Goats get to butt prickly acacia at Longreach

Goats get to butt prickly acacia at Longreach

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Colin Forrest, Oakley, Longreach with one of the thousands of prickly acacia plants he has uprooted. He says the landscape behind him was once a solid wall of prickly acacia plants.

Colin Forrest, Oakley, Longreach with one of the thousands of prickly acacia plants he has uprooted. He says the landscape behind him was once a solid wall of prickly acacia plants.

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A COMBINATION of animals and mechanics are reducing prickly acacia for Longreach goat producer Colin Forrest.

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DENSE stands of prickly acacia on Colin Forrest's Longreach property are being reduced, thanks to a combination of animals and mechanics.

Rather than attack the introduced weed with chemicals - Colin declares he is "allergic to pouring diesel on the ground" - he knocks them down with a D4 dozer before letting his goat herd loose.

As well as feeding on the downed trees, the goats are eating the new growth.

Colin told the 53 participants on the Queensland Weed Symposium field trip last Wednesday prickly acacia had been brought to Oakley from Maxwelton "by the bucketload" by a previous owner.

He has been controlling the problem for the past 11 years and making use of its fodder properties at the same time.

This is especially valuable as drought in the Longreach region becomes more extreme.

Since February 2013 the Forrests have recorded just 42mm of rain.

Colin says he would normally run between 1500 and 1800 nannies. A recent quote of $4.20/kg out of the Charleville abattoir recently makes them just as viable as other types of stock.

Colin has also sold young wether goats to Richmond, for export through Townsville port, and has exported goats to Malaysia.

The decision to use a dozer to push the prickly acacia trees came when he was advised that stick raking would exacerbate regrowth.

"I was told not to use a chain either because there would be too much soil disturbance," he said.

"I hit the trees with the blade and lift them slightly. The tree

either comes out or it breaks the tap root."

On an average day Colin deals with 300 to 400 trees in two hours.

"It was so thick around the dams I couldn't get down the dam bank."

He told the field trip he has seen grass returning to areas treated six or seven years ago.

Even when there was grass, he said the goats chose to browse a lot of the time.

Despite his efforts Colin didn't believe the property would be rid of prickly acacia in his lifetime.

"There's a lot of seed there," he said.

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