REDMOND, OR -- A herd of goats is still chomping away on 138 acres of city-owned property, northwest of Redmond’s wastewater treatment plant. Wastewater Division Manager Ryan Kirchner says the city gets two cuttings a year of orchard grass from the field and sells it to local farmers. On November 16th, the goats started eating what’s grown since the second cutting, which can't be harvested. "It’s really good for the orchard grass, and it’s beneficial for a local farmer," Kirchner tells KBND News, "Instead of him having to utilize hay that he’s bailed up or stored or purchased for the winter, he’s able to utilize this hay, which otherwise would just go to waste because the grass would die over the winter."
He says the city isn't paying for the animals to take the grass down to bare dirt, "Around 600 goats came out to the property. The goat herder set up the fences. There’s a goat dog that protects the goats; and he’s quite ferocious."
The goats are working around the Wastewater Division's schedule, as the property is used for their operation. "We actually spread biosolids this time of year. Those biosolids are what’s produced at the wastewater facility," says Kirchner, "We use those biosolids as nutrient fertilizer for the orchard grass; we typically spread in the fall and the spring." He says the goats eat a section of the parcel, called a "pivot," before the farmer shifts them to another area, "We’ll move them to another pivot, so then we can spread the biosolids on the one that they were previously on." The farmer must wait 30 days before the goats can return to a section where biosolids have been spread.
"The goats, right now, in that short amount of time since the 16th, have eaten the grass down to bare earth. They’ve eaten about 15 acres of it." They’ll keep rotating around sections of the property as long as the feed lasts and the weather holds. This is the first time Redmond has used goats to clear the property. Kirchner says it’s going so well, he’s sure they’ll do it again.