Landscape architecture students maintain meadow with goats

K-State's Marianna Kistler Beach Museum of Art lies on the far south side of campus, serving as a consistent location for students to view different types of artwork. (File Photo | Collegian Media Group)

Goats are not normally an animal that would be on campus. But, thanks to Kansas State University’s environmental ethics students and the Beach Museum of Art, goats will be seen in the meadow near McCain Auditorium and the museum.

The project will happen twice this year — once in the spring and once in early summer.

Katie Kingery-Page, associate professor of landscape architecture and project manager, said the group doesn’t use any weed killers in the meadow, only manual methods of taking out weeds.

Kingery-Page said the meadow is maintained with goats to preserve the integrity of the species growing in the area. The meadow, she said, has wonderful plants and wildlife such as Monarch Butterflies, and the group doesn’t want it to get run over by other species.

“In reading about how to suppress cool season grasses in a situation like this where we can’t burn this little patch of the meadow, there are some researchers that talk about grazing with an intensive animal that eat quite a bit, like a goat,” Kingery-Page said.

Carson Scheer, sophomore in landscape architecture, said Kingery-Page pushed for the project and put a lot of work into designing the meadow.

“We can’t put buffalo out in the meadow, so goats are the next best thing,” Scheer said.

Lindsey Smith, exhibition designer at the Beach Museum of Art, said they are experimenting by bringing in a couple of goats to see how much they will eat the tall fescue — a type of flowering grass — in the meadow. It’s working, Smith added, but it is a couple weeks later than needed.

Smith said the goats can be managed, and it was all made possible from a local family who has partnered with the project.

“The goats are very comfortable in the meadow and very people friendly, but we don’t want a bunch of kids out here because then they will get distracted and won’t eat,” Smith said.

Jim Beckman, the owner of the goats, said he has had no problem working with the department of landscape architecture. It is not uncommon to bring their goats to clear out a brush area.

“It is a grassy area and the goats will mow it down good and it just depends on what other plants are in there,” Beckman said.