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Goats Clear Invasive Vegetation for Ameren Illinois

Downstate utility Ameren Illinois recently experimented with using goats as an environmental-friendly way to remove invasive vegetation in a difficult-to-reach right-of-way in southern Illinois. The area is covered with dense vegetation that must be removed to give line workers a clear line of sight necessary for routine inspections, maintenance and accessibility during outages to the power lines and poles that traverse the property.

Tree trimmers with chainsaws could be called in to clear the area, but much of the terrain is in a ravine, making walking conditions difficult and even treacherous for humans. After deciding that goats were the most sure-footed crew to remove the vegetation, the job of 50 animals along a steep and rocky plot of land in Hillview, supplied by Litchfield-based Goats on the Go, was to dine on a high-protein diet of honeysuckle, poison ivy and other dense brush. The goats were able to remove approximately an acre’s worth of vegetation each week.

At the end of the four-week pilot, Ameren Illinois management was impressed by the goats’ ability to efficiently clear brush in such hard-to-reach areas. The company is now exploring a broader deployment of goats for vegetation management in 2020 and beyond.

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