Newspaper article from Ferry County View August 2010
Local rancher turns love of goats into business
Written by Mary Masingale
Some days, weeds can really get your goat. But not if you’re Wayne Konz. After a childhood on a cattle ranch and several years serving on the local weed board, the local farrier was well aware of the need for effective weed control. His love for animals, especially his goats, gave him inspiration for a unique way to fill the need.
Enter Bill, Ted, Helen, Bart, Grace, Margaret, Sheila, Sir William and the rest of the gang, about 30 in all. These are Wayne’s “employees,” ruminants with four-chambered stomachs that will eat just about anything that grows, anywhere. They can get to places lawnmowers or even people with weedeaters can’t touch, and the fertilizer they leave behind is largely inert, or free of weed seeds.
Wayne (left) and Sir William.
Dubbed the “Goat Patrol,” Wayne and his herd have been setting up shop in area fields since Spring. He uses his own solar-powered electric fencing to keep the goats focused. “The size of the enclosure was tough to figure out,” says Konz, “Too much space and they only picked through the food; not enough and somebody was organizing a breakout.”
The goats are indiscriminate, clearing not only weeds but brush and shrubs. Wayne has even observed them stripping the bark off mature knapweed plants, killing them. He did notice that buck brush and other shrubs are eaten back, but return with vigor the next spring.
Besides the annihilation of seeds, the other conservation benefits are obvious: the occasional “baah” is a more pastoral sound than obnoxious machinery, and they leave no cancer-causing residue like many chemicals that get into our streams and groundwater.
Wayne prepares the enclosure
The cost is about $1.50 per goat per day. A recent job took 20 goats about a week to completely clear two or three acres … not a lot of “doe” for environmentally-sensitive weed control. The Goat Patrol can be reached at (509) 954-7682.