You might run into a herd of chomping goats at this Toronto park

If you spot a large herd of goats at Don Valley Brick Works in Toronto this week, it’s for an eco-friendly cause.

The City of Toronto is using “goat grazing” to help maintain the urban meadow at Don Valley Brick Works Park. On Wednesday and Thursday, a specialized “eco-herd” of goats (about 40 of them) will be brought to the meadow to address woody and invasive plant species as part of a pilot project.

“The safety and welfare of the goats, the public and staff is of the utmost importance in the Prescribed Grazing Pilot Project,” the City stated in a news release. “The goats are provided a secure enclosure, where they can graze in a herd, which is a natural behaviour. The goats are never used for purposes other than grazing and are always provided direct access to water and shelter, with 24-hour supervision and on-call veterinary care while in the park. “

According to the City, to increase habitat diversity in Toronto, some areas of natural parkland are being maintained as meadow habitats. Many of these meadows are considered “sub-successional” habitat types, meaning that if they were left alone, they’d become forests over time (as trees and shrubs would begin to take root) or they might become overtaken by invasive species. This is why prescribed grazing is important.

Prescribed grazing involves using livestock to address issues such as invasive plant species, woody vegetation encroachment and soil improvement.  The benefits include improving species diversity over time and improving soil nutrients — plus, it’s just pretty darn cute to see!

Currently, urban meadows and prairies within Toronto are managed using a variety of techniques, such as herbicide application, mowing, and burning. The prescribed grazing pilot project is a new, environmentally friendly tool for meadow management.

The kiko goats being provided to the city are from Goats in the City Inc., a target-grazing company in King City. These goats can eat between three to four per cent of their body weight every day. At an average weight of 160 pounds, each goat eats about seven pounds of vegetation daily, which would take 60 goats about three days to consume one acre of vegetation!

If the pilot is deemed successful, the City will consider bringing the goats back to Don Valley Brick Works Park in future years for rotational grazing — we’re crossing our fingers!

You can watch the goats at work from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. on both days! Click here for more info.