Goatscaping: Free-range landscaping with goats
Exploring a new trend in green agri-business: using goats to clear land and trim weeds.
Sunday, September 19, 2010 - 15:59
SR. CABRO, THE GOATKEEPER: Pen, ink, pastels, colored pencils. (Photo: Sean Deskin)
Seeking help from the animal kingdom for emissions-free landscaping is a growing trend in agricultural business, according to The Wall Street Journal. Homeowners, businesses and parks departments across the nation are employing goats for land clearing and removing brush and weeds.
The use of herbivores (sheep and cows can be called on, too) for landscape management is a technique that predates the gas-powered-lawn equipment era and is an approach that has changed little for many years in some places. Farmers in India, for example, often employ goatherds and their charge to clear the fields after harvest. Their manure is a natural fertilizer and by the time the annual monsoon season is over, the fields are once again ready for planting.
A quick search on Google for "goat powered landscaping services" will reveal that there are actually quite a few of these companies across the nation.
Interested in starting your own goat lawn service?
To start a goat-powered lawn service, the first thing you need is the vision, and the goats. If you choose not to live the nomadic life of moving your clan and digs with the herd when your contracted plot is cleared, then I suggest you find a scrap of land that your goats are comfortable enough on to call home.
Next, some fencing materials would probably be a good idea to invest in, too. There are a variety of approaches to fencing in your flock, from state-of-the-art, solar-powered electric fences to the tradition and time tested method of using trained dogs to keep your goats gathered — whichever method best suits you and your herd, of course. Goats, being brethren of the animal kingdom, obviously need the basics that any animal needs: food (usually provided on the jobsite [another economic bonus!]), water and camaraderie (one goat bays=loneliness, two goats happily munching=profit).
There are many benefits of this approach to landscaping within suburban and urban areas. Goats can be trained to focus on specific types of weeds and can easily clear steep slopes where heavy equipment can't reach and nuzzle into tight spots where gas-powered weed eaters can't squeeze, like corners and around tree roots. And besides the herds' pyloric methane emissions and the fuel expenditure in towing your herd from the hacienda to the jobsite, there are almost no noxious emissions. Also, most people prefer the sounds of goat baying and munching to the wasp nest-in-a-tin-can sound of a fleet gas operated lawn tools. To top it off, these services provide on-site composting and fertilizing. Ah, just smell the roses.
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