Google hires goats as low-carbon lawnmowers

Over the last week one of the world's biggest high tech companies used some very low tech weed control methods.

A herd of 200 goats were let loose in a field near the Googleplex to munch on some weeds that were originally so high the goats were lost in them, said Google spokesperson Niki Fenwick. By Sunday, the hungry goats had left behind an all but barren field.

"It was kind of amazing to watch -- the grass was really tall," Fenwick said. "It was really cute."

The "self propelled weed eaters" came from grazing company California Grazing, which used a border collie and an electric fence to keep the goats contained during their stay.

Fenwick said the goats were an effective "low carbon" alternative to gas powered lawn mowing. It cost about the same, too, and fertilized the ground at the same time.

The weed abatement occurred on the open field at Garcia Avenue and Amphitheatre Parkway, just north of the former Alza buildings that are now part of the Googleplex. The goats will return once a year, Fenwick said.


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Posted by Andrew
a resident of Old Mountain View
on May 4, 2009 at 1:29 pm

Crazy. But good crazy. :)

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Posted by Lucky
a resident of Old Mountain View
on May 4, 2009 at 1:30 pm

What a great idea, we went to see the goats several times. They should use them full time. It was a real throw back to the era before dot com, as that neighborhood was mostly farms.

2 people like this
Posted by USA
a resident of Old Mountain View
on May 4, 2009 at 3:10 pm

USA is a registered user.

It this silly stunts like this that have the majority of Americans now believing the global warming is a fraud.

Did anyone think to ask how much fuel was burnt to transport 200 goats to an from the site vs. the amount that would have be burnt by a small tractor pulling a cutter? Did anyone think about the greenhouse gases produced by 200 goats or the other output from the goats now covering the field?

How about just planting native grasses, bushes, and trees then letting nature take its course? It would support native animals. There would be no maintenance, no watering, no fuel burnt, and no goats.

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Posted by Gee
a resident of another community
on May 4, 2009 at 4:36 pm

That's awesome. I hope someone took pictures.

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Posted by USA
a resident of Old Mountain View
on May 4, 2009 at 9:53 pm

USA is a registered user.

Greens showing their true colors. How sad for you.

The goat and sheep grazing is all the rage now with the Greens. Like Al Gore's mansion or the emperor's new clothes, its just one of those things that cannot be questioned. After a while once the novelty wears off and people see that it is ineffective, they will move onto the next fade.

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Posted by Richard
a resident of another community
on May 4, 2009 at 9:57 pm

USA claims that the majority of Americans believe that global warming is a fraud. I don't know where he gets the data for that statement, but I am painfuly aware that the vast majority of our population is quite ignorant of the basics of science and therefore not capable of rendering an intelligent judgment on issues like this. Our previous president did us incalculable harm in that regard, with his attempts to reduce science to a political endeavor. Thank goodness we had an intelligent leader now who understands and respects science and other intellectual pursuits.

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Posted by USA
a resident of Old Mountain View
on May 5, 2009 at 9:58 am

USA is a registered user.

Richard -- To be more exact, the question is not so much global warming as it is whether humans are responsible for it. There are a number of polls out there. Check the major pollsters websites. Here is one for example, Web Link As with the political polls, the results need to be taken with a grain of salt. Though the data varies from poll to poll, the trend is towards disbelief.

I am not arguing against global warming or it purported causes. I am arguing that the self-styled Greens are themselves a large part of the problem. Their push for these trendy "solutions" that are ineffective undermines the public's concern for real environmental problems and the implementation of real solutions.

This thread is a great example. I posited that trucking 200 goats in and out of the area is a net increase in fuel used. I suggested an alternative solution. The response? I was told to shut up and got a rant about the previous Federal administration.

You want to label yourselves as the broad-minded, well informed people who understand and respect science and other intellectual pursuits? Fine. Start earning that label.

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Posted by Zenne
a resident of another community
on May 5, 2009 at 10:01 am

Every bit counts... every can recycled, every goat hired to eat grass... it all adds up! Great idea!!!


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Posted by Cali
a resident of Rex Manor
on May 5, 2009 at 10:39 am

California uses the same in some grassy areas across the state. They don't get sick, have plenty of open space, get plenty of food, do a really good job, and don't need much other then water. One of few thing I consider a wise investment by the state.

