Landscape companies are used to competing for jobs, but their competition usually consists of other humans. Now, they might have to start bidding against goats.
According to a story aired by KTAB/KRBC, Abilene, Texas, and posted on its Big Country Homepage website, the city of Early was facing a gnarly landscape job. It seems that Turtle Creek had become surrounded by a big thicket of vegetation in an area that city crews could not access. So City Manager Tony Aaron called “Rent-a-Ruminant,” a company that supplies goats for heavy-duty jobs like this. Its four-footed landscapers have worked all over the state.
“We clear out all the brush, the edible brush,” says Rent-A-Ruminant’s Marketing Director Terry Carr in the story. “The briars, poison ivy, poison oak, all the green stuff. There’s a weed that gets eight to ten feet tall called bloodweed and they love it.”
The company’s cloven-hooved crews consist of four different breeds: Boar, Spanish, Nubian and Alpine. This diversity is helpful, as certain breeds are taller than others. As Carr puts it in the story, “Our goats reach up about six foot. Alpines reach up about 8 foot to get brush.”
Carr is quoted as saying his four-legged weed-eaters can plow through even the toughest of jobs. “If they can mow it or shred it, that’s cheaper and faster. We want to go where they (human landscapers) can’t go, either mechanical or chemical, but also what could create a hazard to their employees.”
Aaron told the station’s reporter, “I feel like it’s safer than having a human crew in there because of rattlesnakes, spiders, poison ivy, poison oak, so that is why we chose that area to really just put a challenge on them and see that they could do.”
The goats have apparently done a fine job and earned repeat business. According to the article, Aaron has already booked the goats for another job.
“There’s another area that’s about an acre that the city owns and it’s just heavily brushed and overgrown and it connects to that, so we’re just like, ‘lets just move on to this’ if they’ve got time to do that,” Aaron says in the story.
Goats as workers do have some advantages, from an employer's point of view. They eat what they clear, which eliminates the need to dispose of trimmings or take lunch breaks,They also don't ask for pay raises, use cell phones on the job or call in sick.
The goats themselves had no comment.