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Have You “Herd” About Stillwater’s Goats?

Filed by KOSU News in Art & Life, Feature, Local News, Science.
October 18, 2011

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Stillwater, like every other city, is filled with nooks and crannies that can’t be reached without expensive heavy equipment. So the city’s turning to a decidedly low-tech option….goats. Langston University’s delivered a dozen goats to a gully just off South Western Road in Stillwater. They’ll trim back the vegetation in a little more than a week , without the added noise and expense of a crew of workers…

It’s a stampede to the buffet of leaves, branches, and anything else in the ditch. Terry Gibson heads up Langston University’s goat, yes goat, program.

“There’s a lot of brush in there that’s very desirable for them, very palatable. Now they’re just going through and selecting the highly desirable brush and stripping those off and then they’ll come back and finish off with some of the ones that are undesirable.”

Stillwater is far from the first community to get the lawnmowing animals. Gibson’s brought the goats to communities all over the state. He says they’ll eat just about anything, and don’t require a whole lot of care, just a fence to keep them in.

“You don’t have to come in and use chemicals, you don’t have to come in and use mechanical means such as chainsaws or other types of labor intensive activities. So it’s a nice way of taking undesirable brush and converting it into a very usable product.”

Stillwater’s Storm Water Programs Manager Cody Whittenburg first proposed the program and got a lot of long stares. Whittenburg says with a strong fence and residents on alert, he doesn’t expect any problems keeping the goats in the gully.

“People want to come by and see them I don’t think that’s a problem at all, but let them do their thing and you do your thing and I think everything will be great.”

Oklahoma State University senior Evan Patten lives in the house next to the gully. Patten didn’t believe what he was hearing at first.

“I thought it was a complete joke. My roommate told me and I did not believe him for two days. And then he forwarded me the email and I was like ‘Are you kidding me?’. I don’t know how they’re going to keep drunk college kids from messing with them.”

Whittenburg didn’t have to do a whole lot of convincing of his bosses. John McClenny’s the city’s Director of External Services. After getting the initial proposal, he read up on the history of animals acting as lawnmowers. And once he heard one story, he was sold…

“They used sheep to maintain the White House lawn during World War One, so I thought if they could do it there, we could do it here.”

The goats should go through the plants and grass in a little over a week. Whittenburg says they’ll see how the program works out, and then decide whether to send the goats to take on other gullies.

One Response to “Have You “Herd” About Stillwater’s Goats?”

  1. Helen Clements says:

    I applaud our city departments for being forward thinking!

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