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Goats versus kudzu

Ron and Cheryl Searcy of Wells Farm in Horseshoe, N.C. release goats onto property across from IGA on Wednesday, June 12. (photo by Gwen Ring)

Ron and Cheryl Searcy of Wells Farm in Horseshoe, N.C. release goats onto property across from IGA on Wednesday, June 12. (photo by Gwen Ring)

A trailer pulled up to property across from Tryon’s IGA grocery store Wednesday, June 12 and released a load of goats to munch to pulp the kudzu and other invasive plants covering the ground and trees.

The effort is being made by the Pacolet Area Conservancy in conjunction with the Town of Tryon and the Polk County Extension Office to eradicate kudzu. The Polk County Community Foundation is funding the project through a grant from its Kudzu Eradication Initiative.

Goats from Ron and Cheryl Searcy brought the goats from Wells Farm of Horseshoe, N.C. The goats will work to eat the kudzu at the site for three weeks and will come back twice a year for three years.

According to the Pacolet Area Conservancy, kudzu can grow up to one foot per day and “creates a solid blanket of leaves and vines that smother out and compete with our native species.”

A flier provided by PAC said goats are used for several key reasons: they are versatile, are cost effective, are environmentally safe, create less noise than machinery and do a good job at eradicating the weed.

Kudzu was classified as a weed in 1972 after being introduced in the 1920s and 30s as fodder for animals and erosion control.

A Great Pyrenees named Reba stays with the goats, which range from 1 to 8-years-old. Reba protects the goats from random coyotes or other loose dogs, the Searcy’s said.