Abstract #T153

# T153
A demonstration on the use of small ruminants for unwanted vegetation management.
Enrique N. Escobar*1, Jorge J. Rodriguez2, Harry Taylor2, 1University of Maryland Extension-1890 Program, University of Maryland Eastern Shore (UMES), Princess Anne, MD, 2Department of Agriculture, Food and Resource Sciences, University of Maryland Eastern Shore (UMES), Princess Anne, MD.

The practice of using small ruminants to manage unwanted vegetation (noxious weeds, invasive species, weeds, etc.) is considered an environment favorable practice. Sheep and goats have a small environmental footprint and combined with their size and maneuverability allure their use as tools to manage unwanted vegetation. The main objective of this extension demonstration project was to develop a module with multiple components to propose solutions for management of unwanted vegetation using sheep and goats on Delmarva. During the spring and summer of 2014, 2 groups of sheep and goats were selected to be part of a vegetation management demonstration at the University of Maryland Eastern Shore. The animals were confined using cattle panels and steel posts to 2 main targeted areas. Area 1 consisted of 2 drain canal sites with a total area of 2160.24 m2 and contained mixed understory, predominantly multiflora rose (Rosa multiflora). Area 2 consisted of steep banks in 2 lagoons with a combined target area of 1,670.97 m2. The vegetation was predominantly horseweed (Coniza canadensis). To estimate dry matter available for consumption, vegetation samples were collected from random sites (1 m2). The collected samples were weighed, air-dried and sent to a laboratory for analysis. The vegetation’s total digestible nutrients for the ditch and lagoon locations were 54.25% and 51.40%, respectively. Percent protein was higher in Area 1 than the lagoon location, 9.25% and 4.98%, respectively. Acid detergent fiber percentage was similar, 45.90% for the canals and 45.98% for the lagoon banks. In Area 1 there were 419.3 kg Dry Matter (DM) available for consumption and 1019.3 kg DM on Area 2. The results obtained showed that in Area 1 it took 29 d to obtain an average disappearance of unwanted vegetation of 83% using 10 does and 10 ewes (average BW 35.6 kg). While in Area 2, it took 40 sheep and goat wethers (average BW 41.3 kg) 28 d remove 95% of unwanted vegetation. The measurement of vegetation disappearance is a key component for future studies to estimate the number of sheep and goats necessary to manage vegetation in targeted areas.

Key Words: unwanted vegetation, small ruminant, environmental impact