Goat trial on Crown land to reduce bushfire risk

Media release| 21 December 2021

Crown land near Mudgee in the Central West, Coolatai in North Western NSW and Rosewood in the Riverina is being used for trials of the use of goats to help assist with bushfire mitigation.

At Coolatai, a 50 strong goat herd has been hired as a result of a recommendation of the Independent Bushfire Inquiry into the Black Summer bushfires of 2019/20.

The trial is a joint initiative between the NSW Rural Fire Service, Crown Lands and Local Land Services.

The goats are strip grazing a 2.3-hectare block of land on the western edge of the village, chewing their way through heavy vegetation in areas that are difficult to clear through traditional hazard reduction techniques.

The area has been divided into 7 blocks which the herd will graze for approximately 6 to 8 weeks. It is estimated the goats will chew through about a quarter of a hectare of dense vegetation in two weeks, and medium density vegetation in one week.

Near Mudgee, another herd of 40 goats has been chewing through hectares of fuel loads on land including at Clandulla and Lue.

The goats are particularly useful in terrain where conventional mitigation methods, such as burning or mechanical clearing, prove challenging.

At Rosewood, about 20 goats are being used in a trial over a four-week period.

Goats are also used in California, Spain and Portugal to supplement hazard reduction burns, which are weather dependent unlike goats.

Rural Fire Service Commissioner Rob Rogers said grazing will mitigate against grass fires, particularly in areas where mitigation crews and local brigades find it hard to reduce fuel loads.

“This grazing trial has seen remarkable progress in reducing fuel loads in the Clandulla area and we’re keen for this to continue in the area,” Commissioner Rogers said.

Crown land near Mudgee being used for goat trials to reduce bushfire risk.Crown land near Coolatai being used for goat trials to reduce bushfire risk.