When it comes to landscaping, Queensland water business Seqwater doesn’t kid around. It recently hired eight new employees to maintain the area around its Landers Shute water treatment plant.
The new hires have been called in to tackle weeds and overgrown grass on the slopes surrounding the treatment plant, which are too steep to mow and too dangerous to brush cut. Luckily, they have 32 legs between them and like to eat on the job.
Yes, they’re goats.
Seqwater spends more than $250,000 a year mowing its northern sites, and Manager of Northern Operations Murray Dunstan said using goats was an effective alternative to traditional petrol mowers.
Not only do the hoofed horticulturalists save the business money, they also eliminate the potential risk to Seqwater staff that came from mowing steep areas.
“Before the goats, we were using very expensive remote mowers and flail excavators to keep the vegetation under control,” he said.
“Unfortunately, by mowing that way we ran the risk of hitting hidden objects in the long grass, which would damage equipment and injure staff.
“The equipment was very expensive as well. By using the goats we expect to save about $10,000 a year in landscaping costs.”
The goats are supplied by Sunshine Coast business Ecogoats, which is run by ArborCare Queensland Managing Director Leo Phelan.
Phelan established his goat herd in 2013 after receiving funding from SEQ Catchments to investigate using goats as a cost-effective weed control option.
“The goats performed extremely well, so it turned into a business for us,” Phelan said.
“The goats have evolved into an effective landscape management tool, particularly for those who don’t want to use herbicides or where the land is too steep to safely use machines.”
With the Landers Shute trial a success, Seqwater plans to add another 20 goats to the site and goat for it at other locations.