VANCOUVER, Wa. (KOIN) — A goat herd will begin grazing on a patch of grass and weeds along State Route 503 on Wednesday, the Washington State Department of Transportation announced.
The herd is part of a pilot program to use goats instead of mowing tools along highways. WSDOT spokesperson Tamara Hellman told KOIN 6 News that overall it is not cheaper to hire goats, however, they are currently studying the long term cost benefits.
A traditional lawn crew is spendy because of the hourly wage and fuel costs. They are also more damaging to the environment, and pesticides are needed to manage the fields.
“We have farmers that surround the property and this site, and if we were to come in here and spray [chemicals] we could risk the drift and get it into their crops as well and that would not make a good working relationship with our neighbors,” Heidi Holmstrom, the owner of goats, told KOIN 6.
The other pilot programs are in Spokane, Olympia and ten other locations. In Vancouver, the goats have been donated, unlike the other locations, where the goats are rented.
The goal is to have the goats chomp on the Japanese Knott Weed, an invasive species. The goat can eat it down to the root so the seed won’t re-grow, unlike a mower.
“With their digestive process the way it is, when they ruminate, it comes back up, they re-digest so there’s no spreading of seeds, plant matter, it goes in green comes out green or fertilizer,” Holmstrom said.
Because of safety concerns, the goats will only be in fenced in areas, to avoid them becoming a road hazard.