A team of Old Irish Goats have been drafted in to partake in a conservation grazing project on Howth Head in Dublin, with the team deployed to their new home this week.

This is part of a three-year project involving the Old Irish Goat Society and Fingal County Council.

Taking to social media this morning (Wednesday, September 8) The Old Irish Goat Society said:

“We are delighted to announce that the ground-breaking conservation grazing project, with Old Irish Goats, on Howth Head, in the Dublin Bay UNESCO Biosphere Reserve will start today.

“A group of 25 Old Irish Goats, originating from the national herd in Mulranny, Co. Mayo, are travelling with Melissa, their herder, and will arrive today in Howth as the first phase of the project gets underway.”

According to the society, the project will utilise traditional methods of management; a goat herder and sheepdogs.

However, in more of a break from tradition, the project will be the first in Ireland to trial the Norwegian “No-fence” system which employs GPS tracking.

The goats will play an important role in managing growth to reduce fire risk to homes, while also enhancing the biodiversity of the priority heathland habitats, the society says.

This builds on previous observations by the group that wildfires have become a regular occurrence on Howth Head, as gorse, scrub, bracken and heather vegetation has increased in height.

“This has resulted in a highly flammable landscape. Ireland’s native breed of goat will be used, aside from tackling gorse, to create linear firebreaks to protect homes, increase structural diversity in the heather, eat invasive tree seedlings and reduce bracken cover.

“The Old Irish goat has the ability to control the accumulation of gorse, especially after fires and due to their skilful grazing behaviour and efficient digestive systems, adapt to feeding on harsher environments.”

The goats effectively offer a more economical and sustainable solution to managing the landscape, the society concludes.