Oklahoma City buys goats to beautify Lake Hefner landscape

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OKLAHOMA CITY – Move over lawnmowers. Hungry goats are taking over.

“Because it was so successful, we decided to continue the goat project on our own,” said Debbie Ragan with the OKC Utilities Department. “In all, this goes through Oklahoma City’s Water Utilities Division.”

The herbivores were on loan from Langston University’s Goat Institute last year to eat away brush on the Lake Hefner Canal.

 The City just returned the borrowed herd and bought their own workforce.

“The new ones are 24 nannies,” Ragan said. “They’re female goats that were purchased at the Oklahoma City livestock stockyards.”

According to officials, the new goats cost the City $3,800 at auction and, so far, they said they’re paying off for the environment.

“By reducing the amount of hazardous chemicals that we may use on vegetation, reducing the need for heavy equipment in the submissions are just very environmentally friendly,” Ragan said.

It’s also a way to keep city employees out of harm’s way.

“The Hefner Canal has very steep slopes, and it’s unsafe for our guys to get down onto the slopes,” said Troy Wilkins, field operations supervisor with the city.

Adding to the collection, some goats and a couple of sheep were donated by Animal Welfare, as well as donkeys to keep guard over the herd.

The whole group is taking some time off, resting at their winter home at Lake Stanley Draper.

“They just lay around and graze and eat all of the time, ” Ragan said.

The head of the Langston Goat Institute said they’ve already helped other cities like Stillwater and Guthrie start their own program and expects it to grow in popularity.

“It’s our goal to work ourselves out of a job really,” said Dr. Steve Hart, research scientist at Langston University.

The goats will head back to Lake Hefner in the spring to get back to what they know best.

“On the canal on the brush and weeds – that’s what God created goats for,” Hart said.

The Hefner Canal Goats even have their own Facebook page.

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