Rent A Goat

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Boer Goat
Domestic Goat Kid in Capeweed

Rent A Goat is a company founded in 2010 by 22-year-old entrepreneur Matthew Richmond, from Chapel Hill, North Carolina, which rents out goat herds for land-clearing purposes.[1] Rent A Goat is part of a larger phenomenon called conservation grazing or targeted grazing whereby goats are used instead of traditional machinery or pesticides in order to curb unwanted invasive plant growth. Goat rental has since become a more publicly acceptable form of weed abatement according to The Street: "Whether you have just enough front or back yard to get overgrown and unwieldy or find yourself overrun with nasty, prickly, invasive plants that just won't go away, nature has already devised the ultimate solution to your problem."[2]

Goats being used in a residential backyard for english ivy

The Maryland State Highway Department has enlisted a herd of 40 goats to graze the grass as an alternative to using lawn mowers.[3]


In 2009, Google rented goats in Mountain View, California to clear overgrown lawns.[4][5] The "U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the Bureau of Reclamation, the Bureau of Land Management, the Forest Service and the city of Seattle have all used goats to manage their property and keep grass, weeds and other plants at bay."[6] California has reportedly used goats to reduce the occurrence of wildfire.[citation needed] In 2013, a (non-ranked) mention was made of Rent A Goat in Entrepreneur Magazine's "Top 100 Brilliant Companies".[7]


Nationally, various rent-a-goat companies have cropped up over the last ten years and are used in a wide variety of settings, including: homeowners, large and small properties, companies and commercial entities, universities, municipalities, such as roads and parks, government agencies, including military facilities. As ruminants, goats have a four-chambered stomach which allows them to digest a wide variety of vegetation.[8] Their size and nimbleness makes them the perfect small plant removal system.[9]

Goats are known to eat the following invasive plants:

  • Thistle
  • Blackberries
  • Poison oak and poison ivy
  • Kudzu
  • Vines such as trumpet vine
  • Sage brush
  • Sapling trees (such as pine, cedar, oak)
  • Broom sage[10]


Businesses akin to Rent A Goat have not yet proven their viability in the landscaping market. Cited difficulties include fencing, water, and the need to provide a place for the animals when not being used for vegetation management.[11] Both research and extension activities are needed to develop and transfer the technology for improving the effectiveness and profitability of goats for vegetation management.[11] While goats are relatively inexpensive and require only what they eat as fuel, companies may only provide as many as 30 at a time on their own or through farm subcontractors.[clarification needed][2] Goats can be effectively used to manage most types of vegetation, but greater knowledge is required before the full potential of using goats for vegetation management can be realized.[11]


One perceived benefit of using goats to clear invasive weeds is their ability to handle rocky and steep terrain that humans or machines can't normally clear easily. In some situations, their cost is also less, when compared to heavy machinery. Goats are reportedly "an environmentally friendly method for clearing areas containing invasive vegetation... thinning by goats is a natural method resulting in a naturally balanced environment over the long term."[12]

A North Carolina study compared the effectiveness of goats versus chemicals in clearing kudzu from an infested area, and found the goats to be drastically more effective than were the chemicals.[13] Goats can also reduce the threat of forest fires by cleaning up combustible materials without the need for any chemicals or gas-powered machinery.[14]

Media Attention[edit]

The concept has gained surprisingly notoriety since 2010, and has appeared on The Today Show,[15] Regis and Kelly[16] The Colbert Report,[17] in AOL News,[18] TreeHugger,[19] The Wall Street Journal,[20] The Associated Press,[21] and in the book Mrs. Lizzy is Dizzy![22]


  1. ^ Bounds, Gwendolyn. "Free-Range Landscaping and Others Bring in Herds to Trim the Yard, Get Rid of Weeds". Wall Street Journal.
  2. ^ a b "The 5 Strangest (and Best) Lawn and Garden Care Tactics You Can Buy". The Street.
  3. ^ "Rent-a-Goat". Discovery. Retrieved 28 April 2013.
  4. ^ "Things to make you happy: Google employs goats". CNET.
  5. ^ "Google Uses RentAGoat". Google Blog.
  6. ^ "The 5 Strangest (and Best) Lawn and Garden Care Tactics You Can Buy". The Street.
  7. ^ Wang, Jennifer (23 May 2013). "The Company Leading the Future of Farming". Entrepreneur Magazine. Retrieved 18 October 2013.
  8. ^ "How much do they eat?". Retrieved 28 April 2013.
  9. ^ Pan, Harley Shyh-Haur (2012). Creativity, Landscape Design Process, Maury Island Gravel Mine (PDF) (Master of Landscape Architecture thesis). University of Washington. p. 30. – link is direct download
  10. ^ Michaels, Ann Marie. "Rent a Goat to Mow Your Lawn". Retrieved 26 April 2013.
  11. ^ a b c Hart, S.P. (2001). "Recent Perspectives in Using Goats for Vegetation Management in the USA" (PDF). Journal of Dairy Science. 84 (E170–E176): E170–E176. doi:10.3168/jds.S0022-0302(01)70212-3. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2013-10-19. Retrieved 2019-07-17.
  12. ^ "Goats for Lawn Care? A New Eco-Trend".
  13. ^ McGaughey, Colleen (May 2011). "Invasive Species Management at MacLeish Field Station" (PDF). Kahn Institute. Retrieved 26 April 2013.
  14. ^ "No Kidding: Getting Goats to Graze on Tinder Puts a Damper on Fires". scientificamerican.
  15. ^ "Hate Cutting The Grass? Rent A Goat". NBC News.
  16. ^ "Regis and Kelly -". Regis and Kelly.
  17. ^ "People Who Are Destroying the World - Landscaping Goats". Comedy Central.
  18. ^ "Lawn Mowing Takes a Cheap and Tasty Turn -- for Goats". AOL News.
  19. ^ "Rent-a-Goat in Action! Clearing Brush the Way Nature Intended It". TreeHugger.
  20. ^ Bounds, Gwendolyn. "Free-Range Landscaping and Others Bring in Herds to Trim the Yard, Get Rid of Weeds". Wall Street Journal. Retrieved 26 April 2013.
  21. ^ "Need a Lawnmower? How 'bout a Goat?". AP News.
  22. ^ Gutman, Dan (2010). My Weird School Daze #9: Mrs. Lizzy Is Dizzy!. HarperCollins. p. 37. ISBN 9780061991998.

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