AA goats for Atlanta Jewish Times

One of 30 goats working at Ahavath Achim Synagogue chows down.

By David R. Cohen | david@atljewishtimes.com

People visiting Ahavath Achim Synagogue between May 4 and 8 were greeted by an uncommon sight.

Thirty rented goats from Georgia-based GetYourGoatRentals.com were brought in to clear out several acres of poison ivy, briars and underbrush on AA’s Buckhead property. A temporary enclosure kept the goats from getting out, and a herding dog kept the goats in line.

Goats and sheep have been used increasingly in recent years to clear unwanted brush in lieu of more expensive methods. AA Director of Communications Stephanie Stone also said that the practice is more environmentally friendly.

“We are very committed to being environmentally friendly in all of our endeavors,” she said. “Goats can come in here and clear out all of the underbrush and overgrowth without using any harsh chemicals or large equipment that damages the landscape. In addition to that, some of the areas that the goats are in are very steep, so putting men in there would be a little bit dangerous.”

Stone said the congregation chose goats over sheep because goats eat greenery such as poison ivy and briars that sheep don’t.

The Marist School hired a flock of sheep and three herding dogs at the same time AA rented the goats to clear out kudzu on its Brookhaven campus. Sheep also have been used recently to clear kudzu and other unwanted plants from Buckhead, Perkerson and Grant parks.

During their time at AA, the 30 goats ate more than 300 pounds of brush and ivy. Many congregants stopped by to see the goats in action.

“This is just their natural way of life,” Stone said. “When they’re not sleeping, they’re eating. Watching the goats I found that to be the case. They will lay down and sleep for a little while, then get up and start eating anything that’s green.”

She said the goats exceeded expectations. Now that the area southeast of the AA building is clear of unwanted overgrowth, Stone said the congregation plans to keep it natural.

“We couldn’t be more pleased,” said Manuel Mesa, Ahavath Achim’s executive director. “This is, by far, the cleanest, safest, most efficient and most cost-effective method to clear overgrown spaces.”