How to kill Poison Ivy without chemicals

Clinton Morse - EEB Greenhouse Manager ebgadm01 at UCONNVM.UCONN.EDU
Tue Aug 19 06:27:46 EST 1997

At 08:43 PM 8/18/97 -0400, Ross Koning wrote:
>At 5:33 PM -0400 8/18/97, VryGd1 at wrote:
>>I have an area that I am clearing that will be used to raise goats.  There
>>is a substantial amount of poison ivy there and I want to remove it.  I do
>>not want it to grow back and I do not want to use Atrizine or any other
>>chemical.  Does anyone know of an organic solution to this problem?
>>Please include specific ingredients and quantities and application rates.
>>Thank you
>I'm not sure about the sensitivity of goats
>to poison ivy...but it would not surprise me
>if the goats took care of the problem by

Those goats will love the Toxicodendron!  My goats are pack goats and so I
do not milk them so I would check with a vet as far as how long to wait
before consuming the milk (if the resins are even passed along, good chance
they aren't)  Also, you may not want your goats 'kissing' you (if they are
affectionate goats) as any resins could easily pass along to you from them.

Goats can and will eat just about anything and have developed a digestive
system that allows them to do this well.  Goats always get a bad rap for
'causing' desertification in some countries.  Well that is only because the
land in question was mis-managed and the goats are brought in as the last
possible species that can subsist on what the horses, cows, etc have left
behind.  The last in line gets the blame....

The biggest issue for goats is diversity - given a wide range of plants to
browse, they will sample a little of this, a little of that - thus ensuring
they do not overdo any one species.  This also assumes there are not more
goats than the land can support.   The only species in the northeast that I
need to be sensitive to is Mountain Laurel (Kalmia latifolia) and Bracken
Fern.  I have been told that both of these are very toxic to goats.
However, mine routinely munch on both with no harmful effects.  The point
being is that I do not allow them to park at a mountain laurel and denude
the plant - which they would not tend to do unless confined to an area next
to such a plant.  What laurel they get is just a small portion of a very
diverse meal.  I've also been told that goats should in no way, shape or
form eat oak (Quercus sp.)  Mine live for a good oak snack on the trail -
never had a problem.

If you do opt to go the herbicide route - I would second Ross's rec and use
the glyphosate.  It is systemic and will kill the roots (perhaps a few
application needed for mature Poison Ivy) and will be non-residual. You can
be selective about where it is applied by mixing it and applying it with a
wide foam paintbrush - just brushing on the leaves of the plants you want
to kill.  If you spray, you will likely get some drift and affect more
plants than you wnat. There are so-called organic herbicides (Safers Soap
at a higher concentration,for example) but these merely cause a leaf burn
and the plants will rebound from the roots in 7-10 days so you get nowhere.  

Hope this helps...

Clinton Morse - Greenhouse Manager
Department of Ecology & Evolutionary Biology
75 North Eagleville Rd., Box U-42
University of Connecticut, Storrs CT 06269
E-Mail to: ebgadm01 at
WWW Server(s): 
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