Mesa leases 80 goats to eat weeds - East Valley Tribune: News

Mesa leases 80 goats to eat weeds

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Posted: Tuesday, January 13, 2009 1:53 pm | Updated: 2:26 am, Sat Oct 8, 2011.

At least someone’s getting hired in Mesa these days. Goats. 80 of ‘em.

At least someone's getting hired in Mesa these days. Goats. 80 of 'em.

The city is contracting with a local company, the Arizona Herdsman Eco Goats, which has already sent 10 goats to start chewing on 30 acres of weeds and brush at its water reclamation plant in northwest Mesa, north of Loop 202.

The $10,000 six-month contract is aimed at freeing up city crews to take on other responsibilities at the plant, instead of dealing with the invasive foliage on a hard terrain.

Mesa spokesman Ian Satter said it's hard to use machines, especially at some sites, because of the way they're designed, but it's different for goats.

"The place is fenced off and they're free to roam around easily," Satter said.

Goats, apparently, can get to places human beings can't.

The water reclamation plant area is steep and rocky, making it hard for human workers to take equipment.

Besides the practicality, from the city's viewpoint, this is an eco-friendly move as well.

Goats don't pollute, they actually like to eat these plants that are the bane of the city, there are no chemicals or pesticides being used, and no big machines burning up fuel and polluting the air.

Cities around the country are using this tool for clearing rights-of-way around their roads or to clear weeds near their dumps. Several companies across the country, including California's Goats R Us, specialize in supplying goats as grazing machines.

One theory claims domesticated farm animals contribute to greenhouse gases with all that methane they release. But Satter said he isn't sure if there are any studies out there that compare that form of 'pollution' to the use of machines.

"Obviously with the lack of burning fossil fuels and creating pollution that way and no noise pollution or fumes, no risk of fuel spills and goats eating biodegradable waste, there's no material being used considered harmful to the environment," Satter said.

The utilities department will test the results from this initial contract, which is targeted to clear the water retention ponds. If successful, other departments could also look into this form of weed control, Satter said.

Satter said Brad Payne, who owns Arizona Herdsman Eco Goats, will be in charge of getting the goats out to the plant.

If drivers headed westbound on Loop 202 look to the north, they may just get a glimpse of Mesa's latest green deeds.

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