Goats arrive to clear vegetation in City of Savannah

Goats arrive to clear vegetation in City of Savannah

SAVANNAH, GA (WTOC) - This week, the city of Savannah received goats to help clear vegetation in two different areas.

The city rented numerous goats and two livestock guardian dogs from Atlanta-area company, 'Get Your Goat Rentals.' They'll be used to remove vegetation along a ravine in the Laurel Grove North Cemetery near W. Anderson Street and at the Clinch Street Pond behind DeRenne Middle School.

A representative from Get Your Goats Rentals will be answer questions during a media event on June 20 at 10 a.m. in Laurel Grove North Cemetery. The herd of goats and guardian dogs will stay at the cemetery for about 20 days.

The goats will benefit the city in multiple ways. They're able to clear vegetation in areas that are difficult for workers to clear or to access with machinery. Goats thrive on poison ivy, kudzu, poison oak, blackberries, nasty vines, and briers. Secondly, the city also expects to see a cost-savings using the goats instead of city staff. Thirdly, the goats are more environmentally-friendly. The type of vegetation they eat ordinarily requires heavy machinery or toxic chemicals to manage, and they leave behind natural fertilizer.

This way of removing the weeds and overgrowth may be uncommon to some, but it's the G.O.A.T. to others - "the greatest of all time."

"They are cost effective and they have a minimal footprint to your standard lawn equipment," said cemetery director, Richard

"This project all started out with some small departments, greenscape cemeteries, stormwater, kind of getting together and trying to figure out how to reduce cost and how to get a handle on several areas within the city that we have a problem accessing," said Laura Walker, City of Savannah. "We were denied for the grant, but during that process of going to the public and asking for approval, we realized there was a lot of support and interest so those three departments went back to the budget and found the money to do a small pilot."

The pilot should last about three weeks, and if it works, there could be more episodes of goats munching away at Savannah's overgrowth of greenery.

A goat will eat 5-15 percent of its body weight in a day. A herd of 35-50 goats can eat 175,500 pounds of vegetation daily, so with the 53 goats in Savannah on the three-acre land, it will take about 25 goats per acre to clear each acre in a week. That means the process will take every bit of 20-25 days.

"Comparatively, it would have cost a couple of thousand dollars more to have this done using a contractor or using in-house staff," Gerbasi said.

The goats are also eco-friendly because they don't leave much of a trail whereas machines to get rid of this overgrowth would be harsh on the ground. If you think these goats are being harmed by munching on all of the green in sight - they aren't. Take it from Gus.

"They eat poison ivy, kudzu, privet, English ivy," said Gus Swanson, Get Your Goat Rentals.

The city received the goats on Tuesday, June 19. While they're working, they'll be confined using marked electric fencing. Get Your Goat Rentals estimates it takes 20-25 goats one week to eat one acre of vegetation.

The cities of Atlanta, Roswell, and Sandy Springs are already using goats to clear vegetation.

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