Goat, sheep ‘landscapers’ weed out invasive plants

News

PARIS, Ill. (WCIA) — Getting your yard summer-ready can mean hours of hard work, but there’s a special landscaping team in Edgar County helping people get the job done.

“[It] started with three goats. Then, it went to five. Then, it just grew from there,” says Kevin Shewey.

He’s now the owner and operator of the Goat Green Clearing business in Paris.

There’s nearly 100 employees, but they’re not your typical blue collar worker. They’re goats and sheep.

Customers call Shewey wanting to get rid of weeds and invasive plants on their property.

The goats are browsers, and the sheep are grazers.

“The goats prefer the higher-up stuff, the brushy stuff. The sheep will take care of the grasses,” says Shewey.

They eat it all: briars, honeysuckle, autumn olives, and more.

An electric fence keeps them in, but Shewey says the animals are more worried about getting some grub than trying to escape.

“I don’t think there’s very many plants that can survive an onslaught of animals doing what they do naturally,” says Shewey.

They’re currently working alongside a lake behind a vet clinic. The animals are chowing down to get to a beaver damn hidden in the brush.

“Every other year they plant corn back there, and they take out about an acre of corn,” says Roz Davis with Lakeside Veterinary Clinic. “They use it for their beaver hut.”

The job comes with good benefits. Shewey says the plants make for a natural diet.

“They will be just as healthy eating what they’re supposed to be eating instead of pumping them full of grain.”

Shewey says grain-fed goats are mostly good for growing hooves and horn, and that’s not needed with this work.

Plus, it’s an environmentally friendly way to get rid of pesky plants.

“Nobody really wants to go around and spray a bunch of chemicals. It takes a lot longer for the ground to recover,” says Shewey.

The animals open up the ground and allow the good stuff to come back, and whatever they leave behind acts as great fertilizer.

Shewey says nothing slows them down. They can clear about an acre a day.

After they’re full, they usually settle down for a nap.

“They just love it,” says Shewey.

Kevin Shewey can be reached at (217)264-6725. The Goat Green Clearing Facebook page can be found here.

Copyright 2021 Nexstar Media Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.