Goats munch on hay at a western North Carolina farm. (Feb. 28, 2013/FOX Carolina)
HORSESHOE, NC (FOX Carolina) -
It's said that goats will eat anything, and that's what local farmers are banking on.
The four-legged guys are being used like lawn mowers, but in this case it's not grass that needs to be mowed down, it's kudzu.
Kudzu is a pesky vine, and it's a big time problem in the town of Mount Holly, NC, which is between Gastonia and Charlotte. This spring, the city plans to turn to farm animals for help.
Thursday, the goats at Well's Farm in Horseshoe, NC, munched on hay, but come summer time, day in and day out, they'll be snacking on kudzu.
The western North Carolina land used to be a dairy farm, but now, it is where goats are born and bred.
About 15 years ago, its owner, Ron Searcy, bought some goats to clear his overgrown fields. By 2007, Searcy started marketing his goats as rentable, living weed eaters.
He said he didn't even tell his wife that he had gone to an Asheville farm expo, "Because I knew she'd think I was an idiot."
Searcy has done quite well, renting out his 250 goats during the last six years, since kudzu, the native Japanese weed, has become such a pest in America.
It was first used for erosion control, but over the years, it's gotten out of control. Searcy said the weed will smother any other living plant it grows on, especially trees and bushes.
The farm is the goats' winter home. They've got jobs already booked for them in three different states throughout the summer.
Searcy said places like Davidson College near Charlotte and a hydro-electric dam in Bath County, VA, have seen big time results.
"Before we showed up, they had just about [threw] their hands up on it. They actually had people manually weed eating this dam with weed eaters - 15 acres or more with weed eaters. It [had] become just a monumental job," said Searcy.
It's a goat job that the city of Mount Holly hopes will work for them, too.
The goats' weed-eating season usually runs from April or May through September or October, when the kudzu sprouts. Searcy said his farm near Asheville is one of the few in the country that raises goats specifically for hire like this.
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