July 11, 2013
Pet goats are becoming slightly more common in Charlottesville, three years after the city made them legal.
Laura Covert is raising two goats in her yard on East Market Street. She was one of the first people in Charlottesville to get goats after the ban was lifted in 2010.
"They really like having people around," Covert said. "They also don't really need people, which is kind of nice. So they're a nice blend of cat and dog."
Covert estimates that there are 14 goats in Charlottesville now, owned by about half a dozen families. The city does not keep a count of goats, because, unlike dogs, goats are not required to be licensed.
Covert says she expected her goats to provide more lawn care, but she has been pleasantly surprised with another benefit: milk. Her goats provide a couple gallons of milk a week.
"We make yogurt," Covert said. "A lot of yogurt. And some fresh goat cheeses like ricotta."
For those that don't want to own goats, a group called Goat Busters rents them.
Jace Goodling brings dozens of goats at a time. He says he has used the goats to clear everything from 20-acre farm estates, to small backyards.
"They'll eat everything from poison ivy to ailanthus," Goodling said. "This year mother nature has been our best job security. With all this rain and sunshine, the weeds are going nuts."
Goodling says about 25 percent of his customers live in cities. He gets occasional calls from people in Charlottesville wanting to clear a patch of their yard that has gone wild. He says it costs less than hiring people with heavy equipment to clear brush.
There are some restrictions for goat ownership in the city. The goats must weigh less than 100 pounds, they can't have horns, and no more than three goats can be kept on any one property.
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