Wednesday, June 12

Landscaping Goats Lend a Hoof to Homeowners Association

Have you ever come across a landscaping job that seemed to be beyond human ability? Well, maybe you should have hired a goat.

Orinda-based company Goats R Us doesn’t bother with landscaping equipment. They just supply goats: hungry heards of goats who munch all day on brush, poison oak, weeds and grass.

600 of their goats were recently hired by the Homeowners Association of Deer Flats to get rid of an unwanted greenbelt of foliage. They’ve been munching on vegetation in the greenbelt for a week now and expect to be there for a couple more.

According to the Homeowners Association, they get better results from the goats than from the humans they’ve hired in the past. While the human gardeners wouldn’t go more than five feet past the fence line, the goats are happy to keep on eating until the whole hillside is pleasantly cleared out.

The goats are also able to reach difficult areas, easily combing uneven hillsides and clambering through thick vegetation.

The unusual goat company was founded by Egon and Terri Oyarzun in 1995, when their neighbor hired their 54-goat herd to clear his yard. Since then, their herd has grown to include a veritable army of 7,500 goats, wrangled into 11 herds by a close-knit team of herders and border collies, the Oyarzuns and their 23-year-old son Zephyr, who also handles operations and driving.

Egon is a rancher from Chile, and Terri was raised with plenty of animals around, so both of them are very enthusiastic about their animals and the unique service they provide.

The animals are treated well and even have what the Oyarzun’s call medical and retirement plans. The goats are treated as pets and many have names and unique characters. They don’t slaughter their goats when they’re too old to work, they just retire them.

Supposedly, the youngest Oyarzun is taking over the functions of the business so his parents can retire as well, but the adventurous family shows no sign of slowing down.

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