On a farm in Strong City, Kansas, a herd of nearly 70 goats grazes in a pasture, doing their part to improve the environment.
Rex Rutledge of Beaumont, Kansas owns an eco-friendly weed and invasive plant removal business and his herd of goats.
The company, Restoration Grazing, is part of the Goats on the Go Network, a group of independent business owners using goats for targeted grazing, a method of weed and plant control that is beneficial to all people. involved.
“For one thing, you’re not using herbicides or chemicals that will just be better for your soil biology,” Rutledge said. “Soil microbes will have a chance to live instead of being sprayed with chemicals. You don’t use a big tractor to clear land with a rear PTO or something like that. The only shows I have involved in this is bringing them here on my truck.
“Grassland grazing is how it evolved,” he said. “You graze these plants and they are stimulated to develop deeper roots to absorb more nutrients to regrow. It’s a beneficial thing for the soil, the plants, everything. It’s a kind of functioning ecosystem .
Rutledge launched her business earlier this year after her fiance got a job on a ranch in Beaumont.
“I wanted to work with animals,” Rutledge said. “Goats are quite accessible and much cheaper to buy than cattle.”
He completed his first project in early June, with Strong City Farm being his third project to date. To find it, customers either heard about Rutledge through word of mouth or found it through Goats on the Go.
“I’ll call them, and I like to explain to them how it all works, how I get the goats out, how I contain them, whatever I supply for the job, just to get an idea if the goats are going to suit them,” he said. “If we both agree that they are, I will schedule a site visit with them where I will come to their property and I will just have a better view and a better feel for the land and I will really make sure the goats are the right thing. It’s quite an expensive service and I don’t want anyone to be disappointed with the results they see.
Although the service can be expensive, it’s still cheaper than more harmful alternatives, Rutledge said.
“I think it’s cheaper than conventional herbicides, pesticides. It’s expensive these days, especially this year with everything going on,” he said.
“And it’s more enjoyable,” he added. “These people here would much rather see these goats peacefully doing what they are doing there than a tractor driving with a big old boom sprayer.”
For a given job, Rutledge will build a pen for the goats before letting them into the field on their way to work.
“When they’re on a project, I usually come in to see them every day, fill up on water and make sure everyone’s alive and well and they’re all there,” he said. -he declares. “It’s pretty easy to navigate from there.”
Paddocks range from a quarter acre to an acre at a time, depending on the size of the project. Rutledge will then move the paddock around the property to clear any areas desired by the client.
“Their pleasure. You sit and watch them for an hour, you can tell they all have different personalities, different tendencies, and they have friends in the herd that they hang out with more than others,” Rutledge said. “There’s a whole culture of stuff going on there.”
It takes about three days for goats to clear an acre, more or less a few days depending on the density of the brush.
“They definitely have a hierarchy of foods that they like to eat,” Rutledge said. “They’ll start with poison ivy or deerbrush, or in this case sericea, first, and then move on to some of the less desirable herbaceous and broadleaf plants.”
“Finally they will start eating grass,” he added. “Anytime you see them start eating grass, it’s time to move them to fresh food.”
The rates for the service depend on the job, the distance from Beaumont, the ease of the fencing job and the area.
“With the Goats on the Go Network, we kind of have a range or territory that I stay in,” Rutledge said. “It spans Sedgwick County, Butler County, Elk County and Greenwood County but there are currently no other branches in Chase County and I am closest to that location , so I come here to do this job.”
Those interested in Restoration Grazing’s services can contact Rutledge at 850-543-4205 or find him on the Goats on the Go webpage, where you can also find other affiliates throughout Kansas and the United States.
Rutledge will be at Pioneer Bluffs in Matfield Green on July 30 to speak at Clean Eating Kansas. He will be bringing some of his goats for participants to observe and learn about their work in environmentally friendly weed and plant removal.
Going forward, Rutledge hopes to grow the business even further, becoming a supplier for those hoping to eat healthy in Kansas.
“Long term, with my goat business, I would like to sell goats for meat, not just grazing service,” he said. “I like to think that I turn people’s unwanted, harmful weeds and plants into nutrient-dense meat, and that’s pretty cool, I think.”