Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Weed-Eating Goats for Hire?

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Weed-Eating Goats for Hire?

Article excerpt

Goats can't legally reside in Pittsburgh - yet - but a number of people want them as regular visitors. And an entrepreneur hopes to fulfill that wish.

Carrie Pavlik of Allentown, 30, is starting Steel City Grazers, a goats-for-hire business to put the animals to work clearing overgrowth.

She is trying to raise $40,000 at Indiegogo.com by March 23 to buy equipment and livestock to be ready for work by summer. She will house the herd legally outside city limits but close enough to keep transportation costs down, she said.

There is no city policy on the use of goats as eco-stewards, but the city is inching closer to allowing urban goat keeping.

On Tuesday and on March 24, planners will present the Planning Commission with revisions to zoning regulations, "which would allow people for the first time to keep goats in the city," said Andrew Dash, assistant director of strategic planning. The proposal would limit dwarf goats to small lots.

Last summer, an Alcoa Foundation grant paid for a Tree Pittsburgh pilot project in Polish Hill. Saxonburg goat farmer Erik Schwalm brought his herd to thin vegetation on a slope in West Penn Park. It was a good demonstration of how goats can be good eco-stewards, said Tree Pittsburgh's executive director Danielle Crumrine. The city installed temporary fencing.

Mr. Schwalm said so few enterprises exist in the region that there is no well-established rate. He charged $400.

Maryland-based Eco-Goats was for several years the only company available, but increasingly throughout the country, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the U.S. Forestry Service, municipalities, institutions, nonprofits and landowners have hired goats to control overgrowth.

Ms. Pavlik lived among farm animals when she served in the Peace Corps in Zambia and established bees and chickens on her property in Allentown when she returned.

She said Tree Pittsburgh's Polish Hill event last summer inspired her to go into the goat business.

"I hope to start with around 10, possibly increasing that to 20 the next year," she said.

Using goats for weed control eliminates the need for pesticides. Goats fertilize the soil as they work and mash seeds they eat, making them non-viable for future growth when they defecate. …

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