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St. Louis business rents goats to eat overgrown foilage

August 18, 2019

ST. LOUIS (AP) — A St. Louis County woman has opened a local franchise of a business that rents out goats to clear weed- or foliage-infested property.

The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports that Erika Streeter, 47, of Wildwood, opened the first Goats on the Go affiliate in the St. Louis area in late spring. The Iowa-based vegetation management company is one of several across the country that rent goats to take care of overgrown weeds and thickets, advertising themselves as an option that’s good for the environment.

Most property owners do follow up with cutting and the application of some herbicide, said Aaron Steele, co-founder of Goats on the Go. For clients who only want to use goats, multiple visits are needed.

Steele and his friend Chad Steenhoek were hobby farmers in Ames, Iowa, when they decided to moonlight as a goat-grazing operation seven years ago. After they began getting inquiries from potential customers who lived far away, they opened the business to affiliate owners.

John Herget was Streeter’s third client. He had battled invasive honeysuckle since he moved back into his parents’ home in unincorporated north St. Louis County three years ago. The backyard overlooks the Missouri River before descending into a steep bluff.

“I’ve been wanting to clear the hill for years,” said Herget, 38. He found Goats on the Go.

Streeter took her crew of Kiko and Spanish goats in early July to do a test patch of Herget’s yard. She and her teenage son set up a solar-powered electric fence around a small section of the hillside.

Streeter uses “mob grazing” technique that plays to the goats’ competitive instincts.

“The initial onslaught is like when the pizza box arrives with teenage kids,” Streeter said. “Then it slows down.”

It takes several days for the goats to clear an acre, depending on the density of the vegetation. They eat, ruminate, rest and repeat.

Streeter checks on the herd daily, making sure they have enough water and adjusting the fencing, which keeps the goats in and predators out.

Herget found himself interested in the goats’ progress and took time-lapse videos of the defoliation.

Streeter sees her business as a way to earn extra money while showing her son, a new high school graduate, how to run a business.

She usually charges between $900 and $1,200 an acre, depending on density.

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Information from: St. Louis Post-Dispatch, http://www.stltoday.com

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