Every year the City of Cheyenne embarks on a very unusual and innovative project; we hire goats! This may seem weird to some, but in reality, this is a very cost-effective and environment-friendly way to solve one of the many challenges the city faces each year. Hopefully, this will answer some of the many questions surrounding the goats.
Why do we hire goats?
Simple vegetation management. With any urban environment, there is always the challenge to maintain public areas while keeping the public safe. This is especially critical where drainage is involved. Not only is the city responsible for keeping the public areas looking beautiful, but for managing the property as well.
Keeping the drainage ways free from an overgrowth of vegetation is essential. It’s the city’s responsibility to keep waterways free-flowing and unobstructed, in case there is a storm event that causes potential flooding. Nevertheless, the goats attack this challenge by eating the overgrowth away. With two to three eating cycles a day, an adult goat can remove up to five pounds of grass. That’s 1,000 pounds of vegetation per day the herd removes! Why is this the best option, you might ask? Well, let’s look at the alternatives:
- To remove vegetation, you don’t have many options.
- One is manpower: City crews would have to physically get into the drainage area to cut down and remove the plants. Many of the drainages are difficult terrain, with steep slopes and uneven ground. This effort would be very time-consuming and more expensive.
- The other option would be chemicals: Chemicals can kill vegetation. Likewise, there is still a cost associated with this method, and it is not environmentally friendly. Since the city clears vegetation in drainages, we recognize that we’d be potentially contaminating our waterways.
Goats are also a great option for addressing noxious weeds. They not only eat all vegetation, but they target specific vegetation—weeds! Within city limits, we battle noxious weeds every year, including Leafy Spurge and Bull Thistle. These and other noxious weeds are very harmful to the environment, and we continuously try to eradicate them. The goats help with this tremendously!
Bank stabilization is another benefit to having the goats in our town. One might think with so many animals moving around by the creek there would be damage. However, it’s just the opposite. The goats actually help with stabilizing the creek bank, reduce erosion, and prevent sediment from moving downstream! This helps keep our waterways even cleaner.
The final bonus to hiring goats each year is public enjoyment. Citizens of all ages really do enjoy seeing the goats and look forward to them every year, with the local news covering their arrival each year. The social media postings of their return are always positive, and people contact the city to see where they are moving next.
We hope this information helps you understand the purpose of the vegetation management project and the fantastic animals behind it. If you have any further questions, please contact the City of Cheyenne’s Engineering Department at (307) 637-6290.