Tuesday, November 3, 2009



What has 4 legs, a huge appetite, and might someday edge out heavy tools or tractors for the use of brush clearing? You guessed it: goats. Seattle-based landscaping company, “Rent-A-Ruminant,” contracts herds of goats out to landscaping jobs needing large amounts of brush and overgrowth cleared. For larger jobs, up to 60 goats are hired and are capable of clearing 10,000 square feet in approximately 3-5 days. What are the benefits of using goats instead of tools, manual labor, or machinery? Well, the goats are environmentally friendly (zero carbon emissions), are walking fertilizers, and can easily go places machinery and people would struggle to get to like steep inclines and uneven terrain. Laughing? Well, when cities, counties, and contractors are willing to pay $800 a day to use a herd of your goats for a job, you might not be.

The use of goats as a replacement for machinery or manual labor holds many implications of a disruptive innovation. One project manager in Seattle estimates that by hiring goats he saved $6,000 to $9,000 and at least 3 days of labor on a job that would typically require the use of heavy machinery and a crew of laborers at least a week to complete. On top of that, his decision was very popular with the neighborhood as the goats substituted noisy machinery and gave the kids and adults plenty to talk about. Gardeners and landscapers are scooping this idea up because of the large amounts of free fertilizer they are able to gather as the goats get busy eating away weeds and brush.

The value these goats create is substantial. They are less expensive than the alternative (manual labor and/or machinery). They are environmentally friendly and their waste is in high demand of gardeners and other people needing fresh, natural fertilizer. It improves upon a process and benefits all three components involved: the goat gets to do what it does best and enjoys most, and that is eating; the owner of the goats earns money from an animal that typically lives inactively in pastures; and the contractor who has rented the goats can complete a job more efficiently and with a less negative impact on the environment.

For more information and to see some great pictures, follow the links below:




  1. This all sounds great, and if I lived in that neighborhood I would feel the same way, but are there any downside to using goats? Are the goats also better at clearing large relatively flat terrain? At some point people felt the need to create a substitute for goats in the form of machinary. What was the reason for this?

  2. I love the idea although I am concerned for the areas where a herd of goats can be taken... I found hard to imagine they working on the landscape of a city...
    Is this an innovation? Or does it imply to go back to the basics again? Is it part of a natural/organic trend or is it really conceived as something sustainable?

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