These Goats Have a Super Power
Meet Keith Bridges and his goats — who have gone viral for the way they are saving our planet. Keith rents out his goats to properties, where they eat and destroy invasive plants that are harmful to the environment. For Keith, this was a chance for a more peaceful, quiet life after serving in the military.
“Being out there with them, and enjoying the stillness that they have, at times, has been great. Life can get pretty crazy, pretty hectic, but goats just want to eat and sleep.”
Keith Bridges: I thought that farming was the worst thing ever. And then eight and a half years in the military — realizing, “I don’t really want to hang out with people that much anymore.” I decided to come back to farming. I bought this property. It was really overgrown. We got goats to clear it up, because I knew they could do that. A company hired us to clean off a fence line, and I was like, “Yeah, I can do that. I’ve got some goats.” They weren’t really doing anything at that point. They were just hanging out here on my farm. And before you know it, I’m on the TV, got interviewed by a local news station, and my phone hasn’t stopped ringing since.
Producer Jonathan: Hey there.
Keith: When you use goats to clear land — obviously super low carbon input, just the fuel to get them set up and get them delivered, as opposed to running heavy equipment. They’re very gentle on the soil.
(Goats are fed, dog barks in the background)
Goats leave great fertilizer behind. Any seeds they consume are completely destroyed. So they’re not going to transfer any viable biomass from job to job. And so when you talk about any receding invasive plant, they’re killing it. Kudzu is one of our biggest invasives that we tackle. Kudzu covers 2.5 million acres in the US. It expands at a rate of 2,500 acres annually. It’s super invasive, super destructive. It’s deforesting the Southeast very quickly. It doesn’t provide any native benefit. Kudzu specifically was actually purposely imported by the US government. It was brought over for soil control, anti-erosion control, and cattle graze in the 1930s and ’40s. Fun fact: my grandfather actually got paid to plant it when he was in high school.
Producer Jonathan: Did he really?
Keith: All over Georgia and North Florida.
Producer Jonathan: That is so unfortunate. Oh, gosh.
Keith: Yeah. Goats are four-legged, all-terrain, kudzu munching machines. They eat 3-5% of their body weight daily. When the goats consume it, they break down the biomass in their gastrointestinal tract. Their body temperature is 102, so it breaks down all seed germ, kills it, and renders it completely inert before they pass it through. They can take this destructive plant and turn it into a positive fertilizer. Nature can heal nature.
I fell in love. That sense of being needed by the animals gave me a sense of purpose to get up in the day, even when I didn’t want to. Dealing with all of the trauma that I had from the military, kept me going. Being out there with them and enjoying the stillness that they have at times has been great. Life can get pretty crazy, pretty hectic, but goats just want to eat and sleep, man. And so that’s something to aspire to I think some days.
(Keith empties out feed bucket while goats follow along behind him)