City using goats to clean up area in park

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LEXINGTON, Ky. (WTVQ) Some Lexington parks are attracting visitors using their new splash pad water features. Idle Hour Park, off St. Ann Drive, has goats.

“I bet a thousand people have already come by to see them,” says Al Dilley of Glasgow, Kentucky. Dilley owns Goat Browsers, an “environmentally friendly land enhancement service.” Dilly and his 17 goats are under contract with the city to goatscape (clean up) an overgrown, two-acre area of the park.

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“Primarily, they’re here to knock this vegetation down where the city can see what they’ve got and then they’ll make some decisions about how to maintain the area after that,” Dilley says. “There’s some kudzu over there on the other side of the creek that’s the primary objective. The goats haven’t gotten to it yet.”

Dilley put up electrified fencing, surrounded by orange safety fencing, before he turned the goats loose. Dilley says it takes a couple of days for the goats to get settled in and get used to the noises. Then the goats get down to work.

“Goats are low maintenance animals,” Dilley says. “All they know is to eat.”

He says his “crew” will likely clear the area in two or three weeks. According to Dilley, a goat will consume about 3% of its body weight in a day, and some of his goats weigh close to 200 lbs. “Normally, 15 goats will do an acre in a couple of weeks, more or less.”

Hiring goats to clear overgrown areas is gaining in popularity because it is a relatively low cost, environmentally friendly option.

Dilley points out that heavy machinery can often, “destroy some stuff you probably would want to save.” He goes on to add that manual labor can be expensive and comes with safety concerns.

People coming to the park to watch baseball games have stopped by. They have posted photos on social media sites, which have brought even more visitors. Asked if people come to see him or the goats, Dilley quickly answers “the goats.”

Tending to his goats, Dilley says, gives him a purpose and has since 2009. Together, Dilley and his “crew” have cleaned abandoned family cemeteries, city-owned properties, part of an Army base and property owned by the Boy Scouts.

“You have to be a little crazy to do something like this,” Dilley says. “I enjoy working with animals. Every morning I get up I want a purpose in life. I can only drink so much coffee and tell so many tales and then I’m done. I need to be doing something.”

Media Release from Department of Environmental Quality and Public Works