by Christine Ina Casillas | Elbert County News | June 17, 1999
ELIZABETH. Along rivers, steep, rocky cliffs, under brushes and in fields noxious weeds grow and destroy the habitat for plants, animals and the economy.
The State mandates a program requiring landowners to control listed noxious weeds on their property, but some landowners do not believe in spraying.
While noxious weeds continue to spread in dominoes effect, food prices increase throughout the country.
Noxious weeds are such a problem because horses and cattle will not touch it; however, Lani Lamming of Ewe4ic Ecological Services has provided an alternative approach to weed fighting that is “simple, logical, however, often overlooked.”
Lamming provides a weed fighting service that not only benefits the economy but also the environment as well as society.
“Instead of aggressive weeds pushing and pulling and destroying the land, our service puts ‘selection pressure’ the other way, where the grass can expand, reversing the psychology on the weed,” Lamming said.
Lamming’s services provide no down time, their employees work around the clock in a suitable climate, making their own living by grazing on acres of property.
Lamming owns more than 350 goats, migrating from Jackson Hole to Utah up through the Western Slope of Colorado.
“I’m a cattle rancher by background,” she said. “I’m used to handling and transporting 1,000 to 5,000 head of animals. I learned how to use them as a tool, relying on cultural methods of grazing and manipulating the land.”
With a master’s degree in weed science, Lamming said she volunteered with sheep grazing for her master’s thesis, and she “got the idea to use grazing animals as a way of destroying noxious weeds.”
“Leafy spurge didn’t work with spray,” she said. “We needed an effective way of taking care of the problem, and goats are more effective than sheep because they prefer noxious weeds.”
Lamming said she never saw a goat in her life, but when she spotted two cashmere goats, she knew it was the animal to use for her service business.
“Cashmere goats are small, but they’re not too small,” she said. “They’re non-threatening, mellow and intelligent. Their size and personality was perfect for the business.”
Krista Algien, Lamming’s co- partner, commented on the animal’s intelligence: “They tell me if they’re hungry. When it rains, they’ll let me know if they’re cold or hurt. They talk to you.”
Lamming bought a whole herd of cashmere goats from a Kiowa resident, then started her services.
“We had to provide everything as a service; we didn’t have a choice,” she said. “Our services include the goats, fence, knowledge, labor, water tanks, on site, camp …anything to control noxious weeds.”
She said she provides everything but the food, because the goats “make their own living.”
“They eat nothing but noxious weeds,” she said, laughing. “Nothing’s being wasted, and the weeds must be taken care of by law.
“Where some people don’t believe in spraying, the goats are available.”
She said the enzymes in the goats’ liver, gut and saliva breaks down herbicides that could kill other animals.
“Noxious weeds don’t harm goats because their diet is natural,” she said. “Their favorite food in the world is leafy spurge.”
She said goat grazing is intense grazing under a short duration that is based on Holistic Resource Management Principles.
The goal of the landowner is to control noxious weeds, she said.
“We look at the property and give it a price,” she said. “Each land gets a unique price based on water hauling, fencing, etc. It’s always different. But, as a rule of thumb, it’s $100 an acre.”
She said the goats are not only economically resourceful but also environmentally resourceful.
“Goats are self-propelled and seek noxious weeds,” she said. ‘The hoof action of the animals tramples litter pellets, conditions soil surface, tillages, mulches old plant growth without disturbing other plant life, grasses, etc.”