Goat Power

It’s time to throw away the lawn mower. From country clubs to
private yards, a new market is developing for goats as biocontrol
agents to eliminate weeds. Just ask Jim Guggenhime. A 27-year-old
sociology graduate of the University of Colorado, Guggenhime
developed a fondness for goats while he was traveling in East
Africa.

With a herd of 215, Guggenhime’s company Nip It in the Bud has
been eating its way to fame and fortune. And his is just one of at
least three such companies in the United States.

Browsing goats are ideal for clipping back tough or poisonous
weeds, shrubs, leaves, and twigs. First of all, goats eat grass
last. And when they tackle weeds, they take the flowers and leaves,
which stops the plants from seeding and photosynthesizing, but
leave the stalks and roots in the soil, preventing erosion. This
pattern allows landscapers using goats to seed native or more
desirable plants, which can take root while the undesirables are
under stress. If that doesn’t have you sold, goats even provide
free, organic fertilization and mineral-balancing irrigation water,
in the form of urine.

Goat grazing is obviously a good choice for organic farms
looking for alternatives to herbicides, but it’s also attractive to
home owners, be they rural or urban, who are choosing gentler means
to control weeds. And now you don’t need to own your own herd —
Guggenhime’s services are pretty affordable at only one U.S. dollar
per day per goat, plus setup and transportation.

Reprinted from Alternatives Journal (vol. 30, no.
3), a Canadian quarterly published at the University of Waterloo in
Ontario that examines world environmental issues from a Canadian
perspective. It is the publication of the Environmental Studies
Association of Canada. Subscriptions: $35/yr. (6 issues) from
519/888-4442;
www.alternativesjournal.ca

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