Goats serve as eco-friendly landscapers in Md., Va.

Jacqueline Bowen, 14, who helps run the Green Goats business with her mother Mary, holds a baby goat. Jacqueline is in charge of naming every goat born to the family\'s herd, and says every name is a reflection of each goat\'s personality. (Capital News Service photo by Patrick Farrell)

Capital News Service

SUNDERLAND, Md. — Have you herd? Goats will soon be making their way through Maryland and Northern Virginia, as property owners trade machinery and labor crews for hungry, four-legged landscapers ready to decimate any vegetation in their way.

Mary Bowen, owner of Sunderland-based Green Goats and Prosperity Acres farm, will be putting her herd of over 70 goats to work from May to October, using them to clear overgrown vegetation in various private and public areas across the state.

Unlike traditional land-clearing methods such as herbicide treatments and excavation services, which can have adverse effects on the environment, goats offer an environmentally-friendly alternative.

Poison ivy, poison oak and poison sumac are some of the goats’ favorite vegetation choices, making the animals perfect for jobs with highly concentrated areas of poisonous plants that humans wouldn’t dare tackle themselves.

Bowen founded Green Goats three years ago, with the intention of providing a service that would benefit both the environment and the state.

For years the Bowen family had been showing goats, along with cattle and horses, at local 4-H shows around the state, including the Anne Arundel County Fair, in Crownsville, and the Maryland State Fair, in Timonium.

“I wanted to be able to do something with the goats other than showing them

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