I kid you not.

Kids love scavenger hunts. Apparently, goats do too. After hiding index cards all over the Arboretum for a “Science for ImageHomeschoolers” scavenger hunt, I returned with my students to find the mammal card I had thoughtlessly tied to the goat enclosure…eaten. Lily trotted over at our arrival, belly swinging in sync with her ambling gait.

Common belief holds that goats will eat just about anything. This is not quite true: goats will try just about anything once—including index cards, it seems—but ultimately prefer some foods over others. Homeowners interested in four-legged lawnmowers should be forewarned: unlike sheep, goats do not naturally gravitate to grasses, preferring instead leafy vegetation.

The Arboretum’s goats are used as an environmental alternative to herbicides, clearing invasive weeds from thickets along the forest edge. Two youthful arrivals have recently been added to the herd. Their food of choice is star-shaped sweet gum leaves; feel free to drop some through the fence, as long as you are careful to keep your hands outside the fence. A few nice, green leaves might be just what they need after a foray into paper products.

by Jenny Houghton
Youth Program Coordinator

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