
An invasive plant is defined as a plant that is not native and has negative effects on our economy, environment, or human health. Not all plants introduced from other places are harmful. The term “invasive” is reserved for the most aggressive plant species that grow and reproduce rapidly, causing major changes to the areas where they become established. Invasive plants can affect your ability to enjoy natural areas, parks, and campgrounds. Hikers and cyclists enjoy well-maintained trails, and invasive plants can grow over trails to the point that the path cannot be followed or can be difficult to navigate through. Invasive plants threaten our native ecosystems by altering the natural communities that wild animals depend upon to produce food and cover. If invasive plants win, the native plants and wildlife lose, and so do the people who enjoy them.
- Aggressively invades oak forests, savannas, prairies and riparian woods, completely eliminating native plant diversity in the understory over time. It thrives particularly on well-drained soils.
- Plants leaf out early and retain leaves late into the fall creating dense shade.
- Seeds have laxative effect on birds who disperse them.
- Introduced to North America as ornamental shrubs.
- Garlic mustard spreads into high quality woodlands and floodplain forests, not just into disturbed areas.
- Invaded sites undergo a decline on native herbaceous cover within 10 years.
- Garlic mustard alters habitat suitability for native insects and thereby birds and mammals.
- This European exotic occurs now in 27 Midwestern and Northeastern states and in Canada.
Non-Native Bush Honeysuckle
- Exotic honeysuckle replace native forest shrubs and herbaceous plants by their invasive nature and early leaf-out. They shade out herbaceous ground cover and deplete soil moisture.
- Seeds are readily dispersed by birds.
- Some research suggests that the plant inhibits the growth of other plants in its vicinity.
- Introduced to North America as ornamental shrubs and beneficial to wildlife. Commercial propagation continues with many cultivars available from nurseries.
- Invades forest edges, woodlands, oak savannas, prairies, fields, pastures, and roadsides.
- Forms dense thickets which are painful to walk through and reduce populations of native plants.
- Reduces grazing quality by invading pastures and grazing lands.
- Multiflora rose was brought to the US from Japan in 1866 for rootstock for ornamental roses. Starting in the 1930s multiflora rose was widely planted in the US.
When we talk about invasive plants, we are usually referring to non-native plants. This isn't true for poison ivy, which is native to the eastern US. In fact, the name "poison ivy" was reputedly given by Capt. John Smith, of Pocahontas fame. Poison ivy is an opportunistic plant that readily locates itself in disturbed soil, or after a fire. As farmers and homesteaders cleared land, poison ivy adapted enthusiastically to the new opportunities.
Poison ivy is a master of disguise. As a vine, it is able to climb along the trunk of a tree; a mature vine can have a diameter of several inches. When leaves are gone, a hairy, ropy stem remains, which is just as risky to touch, often blending with the bark of the tree. Poison ivy can also stay on the ground, appearing shrubby or like brush. It will often hide among other plants, such as ivy or pachysandra.
There are actually two species of poison ivy common to our area: climbing and non-climbing. The two species have cross-bred so frequently, that poison ivy can have a range of characteristics and habitat. It seems that poison ivy only irritates humans. Goats will enthusiastically eat poison ivy, house pets are unaffected, and the red fall berries are a favorite food for birds.
CHECK OUT THE DIFFERENCE WE MADE!
Grazed Area (on left) vs. Ungrazed Area (on right)
WHO ARE OUR OWNERS?
We are owned and loved by Tammy and Deb of "Get Your Goat" in Ventura, Iowa. This is the first full year that they have used us for conservation grazing, and according to them, we are booked all summer! You can learn more about "Get Your Goat" on their Facebook page.
IF YOU WANT TO MEET US
We would love to have you come see us do our thing in Southwoods Park, but there are a few things you should know before you do.
1. Restrain your pets and children. Sometimes fast and loud creatures scare us, and when this happens we break all of our owners' rules and jump the fence. Although we have fun when we are outside the fence, our wranglers have to work pretty hard to get us back inside, and they seem to think that it would be dangerous if we were to find a busy road to try to cross.
2. We are kept inside our grazing area by a low voltage electric fence. Even though touching the fence won't really hurt you or me, it is quite a "shock" when it happens. So, it's just best not to get too close to the electric fence.
3. Although we love to eat, and may even look like we are begging you for food, please don't feed us. We have been given a specific prescribed diet of invasive species. Plus, human food is not necessarily good for us.
WHERE YOU CAN FIND US
Watch our TV debut on KCCI News Channel 8.
Check back often for more goat performances!
GOAT FUN FACTS
- Goats were the first animals domesticated by man in 10,000 B.C
- Most goats can be found in Asia and the Mid-East.
- Goats were the first animals to be used for milk by humans.
- There are over 210 breeds of goats in the world.
- There are approximately 450 million goats around the world.
- Goats were first brought to America by Columbus in 1493.
- Goats were regularly imported into America in the early 1900’s.
- The female goat is called a “doe” or “nanny.”
- The male goat is called a “buck” or “billy.”
- A castrated male goat is called a “wether.”
- A baby goat is called a “kid.”
- The act of giving birth is called “kidding.”
- The doe can have 1 to 6 kids per litter, however, 4 to 6 kids are rare.
- Goats do not have teeth in their upper front jaw.
- Goats have 24 molars and 8 incisors.
- Both male and female goats can have beards.
- Goats can be born with or without horns (polled).
- The natural life expectancy for goats is around 8 to 12 years and in some cases, goats can live over 15 years.
- Goats have a four chamber stomach that contains fermenting bacteria and protozoan that aid in breaking down their food.
- Wattles are those little tufts of hair that cover the skin that dangles from the throat of some goats. Wattles serve no function and are thought to be remnants of gill slits that mammals shared somewhere back down the evolutionary tree.
- Goats do not have tear ducts.