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Posted by eric
a resident of another community
on May 5, 2009 at 11:31 am

I cant tell you how much I hate writing this, but...

USA has a good point.


Google has done some good things on their campus with green power, but its hard to get past the private fighter jets that add big whopping lead weights to their carbon footprint.

Goats are a stunt and a gimmick. Native plants would be a wise-- and real-- step. It would also be a nice aesthetic choice given the surrounding landscape.

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Posted by Avi
a resident of North Whisman
on May 5, 2009 at 12:29 pm

I agree with USA. Smart and correct, and I don't want him/her to shut up. For sure it was fun to see goats there but hey - how they got them there????? It wasn't fun to see on Freeway - that's for sure!

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Posted by Frances
a resident of Old Mountain View
on May 5, 2009 at 2:54 pm

Wow, I actually agree with USA on this one! It's the transporting of the 200 goats that makes it all start to sound ridiculous.

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Posted by Zeke Canidae
a resident of another community
on May 5, 2009 at 4:18 pm

There are locations where embankments are so steep that a lawn mower can't do the job. So in some cases clearing brush is best done by goats. Clearing brush is not a case of holding back nature; rather it's preventing dangerous brush fires.

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Posted by USA
a resident of Old Mountain View
on May 5, 2009 at 8:50 pm

USA is a registered user.

Eric - LOL. Since you are in a generous mood, would you be willing to go so far as to admit that a concern over illegal immigration is not the same as being anti-immigrant or racist? :-)

Zeke -- Fair point. My parents in the hills above Saratoga are required to keep about a 30-foot wide firebreak around their house. They can get a cutter on the hillside, but a dozen goats with a dog and electronic fence would probably do well there. If the goats were simply herded from one house to the next along the road, that could be a win-win.

Since we are on the subject -- the permanent cow herd on Stanford land around 280 is OK. There are some issue about green house gasses, non-native animals, and germ-laden runoff, but the maintenance is low, fuel consumptions low, and it keeps people from building yet more condos like those around the Sand Hill exit.

Now, if I could just get that silly Mountain View museum moved to one of the many existing, empty buildings in town instead of paving over Cuesta Park Annex ...

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Posted by eric
a resident of another community
on May 6, 2009 at 12:03 am

USA-- I dont think that you are racist, just wrong-headed :) I dont debate stupid people. I do think, however, that many who share your talking points are attempting to disguise their racism. I bet that you agree with that.

The Cuesta Pk museum is even more wrong-headed than your immigration stance (and it aint going in a privately owned building just because the market is bad right now)--and curse you for bringing up something else we agree on...

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Posted by local
a resident of Castro City
on May 6, 2009 at 9:52 am

I submitted for this position and was told that an overwhelming number of candidates had applied and unfortunately, Google has decided to pursue other more qualified candidates. Google did encourage me to review other open positions on their website. Goat herder? Goat trucker? Goat administrator?

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Posted by manbearpig
a resident of Cuesta Park
on May 7, 2009 at 2:31 pm

USA is a genius, USA knows everything - watch out!

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Posted by Who cares
a resident of Shoreline West
on May 7, 2009 at 3:21 pm

Ummm so what that Goggle put some goats out there. It is cheeper than getting guys on lawn mowers out there to cut the grass down. They are fun to look at because you don't get to see them every day and Google got to piss off PETA (as reported on Cheasly Lately). HaHa

Again, USA = One who rebels against the established system just to be heard. I am not sure why he post here so much. No body really reads the Voice. Wait why am I reading this....back to the real media (I pick channel two news).

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Posted by cheasly
a resident of Whisman Station
on May 7, 2009 at 3:34 pm

The real media: Cheasly Lately.

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Posted by yuki
a resident of another community
on May 7, 2009 at 7:45 pm


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Posted by downtown neighbor
a resident of Old Mountain View
on May 10, 2009 at 7:28 pm

Goats emit methane gas, which is a powerful greenhouse gas, unlike carbon dioxide, which has a negligible effect. I like that Google is working on green issues, but in this case they are just bowing to propaganda.

I like USA's idea of native plants and trees.

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Posted by TW
a resident of another community
on Jun 29, 2009 at 4:08 am

USA is correct, and unfortunately those are Boer goats aka meat goats, that will be slaughtered for meat. Good deal for the goat farmer - free goat feed / that you get paid to feed to your goats / goats then go to slaughter market.

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