'Eco-Goats' grazing away Prince George's problem plants

Dozens of goats are in the county to eat an invasive species of plant threatening a forest in Upper Marlboro. (Photo: Jenny Doren/TBD)

Dozens of “Eco-Goats” are helping Prince George’s County go green and solve a serious problem there at the same time.

“I'm thinking what could goats do?” asked Lonita Yarboro, resident.

More than six dozen of goats are in the county to eat an invasive species of plant threatening a forest, off of Brooke Lane in Upper Marlboro.

Yarboro lives across the street from this forest mitigation site now overrun with living lawn mowers.

About 70 goats moved into her neighborhood this week to munch up the poisonous “Chocolate Vine” plant. While the name sounds sweet, the vine is choking the trees to death. But the goats are immune to them.

We have tried to get rid of this invasive plant species through mechanical and chemical means and it just has not worked,” said Susan Hubbard, Prince George's Department Of Public Works. “The goats happily eating get down to the root. They grind up any seeds so there's nothing that can replant itself or spread itself after they are done.”

Twenty-five goats can clear about quarter of an acre per day. These two herds will eat up the problem plants in about a week.

“It's a win-win for everybody,” Hubbard said. “The goats get fed. They're fat and happy and the folks around here don't here don't have to listen to the machines nor do they have to worry about the chemicals.”

Eco-Goats founder Brian Knox says that in his four years in business travelling to new sites, people have really grown to love their temporary neighbors.

“I think people are really embracing the return to old technology,” he said. “This is what goats have done for thousands of years.”

“I think it's a great idea and it's a natural way to do it so I think it's awesome,” Yarboro said.

Prince George’s County is shelling out $5,000 for the week-long job, which is said to be less expensive than other options to rid the problem.

“The goats are not right for every job, but where they're right, they're amazingly useful,” said Knox. “They go places people can't or won't.”