Goats? Mowing our lawns?
Well, we’re not talking about home lawns or yards here (although, you could if you really wanted to). Since they can’t trim grass to a nice even length, goats aren’t great for taking care of a manicured lawn. Lawn grass also isn’t the best food for goats as it doesn’t provide their complete nutrition, so these furry friends are better suited for brush control in larger lots.
This isn’t a new idea. Cities like Boulder, Colorado have been using goats to control their brush for over two decades, and it’s been happening in Europe for centuries. Goats are also already being used in Kamloops, B.C. and Regina, Saskatchewan to deal with invasive weeds.
On top of this being an adorable option for lot maintenance, there are ample benefits to all cities utilizing goats for their “lawn mowing” needs, including environmental ones.Photo by Jonathan Mast on Unsplash
1. Goats can get into those tricky places
The hardest-to-reach places are on steep slopes and hills, or through drainage ditches, but goats don’t mind a little incline. They're also great to get into those larger lots that might be unkempt or overgrown with prickly weeds. No need for long pants or thick rubber boots—just send in the herd.
2. Goats can effectively control weeds
Goats can keep up with the rapid speed of weeds, which eliminates the need for herbicides and pesticides on lots or in fields. Their digestive system also renders seeds infertile so they won’t pass them back into the environment.
3. Goats will naturally amend soil
When left for a few days to eat larger lots, goats will also spend that time defecating and fertilizing the area around it. Their light and brief trampling will also help to aerate the soil, naturally amending it and allowing for better moisture control. This is amazing for wild fields or places that will turn into urban gardens or farms, but also in general for the restoration of healthy soils and biodiversity.
4. Goats maintain invasive species
As we know, goats are amazing weed-controllers, but they also eat a lot of plants that other animals don’t eat or can’t eat because they may be toxic to them. This includes woody and broad-leafed plants and also invasive weeds like thistle that are otherwise hard to get rid of and affect native plants’ growth.
5. Goats eliminate the need for machinery
Most methods of lawn maintenance require the use of a lawn mower, which is fossil-fuel powered. Fossil fuels are incredibly harmful to the planet’s health, and a single riding mower can release the same amount of exhaust in an hour as 34 cars over the same amount of time. Goats don’t have a negative impact on the environment, and using their skills here can actually create a positive impact.
There aren’t really any downsides to using goats for lawn maintenance—it even saves money when factoring in the cost of large machinery that cities and lot owners have to use. If you have a larger lot, a rental lot, or are connected with your city councillors who control lots around your city, let them know about the benefits of using goats for lawn maintenance. You’ll be doing your city (and planet) a huge favour.