An Ardmore developer is taking an environmentally friendly approach to clearing out dense brush on his land — he’s using goats.
City officials visited Lance Windel’s property Tuesday to see progress made since the developer decided two weeks ago to begin clearing 25 acres of land using only goats. The progress, city officials found astounding.
“Goats are the only thing that will eat everything but grass,” Windel said. “They mow it down to the dirt because they get the root system too. (Their clearing efforts) don’t last forever but it lasts a lot longer than a brush hog. And we’re saving at least a couple of thousand dollars per acre without making a lot of noise or burning any diesel.”
The goats successfully cleared two acres of  dense brush, weeds and vines from the area. In a era where people are more concerned than ever about the environment, goat power may be the way forward in clearing land without generating carbon emissions and without endangering employees.
“I want to see this done all across town,” City Commissioner John Moore said. “I really think it would be good in the East Main channel.”
Moore has been advocating, unsuccessfully, for the city to use goats to clear city owned lands for years. Moore hopes once city officials see the progress made on Windel’s land, the city will rent  the heard, owned by Ardmore local Zane Manley, next.
Using goats to clear land not only reduces the environmental impact, but keeps humans away from
dangerous plants.
“They really like poison ivy and black berry bushes,” Zane Manley said. “They will even work together as a team to take out the small bushes. One goat will stand on it, and knock it down, while the other one eats it.”
Windel is using a mix of 60 Spanish goats and Boer goats, along with one sheep, to clear the land so that he can build 22 affordable town homes on the property. A goat herd this size can clear one acre of brush per week. In contrast, it took Manley two days just to cut a walking path through the brush wide enough to put up the fencing around the two acres of land.
Using these goats aren’t only benefiting Windel and his efforts to clear the property, they’re also helping Manley fatten up his goats to sell them for breeding purposes. Manley purchases the goats from ranchers who are no longer able to care for them. Typically the ones he buys are malnourished and happy to get fat clearing land.
In order to be sure the goats clear the entire property, Manley checks on the herd every couple of days. He uses his half collie, half bulldog, Dot, to round up the goats and move them to a new area on the land.
“All they need is a fence and water,” Manley said.
Ardmore Development Services Director Jessica Scott said that unlike traditional clearing projects in suburban areas, her office hadn’t received one complaint since the goats arrived.
“We’ve seen other cities do it, and we think this would be something good to implement in the city in order to clear up our brush,” Scott said. “This is the first time it has been done in Ardmore and we didn’t get a single complaint like everyone said we would when we proposed this before.”
Manley plans to move the fence later this week westward on the property to continue the clearing the area for development.