Wednesday, November 4, 2020 (9:53 am)
OC Fair & Event Center now using goats as landscapers in challenging areas
They are quite the sight at OC Fair & Event Center, a herd of 18 Angora goats chomping away at weeds while their trusty miniature donkey guards keep watch.
The animals are hard at work solving problems by clearing weeds and improving the soil on the berm around Pacific Amphitheatre.
“The berm is a challenging area for our landscaping crew and the goats are the perfect solution, but we do have some coyotes around the property so the two miniature donkeys will help protect the herd,” said Barbara Gregerson, OC Fair & Event Center’s Landscape Supervisor. “Not only will the goats and donkeys eat the vegetation, they will fertilize and break up the soil, preparing it for planting.”
Gregerson developed the animal landscaping program to reduce erosion, maximize water filtration and improve the resilience of the soil. Once the soil improves, the ultimate goal is to create a diverse habitat of California native plants that invite birds, butterflies and other pollinators.
The berm has been divided into quadrants where the animals will be rotated to evenly work the land. In addition to the weeds and grasses on the berm, the goats will have shelter, water and supplemental feed to ensure they are getting a well-rounded diet. They will also receive regular veterinary care like the animals that reside year-round at nearby Centennial Farm.
The goats and miniature donkeys are on loan from Eureka Mohair Farm in Tollhouse, CA, a longtime competitor in the annual OC Fair livestock competitions. They will be on the property through December and will return in March and work until the annual OC Fair in July. The plan is then to have the animal landscapers back again in September through December 2021 and continue the pattern for a couple of years.
The annual cost of the program is almost the same as using traditional landscapers. There were fencing and shelter costs to get the program up and running and OC Fair & Event Center will cover feed and veterinary care for the animals in exchange for their labor. Gregerson says the expenses basically even out.
Centennial Farm and Heroes Hall veterans museum are reopening to the public tomorrow, Nov. 3. Hours are Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday, 11 a.m.-3 p.m. Free admission and parking; masks and reservations are required. To reserve a time to visit Centennial Farm and Heroes Hall, go to ocfair.com/reservations.
Visitors to Centennial Farm and Heroes Hall may catch a glimpse of the goats donkeys at work on the berm, but there is no public viewing area at this time.