Goats are some of nature’s most efficient lawnmowers – so it makes sense that one of the biggest airports in the country would want to employ them. This spring, Chicago restaurant Butcher & The Burger will lend its herd of goats to O’Hare Airport to graze along the runways. The herd of 25 goats will be transported to O’Hare from the nearby suburb of Barrington Hills in about a month, along with a shepherd who will oversee them and presumably protect them from Chicago’s coyote population.
O’Hare isn’t the first airport in the country to use goats for vegetation control; last year, San Francisco International Airport brought some goats in to graze on weeds as part of the airport’s fire hazard abatement program. Prior to that, Seattle’s SeaTac Airport tried to use goats for weed control, but later discontinued the program because the goats were too effective — in addition to weeds, they ate native plants and trees that the airport had wanted to protect.
Part of what makes goats so useful is that they can go places that are difficult for lawnmowers to reach. The Chicago goats will mostly be deployed to rocky and hilly areas that are covered with dense brush. “The embankments cause wear and tear on our machinery and are difficult for our team members to reach,” Aviation Commissioner Rosemarie Andolino told the Chicago Tribune. “It’s not like mowing your lawn. We’re utilizing natural resources more efficiently.”
Security fencing will be erected to make sure that the goats don’t wander out into the runways, and they’ll be given shelter in a trailer at night. At the end of the fall, the goats will return to their normal pasture in Barrington Hills, and they’ll return to the airport again in the spring.
Via Chicago Tribune and CNN