Salem, Oregon gives up on using goats to ‘mow’ park

Brittany A. Roston - Feb 26, 2016
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Salem, Oregon gives up on using goats to ‘mow’ park

The city of Salem, Oregon had a plan that must have seemed brilliant in someone's mind: renting goats to mow down a city park's brambles, berry bushes, and other troublesome plants one bite at a time. The spirit of the experiment was a noble one -- goats are more environmentally friendly than lawn tractors, and presumably aren't as loud as a gas-powered motor. Unfortunately, they do have one very big downside: a hoard of them together in a park produce a pretty terrible smell.

The plan was launched as a pilot project this past October, and involved 75 goats rented from Yoder Goat Rentals (apparently goat rentals are a thing in Oregon). The rental cost was a little more than $11,000 USD, and included the costs of clearing way for a fence and monitoring the goats. The ultimate cost of the experiment up to its closure was $20,719 USD.

The costs include things like installing a portable bathroom, cleaning up the goats’ waste, and more — the park was described as being “heavily fertilized” by the city’s public works operations manager. Despite the upsides, the city spent many times more than it would have by using a park maintenance operator — the regular cost for the time period would have been $3,370 USD.

Using the goats also ran into trouble when they started eating things they shouldn’t — Salem wanted to use the goats for getting rid of invasive plants and other nuisance species, but goats, of course, will be goats. That is to say, they ate whatever they felt like including native plants. They also damaged trees. Finally, and most importantly, was the smell; the park was described as smelling like a barnyard.

SOURCE: Statesman Journal