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Angelo State University
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Mesquite Seed Dispersal Research

Manipulating Mesquite Seed Dispersal

Mesquite is the largest brush problem in Texas, despite more than 50 years of control efforts. We believe that a large reason for the limited success often reported with brush control programs is related to the relatively rapid rate of reinvasion by mesquite following brush control. Through collaborative research efforts with the Texas Agricultural Experiment Station, we have illustrated that mesquite seeds are ingested by most livestock and wildlife species. Once seeds are ingested, livestock/wildlife act as dispersal agents, spreading viable mesquite seeds across the landscape in fecal droppings.

Goats consume more seeds per unit of body weight than other species of livestock, but fewer seeds survive ingestion and germinate. We are working toward a management approach where goats are used to consume and destroy mesquite seeds before they are consumed by other species of livestock and wildlife. Initial results are promising, but further research is needed.


  • Kneuper, C.L., C.B. Scott and W.E. Pinchak. 2003. Consumption and Dispersion of Mesquite Seeds by Ruminants. J. Range Manage. 56:255-259.
  • Cook. R.W., C.B. Scott and F.S. Hartmann. 2008. Short-Term Mesquite Pod Consumption by Goats Does Not Induce Toxicity. Range. Ecol. Manage. 61:566-570.

Using Goats to Control Juniper

Redberry and ashe juniper are problematic evergreen shrubs found throughout central and western Texas. Mechanical brush control has been the only option for landowners until recently.

We have been working on collaborative projects with the Texas Agricultural Experiment Station to increase juniper consumption by goats. Both species of juniper contain toxic terpenoids that limit intake by goats. However, goats will readily adapt to terpeniod levels and increase intake during exposure in individual pens. Goats will continue to include between 20-30 percent juniper in their diet, especially during the dormant season or after a prescribed burn.

Burning kills ashe juniper trees if fire conditions are hot enough. However, redberry juniper readily re-sprouts after burning. Fortunately, goats will consume juniper re-sprouts following burning to achieve additional juniper control.


  • Bisson, M.G., C.B. Scott and C.A. Taylor, Jr. 2001. Activated Charcoal and Experience Affect Intake of Juniper by Goats. J. Range Manage. 54:274-278.
  • Campbell, E.S., B.S. Engdahl, C.J. Lupton, C.B. Scott, C.A. Taylor, Jr., D.F. Waldron, J.W. Walker and W.R. Whitworth. 2007. Chapter 65: The Use of Fecal NIRS to Identify Levels of Consumption of the Toxic Shrub Juniper in a Selective Breeding Program with Goats. In: Panter, K.E., T.L. Wierenga, and J.A. Pfister. Poisonous Plants: Global Research and Solutions. CABI Publishing, Wallingford, Oxon, UK.
  • Dietz, T.H., C.B. Scott, C.A. Taylor, Jr., C.J. Owens and E.S. Campbell. 2009. Feeding Redberry Juniper (Juniperus pinchottii) at Weaning Increases Juniper Consumption on Pasture. Rangeland Ecology and Management (submitted).
  • Dunson, W.T, C.B. Scott, E.S. Campbell, C.A. Taylor, Jr., M.A. Carr and T.R. Callaway. 2007. Chapter 64: Rumen Function and the Ability of Goats to Consume Redberry Juniper (Juniperus pinchottii). In: Panter, K.E., T.L. Wierenga, and J.A. Pfister. Poisonous Plants: Global Research and Solutions. CABI Publishing, Wallingford, Oxon, UK.             
  • Ellis, C.R., R.E. Jones, C.B. Scott, C.A. Taylor, Jr., J.W. Walker and D.F. Waldron. 2005. Sire Influence on Juniper Consumption by Goats. Rangeland Ecology and Management. 58:324-328
  • George, C.H., C.B. Scott, T.R. Whitney, C.J. Owens, B.J. May and R. Brantely. 2009. Supplements Containing Escape Protein Improve Redberry Juniper Consumption by Goats. Rangeland Ecology and Management. (submitted).
  • Owens, C.J., C.B. Scott, C.A. Taylor, Jr., E.S. Campbell and R. Brantley. 2009. Redberry Juniper Consumption Does Not Adversely Affect Meat Goat Reproduction. Tex J. Agri. Natur. Res. (submitted).
  • Straka, E., C.B. Scott, C.A. Taylor, Jr., E. M. Bailey. 2004. Biological Control of the Toxic Shrub Juniper. pp. 436-442.  In: Acamovic, T., C.S. Stewart and T.W. Pennycott (eds.) Poisonous Plants and Related Toxins. CABI Publishing, London.

More Information

For more information, contact Dr. Cody B. Scott at 325-942-2027 or