Renting goats for land clearing is a wonderful idea (if you ask me). It is all at once pastoral, economical, and green. Neighbors love to watch goats wander a vacant lot and make short work of removing invasive plants. A quick check at goatfinder.com’s rent-a-goat section (yes that exists) lists herds for rent in 18 states.
At roughly a third of the cost of using people and machinery, they are fast becoming a viable option for clearing empty lots and land filled with inhospitable plants– particularly on steep slopes and in difficult to access areas. And when they are all done, there is a ready supply of nutrient rich manure to use for new plantings.
These before and after pictures from rent-a-ruminant’s smug mug site are a testament to the quality of the job. Rent-a-ruminant is located on Vashon Island WA.
When I first wrote about this in 2009, the idea was novel and it was the butt of a few late night jokes where it generally wasn’t taken very seriously. But now at the end of 2016, the idea has caught on. In 2009, there were goat herds available in 12 states – now it is 18. But that isn’t the most interesting – Rent a Ruminant is now a franchise-able business and its rental services are available on Amazon.com.
At my in-laws former home in Palos Verdes, CA the goats are brought in annually to keep the fire danger low and the residents enjoy watching their progress as they clean everything up over the course of a couple weeks.
Goatscaping is also quickly becoming a popular alternative to controlling poison Ivy and other plants that often require chemical controls due to their noxious characteristics. (Thorny shrubs suck as blackberry and wild raspberry are also easily controlled with goats). The goats will easy eat through these plants without harm.
In the last couple of years, green goat controls have been featured in Newsweek, The Wall Street Journal and other mainstream media outlets.