Goat-powered land improvement business puts the kids to work

newspaperClearing unwanted brush and weeds can be a tiresome chore—unless you’re a hungry goat that can eat the trimmings.

That’s the plan when a work crew from Goat Busters shows up at a job site.

“Goat Busters is a land and brush clearing business where we employ a herd of Kiko goats” to consume the vegetation, explained owner Jace Goodling, a member of the Albemarle County Farm Bureau. “We fence them in with an electric fence and then keep them in there until they are done eating all they want, then move them to another area.”

Goodling is a custom home builder who branched into clearing land with his goats in 2008. He said overgrown, weed-choked areas are like candy to goats. So when the economy went into recession, his “kids” went to work.

“We have had all sizes of jobs, as small as a 28-foot by 80-foot backyard to 750 acres in Alabama,” he said. “We will take anything, large or small.

“The goats stay on the job site until done. They’ll eat for two hours, then rest and get up again. They will eat all night long. It’s surprising how much they can get done overnight.”

In addition to being much quieter than power equipment and eliminating the need for herbicides, Gooding said goats improve the land they’re clearing.

“The common scenario with overgrown land is stick weed, honeysuckle and lots of nasty stuff people don’t want,” he said. “Heavy equipment could devastate the land,” while herbicides sometimes cannot be used around waterways or inhabited areas.

“Goats provide clearing and fertilizing at the same time. Their cloven hooves work the manure into the soil, so they’re enriching it as they work.”

Using goats to clear land is a time-tested tradition, but Goodling is one of the few goat owners in Virginia who does it professionally.

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