Sage Environmental Group is often asked, "are the weed seeds viable after they pass through the goat's digestive system?" "Aren't they just eliminating and spreading weed seeds throughout the grazing site thus defeating the purpose of grazing?"
We determined to conduct our own germination test to answer that question. Our herd of goats are an important part of our weed abatement approach.
We believe the weed seeds are destroyed sufficiently. A goat chews weed seeds then passes them through four stomachs in the digestion process.
Alissa Cope, Principal Restoration Ecologist, prepared and monitored three test samples as depicted in the photo.
First, she planted new native seeds, purchased from a grower, in new sterile soil. This served as the control to demonstrate that the seeds were viable. These seeds successfully sprouted.
Second, she planted the native seeds in sterile soil and added goat droppings. These native seeds also successfully sprouted. No weed seeds sprouted.
Third, she added goat droppings to the sterile soil, but did not include native seed. This was the determining step. Nothing grew from the goat droppings.
Conclusion, seeds are not viable once they have passed through the goat's digestive system.
Future Research: Sage is recruiting university students who are interested in participating in research. We plan to conduct a series of similar tests utilizing soil from a variety of grazing sites. If you are interested in joining this research project, get in touch.