Queensland Rail employs goat herd to manage vegetation

The rail operator took inspiration from Melbourne’s Metro network on the idea to use goats as an eco-friendly solution.

Noah Bovenizer November 15 2023

Australian rail operator Queensland Rail has employed a herd of goats to manage hazardous vegetation along its railway line.

The herd of 15 goats has been deployed to cut down tall grass and weeds near Tully railway station in Far North Queensland as an alternative option to manage the overgrown vegetation.

Queensland Rail head of regional Scott Cornish described the goats as a safe and environmentally friendly way of tackling the problem: “In addition to their extensive chomping experience, they are able manoeuvre around the most hard to reach places, climbing steep and rocky terrain with ease—spots that our heavy machinery simply can’t access. 

“A one-acre area near Tully station was identified as the perfect spot for the trial and we expect the goats to not only keep weeds away but also make the seeds of the invasive weeds non-viable.” 

While the interesting use of animals for railway infrastructure management is a first for Queensland Rail, it’s not the first time they have been used in the industry, with the Melbourne Metro network hiring a herd in 2019. 

The idea for the initial eight-week trial came about when Queensland Rail spoke to NQ Vegetation Management (Norveg) after hearing about the similar trials in other areas and learning that the company had its own herd. 

While some may be concerned about the safety of the goats operating near a railway track, Norveg owner Christina Forrest said the goats love being in the area and safety was probably the most critical factor in the process.

Forrest said: “We can tap in at any time to check in on the goats and see how they are, check on how much water they have, we can check to make sure the electric fence is working and we can do all that remotely and that’s really important in keeping them safe.”

The goats have become popular online and with locals and though they have been hired on an eight-week contract for now, Queensland Rail have said there is a possibility of extending their contract after the trial at Tully.

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