A herd of 40 firefighting goats is chewing through hectares of fuel loads near Mudgee as the NSW Rural Fire Service (RFS) continues its Hazard Reduction Grazing trial in the state’s Central West.
The goats, sourced from local business Dry Creek Farm, ‘cell-graze’ between different patches of undergrowth through high-risk areas, including Clandulla and Lue.
The goats are particularly useful in terrain where conventional mitigation methods, such as burning or mechanical clearing, prove challenging.
The trial commenced in August and will take place over several months and in different locations across NSW. It is estimated the goats will eat approximately a quarter of a hectare of dense vegetation in two weeks, and medium density vegetation in one week.
The grazing trial responds to recommendation 21 (c) of the Independent Bushfire Inquiry into the Black Summer bushfires of 2019/20.
That, in order to improve understanding of optimal hazard reduction techniques and their application in the landscape:
• Government commission research into a range of other hazard reduction techniques to understand better the cost versus benefit and effectiveness of different practices in various circumstances, including grazing
RFS Commissioner Rob Rogers said grazing will mitigate against grass fires, particularly in areas where mitigation crews and local brigades find it hard to reduce fuel loads.
“This grazing trial has seen remarkable progress in reducing fuel loads in the Clandulla area and we’re keen for this to continue in the area,” Commissioner Rogers said.
The NSW Government has committed almost half-a-billion dollars in response to the Inquiry, which includes almost $38 million for additional mitigation crews to deliver greater hazard reduction, with a total of 176,499 hectares treated in 2020-2021.