HR Strange But True!
May 13, 2009

“High on a hill stood a lonely goatherd,” but the hill was in Silicon Valley. Google wanted to clear brush from fields on its property to prevent wildfires, but shied away from the noise and air pollution caused by power mowers. So the company decided to go green--with grazing goats!

The Official Google Blog calls the goats a “low-carbon,” ecologically sound solution to the weed problem that are more fun to watch than the mowers! (See a video at Plus, according to the blog, the goats also “fertilize at the same time.”

The 200 goats aren't employees—they're “temps,” rented for 1-week intervals on an as-needed basis, along with a border collie and goat herders, from California Grazing, a “holistic land management company.”

The company's “environmentally friendly, self-propelled weed eaters are cute and cost-effective critters that remove thistle, brush, weeds, and other invasive plants,” according to the company website, “and eliminate noxious weeds, restore native grasses, and address fire prevention through fuel load reduction.”

Fox News' TechCrunch contacted PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals) about the Google rent-a-goats, and the organization said it had no problem with them doing their job as long as they have enough water and shelter and are transported in a caring manner. Google told TechCrunch that the goats do get the perk of all the “organic lunch they can eat.”

Well, you may be thinking, we all know how the goats “restore native grasses” after their free lunch. But aren't those “goat gifts” a form of pollution themselves?

Not to worry, says Clare Condon , BLR's Managing Environmental Editor. “I don't foresee a tremendous amount of pollution from such a small tribe of goats. And any possible pollution from the animals' ‘run off' pales in comparison to the pollution caused by large power mowers.”

However, observes Condon, Google may want to consider that the goats will “contribute” to methane emissions, which is a big problem in Central California . “Methane is a far more potent threat than carbon dioxide,” she says. “It's about 20 times more powerful as a greenhouse gas than C0 2 .”

So are the goats really greener than the mowers? Ask Yahoo!; it uses goats, too.

Sources: Official Google Blog and Fox News

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