A herd of 40 goats clears land at a Burnet Chamber of Commerce ribbon-cutting event off of CR 250. The animals are owned by Scott Severance, who rents them out for lawn service through Goats On The Go. Photo by Mark Stracke
A new business affiliate just opened shop in Burnet, providing an unusual lawn service that rids your landscape of invasive species, fertilizes, aerates, and does not harm the environment with gas fumes. It’s also really quiet, and you don’t have to do a thing but relax.
Jennifer and Scott Severance of Burnet started a local Goats On The Go, part of a growing network of goat owners working through an affiliate website to rent their herds to anyone who wants to clear land without breaking a sweat or polluting the environment.
“The goats take out invasive species while still maintaining the beauty of the land,” Scott Severance said. “If you don’t want a completely flat pasture, my goats can help.”
Severance’s path to the goat game took some interesting turns. After serving as an active-duty soldier and working as a teacher, he decided to follow his passion for entrepreneurship. He and Jennifer bought a 21-acre ranch in Burnet and started raising livestock. He also got to work sprucing up his property, which was overgrown with weeds and thicket.
“I spent about three months trying to clear it myself,” Severance said. “After three months, I was so tired of it, I decided to have my livestock do it for me.”
A friend recommended he try goats.
“I started out with one or two, and it quickly transitioned into an entire herd,” he said.
Severance watched as his once-overgrown property transformed into a beautiful tract of land one chomping goat at a time. Later, he joined Goats On The Go, a nationwide affiliate, and started making house calls in Burnet, Williamson, and parts of Llano and Travis counties.
Unlike other livestock, such as cows and sheep, goats are foragers, making them fantastic landscapers. They focus on leafy species of plants like poison ivy, poison oak, thistle, and ragweed. They do eat grass, but it’s the last thing on their list of preferences.
Goats munch away in hard-to-reach places that regular lawnmowers can’t go. Severance’s herd can clear a half-acre a day.
“If you want something that is totally green, goats are it,” Severance said. “The only thing that’s technically heavy machinery is my trailer and my truck. That’s it.”
Additionally, goat droppings naturally fertilize the ground and are packed full of nitrogen, phosphoric acid, and potassium. Coupled with sharp hooves that churn soil, goats ensure your lawn is aerated and rich with nutrients.
The idea of having goats clear out land isn’t a new one. In 2009, the search engine company Google hired 200 goats in lieu of lawnmowers to graze undeveloped land at its headquarters in Mountain View, California. Similarly, in 2015, the Congressional Cemetery in Washington, D.C., hired 30 goats to eat away at unwanted weeds sprouting among the graves of historic American political figures.
Goat grazers do have a few drawbacks, however. Excellent climbers, they have been known to hop onto cars and other items outside your home that you might not want scratched or gnawed.
“They’re not the easiest animal to corral,” Severance said. “You have to have a solid structure to keep them in.”
They also require care and feed outside of the junk food they find in your yard, but the goats’ owners take care of that. While goats love weeds and leafy plants, they also need alfalfa and hay to live long, healthy lives. And if you’re planning to send goats out onto your property, make sure you haven’t used any herbicides or pesticides because it could poison the animals.
Despite those few precautions, Goats On The Go has so many positives it’s easy to understand why people across the country have decided to ditch clearing brush themselves and now use goats — the way nature intended.
“This is a new, exciting, and rising industry,” Severance said of Goats On The Go. “It’s great for people who want to preserve the beauty of their land.”
To rent a goat from Goats On The Go, visit goatsonthego.com and click on “FIND A HERD” at the bottom of the homepage. You can also find more information on the Goats On The Go Facebook page.
The next step is for Severance to load up his herd of goats and bring them straight to your property.