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Goats enjoy all-you-can-eat buffet of kudzu and poison ivy

Targeted grazing goats clear weeds where regular landscaping equipment can't reach

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — It's a typical work day for some hungry goats. 

The view is nice, the schedule is flexible, and it's got great benefits. 

"They wake up, they eat, and they go to sleep. And they rinse and repeat and do that every two hours all day long," Keith Bridges said. He is the owner of Knox Goats. 

The targeted grazing goats are hired to clear land heavy equipment can't reach, like a particular hill on the University of Tennessee Ag Campus. 

The goats are reliable workers but they are definitely not livestock.

"They are definitely pets. All of them have names. All of them get handled as much as possible when they are first born we get the kids out there playing with them so they get docile like this and enjoy the attention of people," Keith Bridges said.

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Nigerian Dwarf goats are docile and even friendly

Three of his herds of Nigerian Dwarves take on small jobs inside city limits. He also has a herd of bigger animals. 

"I have a very large herd of 45 goats at the Oak Ridge National Lab clearing a 46-acre patch of kudzu. That's a 6-month project this year," he said. 

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Keith Bridges brings the goats a special treat of grain every day

Goats will eat just about anything.

"They love kudzu and poison ivy and a lot of things that we don't even want to touch. They'll eat briars and blackberries," he said. "I just like to give them a little bit of grain every day just to get them used to coming to see me. It gives me an opportunity to take a look at them and make sure they're all doing good. And I get a headcount to make sure nobody is missing."

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Knox Goats are targeted grazing goats

There was that time last year with a fencing mix-up when a goat escaped.

"She got northbound on the southbound lane of Alcoa highway trying to cross the bridge to the Cherokee Farms site. Thankfully animal control was able to get her back," he said. "Every day is a different challenge, just something new and exciting. No two days are the same."

Credit: WBIR
A fence secures the goats and shows a clear line of the kudzu beyond its boundary

Where the fencing ends, the kudzu grows.

Looks like the goats will need to come baaack next year. 

Next week the goats will move to another job in Knoxville and then head to Morristown and Rutledge and New Market. 

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