How goats are helping one NH city cut costs

Published: Jul. 25, 2017 at 5:27 PM EDT
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When Natalie Reid starts calling, her goats come running with Enzo the guard dog at the front of the pack.

"People love the fact that it is natural and they leave fertilizer behind and they are quiet. They like having them around even if it is only temporary," Reid said.

About six years ago, Reid began using her Gap Mountain Goats to clear brush on her neighbors' land. It quickly became a business.

At the landfill in Keene, New Hampshire, there is plenty of room for them to work with. As the trash truck come and go, more than 30 goats chow down on the nearby man-made hill of waste.

"It is congruent with the type of goals that the city of Keene has. We are interested in any ways that we can reduce our carbon footprint," said Duncan Watson of Keene Public Works.

The city has to maintain the vegetative cap on the landfill so roots don't poke through the plastic under the soil. It usually costs Keene about $6,000 a season to mow. At $900 a month, the goats are slightly less.

"Even with 30 goats they are never going to be able to maintain a 20-acre closed landfill cap in the way we need it, so we will supplement with some regular mowing," Watson said.

But the mower is getting a lot less use this year and that makes this goat herder happy.

"I really just believe in using a low-impact method as opposed to chemicals or heavy machinery," Reid said.

The goats will stay here through the first frost, then the city will reassess the project to decide whether to bring the animals back next year.