Wednesday, December 17, 2014

How many goats do you need to eat your lawn?

They've always done that job on farms, of course, but now the critters are being seen as an eco-alternative to fuel-guzzling mowers, herbicides and weed-yaking volunteers who for some reason don't relish wading into a patch of poison ivy!

How many goats do you need to eat your lawn?

I had a lot of fun reporting this morning's story about goats as weed-eating powerhouses.

They've always done that job on farms, of course, but now the critters are being seen as an eco-alternative to fuel-guzzling mowers, herbicides and weed-yanking volunteers who for some reason don't relish wading into a patch of poison ivy! 

Not long ago, a fun and funky blog by Movoto, a real estate group, posted an online calculator for figuring out how many goats, sheep, chickens, cows and, of all things, guinea pigs would be required to clear a specific size plot in one day.

Titled "Reduce Animal Unemployment: Hire a Goat," the site lauds goats as "the classic choice for lawn maintenance."  Its researchers contend that a goat will eat eight pounds of weeds a day.

So let's say you have a one-acre spread of grass. That, the calculator tells us that mowing it in one day would require:

34 goats.

6 cows. (A single cow can eat more than 25 pounds of grass a day, but they need room to roam.)

73 sheep. (Cute, and can also be used for wool in milk, but they have "extremely dul personalities," the site notes.)

1,162 chickens. (But try to fit all them on one acre! Plus, they might clear the ground and scratch it up to take a dust bath.)

1,742 guinea pigs. (If you could come up with that many. And THEN what do you do with them?)

Sandy Bauers Inquirer GreenSpace Columnist
About this blog

GreenSpace is about environmental issues and green living. Bauers also writes a biweekly GreenSpace column about environmental health issues for the Inquirer’s Sunday “Health” section.

Sandy Bauers is the environment reporter for the Philadelphia Inquirer, where she has worked for more than 20 years as a reporter and editor. She lives in northern Chester County with her husband, two cats, a large vegetable garden and a flock of pet chickens.

Reach Sandy at sbauers@phillynews.com.

Sandy Bauers Inquirer GreenSpace Columnist
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