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Company employing goats to clear brush

Nov. 11, 2012 at 12:27 PM   |   Comments

SANTA BARBARA, Calif., Nov. 11 (UPI) -- Fire-prone residents and municipalities in California are calling an up-and-coming company that employs goats to eat away fire-fueling vegetation.

Brush Goats 4 Hire, a Santa Barbara County outfit​, will bring more than 60 goats to eat chemise, ceanothus, thistle and assorted native grasses that pose fire hazards, USA Today reported.

"They'll eat for about 20 minutes, then lie down like they're pregnant," said owner Lorraine Argo.

The company is paid for by a federal Fire Safe Council grant of $67,000 that was procured by the local homeowner's association.

"Our concept is to put the goats where they shine the best. On hillsides where you can't put machines or where it's dangerous for people to be. These goats are amazingly agile," said Ian Newsam, Argo's husband.

Michele Steinberg, Firewise Communities program manager for the National Fire Protection Association, said goats have been used in Emigration Canyon, Utah, Hidden Valley Ranch in Prescott, Ariz., and in Broomfield, Colo., earlier this spring in similar projects.

And, there is still room for growth for businesses such as Brush Goats 4 hire on a national level, said Roger Ingram, farm adviser with the University of California Cooperative Extension

"It's still a kind of embryonic industry, but there is certainly more and more growing demand. It's going to continue to evolve because the fire risk is not going to go away," he said.

© 2012 United Press International, Inc. All Rights Reserved. Any reproduction, republication, redistribution and/or modification of any UPI content is expressly prohibited without UPI's prior written consent.
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