A goat reaches to eat leaves off a tree Sept. 20. It’s one of 410 released on just over 2 acres of land at Anderson Park in a north Fort Worth neighborhood. The city of Fort Worth partnered with GoatScaping LLC to clear out overgrown vegetation. (Cristian ArguetaSoto | Fort Worth Report)

Haley Gosnell unleashed hundreds of goats at Anderson Park with one goal in mind: clear out vegetation overgrowth.

Gosnell, the owner of GoatScaping LLC, grew up in Arlington but had a change of heart about city life and decided to work with farm animals — specifically goats. Now, she travels North Texas with her companions in order to clean up green space naturally.

“Goats are like kids. If you picture a full meal, they’re going to go for the ice cream and the good stuff first, so when you put them into these areas, they’re going for the stuff that tastes good and you’re forcing them to eat everything,” Gosnell said. “So, for about six-and-a-half feet high, there’ll be nothing [when they’re done].”

The city of Fort Worth implemented this method of clearing land Sept. 20 in partnership with Gosnell’s company. The animals aim to clear out more than 2 acres in the north Fort Worth green space — without chemicals or machinery.

Chris Swindle, a senior contract compliance specialist with the city, said this is the first time Fort Worth has tried using goats. If the program is successful, it could become an environmentally friendly method of choice, he said.

Goats wait in a trailer Sept. 20. The ruminants were released into Anderson Park in north Fort Worth to clear overgrown vegetation. GoatScaping LLC transported 410 goats for the job, which is expected to take two or three days. (Cristian ArguetaSoto | Fort Worth Report)
Goats run out of a trailer into the green space they will graze on for up to three days. The city of Fort Worth piloted the goat-grazing program to determine whether it is viable for future projects, Senior Contract Compliance Specialist Chris Swindle said. (Cristian ArguetaSoto | Fort Worth Report)
Walter Llantas-Cruz makes sure all the goats exited the trailer Sept. 20. Llantas-Cruz began his journey as a shepherd with GoatScaping LLC about two years ago, he said. Llantas-Cruz stays with the goats overnight to tend to their needs and direct them where they should be grazing by using electric fencing. (Cristian ArguetaSoto | Fort Worth Report)
Goats can clear about half an acre within 30 minutes of being left to graze, said city employee Chris Swindle. “Looking at hazardous areas with very little access — in a drought, it could cause fires — we thought about what we could try. Why not goats?” he said. After the pilot, Swindle and his team will evaluate the project and determine whether to use the goats in other natural areas around Fort Worth. (Cristian ArguetaSoto | Fort Worth Report)
Walter Llantas-Cruz sets up electric fencing in the city’s designated goat-grazing area. Years ago, the shepherd worked with sheep, now he specializes in goats. He will stay in a camper overnight watching the flock. The electric fencing keeps the goats grazing where they’re supposed to and prevents them from damaging neighboring properties. (Cristian ArguetaSoto | Fort Worth Report)

Most of the goats were born into this line of work, so they are familiar with electric fencing, Gosnell said. The job should be finished within two days, she said. 

“So far, we’ve had positive feedback from residents. In fact, they asked us to stay longer, so the kids can play with the goats,” Swindle said. “This is much faster than getting heavy equipment out here.”

Goat grazing offers cities an opportunity to be kinder to the environment while also beautifying the area. 

“Texans, you know, they want to hose everything with chemicals, but we’re going more green, and what better way to go green than with some goats,” Gosnell said.

Cristian ArguetaSoto is the community engagement journalist at the Fort Worth Report. Contact him by email or via Twitter. At the Fort Worth Report, news decisions are made independently of our board members and financial supporters. Read more about our editorial independence policy here.

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Cristian is a May 2021 graduate of Texas Christian University. At TCU, ArguetaSoto served as staff photographer at TCU360 and later as its visual editor, overseeing other photojournalists. A Fort Worth...