A buffet fit for goats | New
SHARON – Kim Powell loves goats.
That’s why she came back on Wednesday, when the goats returned to Sharon to munch on all the poison ivy along the bank of the Shenango River.
Powell, a resident of the Hermitage, was one of 16 volunteers who showed up to greet the goats. Last year they ate the weeds on both sides of the river bank, but missed the poison ivy which had not germinated by this time last year.
“For anyone who cares about the environment or the city, it’s so nice to be able to clean up this area more so people walking around the park can see the river, which is so nice,” said said Powell.
The poison ivy that goats will chew does not affect them in the same way as it would humans. Goats have special intestinal enzymes that break down plant oils, which are on every part of the plant and leave people with an itchy rash. Goats can get these oils on their coat by eating and pass them on to humans.
Sharon’s Beautification Commission is in charge of bringing back the goats.
The organization will pay $2,260 for the goats to clear the west side of the shoreline of poison ivy for approximately 1.3 miles between the Connelly Boulevard Bridge and Budd Street.
Ann U’Halie, volunteer goat organizer and Beautification Commission member, said she has several other volunteers signed up – about 30 – to care for the goats.
“I have a lot of people coming over from Youngstown this year to volunteer,” U’Halie said. “A lot of people have texted me asking where the goats are going to be.”
Powell said it’s so refreshing that the city is being eco-friendly by using the goats.
“Instead of using gasoline weed killers or chemicals,” Powell said.
Allegheny Goatscape of Pittsburgh has about 50 goats and three donkeys. They brought one of their herds – 14 goats and their “supervisor”, a donkey named Diamond – to the bank of the Sharon River.
Allegheny Goatscape staff said that of the 14 goats, the three little ones, named Oreo, Patoski and Al, are Nigerian dwarfs. They are the only male goats in the herd. Three nearly earless goats, named Lucky Lou, Jewell, and Elsa, are LaMancha goats. Two goats named Robbie and Meg are alpine goats. The rest of the goats, which are a bit larger than the Nigerian Dwarfs, are Nubian Dwarf goats.
The volunteers have been instructed to count the goats, make sure the fence hasn’t fallen and check their water supply when they come in for their shift.
They also like to be brushed, especially Diamond the donkey, according to Allegheny Goatscape staff.
Volunteers are allowed to give the goats treats, including compost staples like citrus fruits or banana peels. Goats, which have a reputation for eating almost anything, have certain dietary limitations – they cannot eat foods like tomatoes, peppers or potatoes.
Goat trainers are particularly attentive to the feeding of goats. Years ago, someone gave the goats something that caused them to die.
So the staff asked the public not to feed the goats and to stay out of the fenced area.
But people are welcome to visit Sharon and watch the goats until they leave on July 1.
“We are thrilled to have the goats back in town,” said City Manager Bob Fiscus. “It’s important for the removal of overgrown vegetation along the banks, but it also has entertainment value. People go to visit the goats and we welcome all visitors.
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