A breakthrough in brush-eating goat breeding and a presentation by a South African expert on the use of fire and goats to control brush will highlight a "Natural Brush Control Seminar" to be held from 10 a.m. - noon on Feb. 8 at the Texas AgriLife Research Center at Sonora.
The AgriLife Research Center, formerly the Sonora Research Station, is located 28 miles south of Sonora on State Highway 55.
Dr. Charles "Butch" Taylor, Center superintendent, said Dr. Erika Campbell, post-doctoral research associate and toxicologist at the Center, will discuss her work in identifying goats purposely bred to control juniper, commonly called cedar.
"Campbell has discovered a breakthrough in identifying goats with higher physiological tolerances for juniper," Taylor said. "This work, coupled with other research conducted here at the center, now gives us a way to positively identify and select goats that can safely eat this serious pest without ill affects."
Taylor said if properly managed, the goats should allow ranchers to increase their property's livestock-carrying capacity on juniper-infested rangelands without the danger of over-harvesting their desirable vegetation.
The seminar's other speaker will be Dr. Winston Smuts Watts Trollope, former head of the department of livestock and pasture science, University of Fort Hare, South Africa.
Trollope, an internationally known authority on prescribed burning, is in the U.S. to attend and present at the International Range Meetings in Louisville, Ky., according to Taylor. He will travel from Kentucky to Sonora to speak on the long-term effects and the economics of using fire and goat grazing to control brush on the arid savannas of South Africa's Eastern Cape.
"Trollope's research provides us with a greater understanding of the role fire plays as a range management practice for both livestock and wildlife management," Taylor said. "His results have important implications for management of our Texas rangelands."
Taylor said the seminar is free and open to the public.
"I realize we're a little off the beaten path here, but I urge ranchers interested in controlling their juniper to attend this seminar," he said. "I think it will be well worth their time.
For more information, contact the AgriLife Center at 325-387-3168 or e-mail: [email protected].