We've reported on goats being used to clear brush in Stillwater and Langston, and now, Oklahoma City is picking up on the trend. The City just "hired" about 19 goats to eliminate all the weeds and brush surrounding the Lake Hefner Canal.
It's an all-you-can-eat buffet for the goat herd clearing out all-things green.
"They've got a heck of a task cut out for them, and they just do what comes natural,” said Monte Hannon, Oklahoma City's Superintendent of Water Quality.
The City of Oklahoma City is replacing expensive mowing equipment by using a group of goats to practically mow with their mouths.
"The goats have small hooves. They're very apt to climbing up and down the slopes, and they don't charge overtime for working 24-7," Hannon said.
They work along the nearly six acres surrounding the Hefner Canal near NW Expressway and W Wilshire Blvd. The city says the herd will help trim back the hard-to-reach grass, vines and other problem plants.
They will also help eliminate fuel use and emissions, prevent damage to slopes and reduce brush by 50% to 90% in the first year and 95% to 98% over five years.
"We've had several on-the-job injuries from people slipping and falling. The brush is so thick on the slopes that it's very difficult for our employees to get down in there and work safely," Hannon said. “There are areas, even with the extended booms on the mowers, they can't reach into the canal.”
The goats will eat up as high as they can reach. The group always sticks closely together. They don't like water, so they will avoid going into the lake. A city crew is out to check on them daily. The City says the goat droppings will serve as a good source of natural, organic fertilizer, which will stay on the canal banks.
"Our goats are rather small, but they're up to the challenge they think, so we'll see how they do" Hannon said.
The goats are on a 6-month loan from the Langston University Goat & Research Extension. After the trial period, the city will see if they want to hire them on a permanent basis or add more to their program.
The goats are expected to clear between 1.5 and 2.5 acres of land each month. They will also have a guard dog with them.