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Friendly weed-eaters will really get your goat

These goats earn their keep by eating weeds most of us would never even touch

The goats eat their way through weeds - a gourmet meal

By Makayla Zurn, KTVZ.COM

A ranch in Powell Butte is offering up a green alternative to getting rid of noxious weeds.

And their "workers" really love the job.

Goats. What do they do? ;They eat and eat ;- ;and eat some more.

But it's what they eat that earns them their keep on Lariat Ranch.

"Knapweed, Russian thistle or leafy spurge, things that other animals find toxic and not palatable at all," said Rachel Jones, owner of Lariat Ranch Ecological Services, ;the only prescribed grazing company in Central Oregon.

Prescribed grazing is an environmentally friendly way to clear fields without using chemicals.

"When you bring the animals into the field, ;it's a natural organic way of taking care of a problem that's taking over Central Oregon," Jones said Thursday.

We're talking noxious weeds - they're everywhere.

Tumbleweed, better known as Russian Thistle, is a good example. ;You see it flying across the road every once in a while.

Well, the goats actually eat it, while other animals won't even touch it.

Jones never thought she'd be the owner of a goat farm.

The former public relations manager had her own noxious weed problem and decided to get a couple goats to fix it.

"Well, two wasn't doing the job, so we got four. And four turned into eight, and eight into 400.

And so the business began.

When Lariat Ranch is called upon, they bring the whole crew - ;their herding and security dogs, fences and of course, the workers.

It's about $3 per goat for 24 hours, and they only eat the bad stuff - well, that's what we consider it, anyway.

It's ;gourmet for them.

One of the best parts of the whole process: ;The goat feces is non-viable, meaning the weed seeds don't make it through.

"We've had people come to our door and say, 'What is it that you've put on your fields that they are so beautiful, compared to everybody else's?' ;It's just goat poop - that's it." ;

It takes the goats about three to five years of annual visits to completely get rid of the noxious weeds. A single visit is optional, to get rid of the problem temporarily.

To contact Lariat Ranch Ecological Services, call them at 541-420-1086.
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