I’m usually don’t read a news item strictly because of a whacky headline, but this one grabbed me: “VTA Sheep Grazing Contract Extended.”The thing is, it’s not an outlandish headline, at least not on purpose. The Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority (VTA) put out a press release to announce it extended a contract by one year and for $20,000 that enables sheep and goats to continue providing weed abatement services at the Cerone Operating Division in North San Jose, Calif. Honest, no tongue-in-cheek here.The facility includes about 60 acres of open land that requires ongoing weed abatement work, and the service provider rotates in both sheep and goats — anywhere from 50 to 1,000 animals at one time — to eat up the pesky plants.“In addition to being both less expensive and less labor intensive than mowing with tractors, the use of grazing animals has important environmental benefits,” said VTA General Manager Michael Burns in the press release.Those benefits include improved water absorption and nutrient flow, decreased lawn-mower emissions and reduced pesticide usage.“In addition, grazing rather than mowing open fields is less disruptive to bird and animal populations living in the area,” the press release states. Again, honest. I couldn’t make this up if I tried. If you don’t believe me, follow this link to read it for yourself.I’m really not trying to get your goat — OK, I forced that in here. Bad pun, I know.
Gee Jeff, it's not like you to feel sheepish.
Interesting concept but I can't see a practical use on a regular high-density freight right-of-way.
This can actually be a good idea outside of most rail applications, but as RSteveb mentions, you need a place that has some downtime. When you have an area with limited equipment access just far too far from the track that provides a launching point for brambles, this could actually makes sense.
I've seen goats used to mow sensitive areas -weapons holding areas, ammunition bunkers, and so forth, where the terrain might be uneven, and sparking machinery might not be the best idea..and where a typical landscaping crew might not be the best choice, either.
I've also seen them used for eliminating non-native blackberries on hillsides. These guys can eat stuff that looks and feels an awful lot like greenish-brown barbed wire, on terrain that looks closer to vertical than horizontal.
This sure sounds like a good idea and the right thing to do. But I wouldn't be surprised if it didn't draw negative attention from some animal activist group or even some labor union. After reading a storey like this it usally is the next one to follow.
Golly, DHEIS, do you think the union leadership wants to have the work of crawling around on its hands and kneed eting weeds? Or maybe the just want the work of handling the goats?
The goat handling job would logically fall under the purview of the IBGH, the International Brotherhood of Goat Handlers for those not in "the know".
Curt: According to the Railway Labor Act of 1926 all members of a class and craft must be represented by a union, and the union shall be chosen by the workers to be represented. How do we get the goats to cast their votes?
LK, maybe the goats cast their votes by a baaa-lot?
Oh, that's good, DaveB