Business

Monday, Jun 10 2013 03:56 PM

Goats nibble away at weeds, an eco-friendly alternative for GET

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    By Felix Adamo / The Californian

    Javier Onaindia looks over his herd of goats at the Golden Empire Transit headquarters on Golden State Avenue as they chew away grass and brush. GET rented the more than 300 goats to clear away the brush in a nine-acre lot at the facility.

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    By Felix Adamo / The Californian

    The job of clearing out grass and brush at the Golden Empire Transit headquarters on Golden State Avenue, by these and approximately 300 other goats, is almost finished.

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    By Felix Adamo / The Californian

    With their job of clearing out grass and brush at the Golden Empire Transit headquarters almost finished, these goats rest in the shade of a water trailer on a nine-acre lot next to the GET facility.

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BY LAURA LIERA Californian staff writer lliera@bakersfield.com

She isn't like normal goats. She doesn't roam around with her herd all day. She prefers to socialize with humans and get rubbed and massaged. And once in a while nibble at clothes.

Her name is Panchita.

With a chiming bell around her neck, the one-and-a-half-year-old goat rubs her head against Javier Onaindia's hand, calling his attention to feed her more trail mix.

Panchita is the leader of 300 goats currently nibbling at brush and weeds next to Golden Empire Transit headquarters on Golden State Avenue. She and her herd will be in town until the end of the week.

"Panchita is the boss," Onaindia said with a laugh. He is the owner of J.O. Goat Co. and has brought his goats to Bakersfield for the past three years.

GET bus has used this eco-friendly alternative to brush thinning because it's better for the environment and it's also cheaper.

Gina Hayden, marketing and business development manager of GET, said the company purchased the lot next to the office and knew they would have to spray chemicals to keep the weeds from growing so tall and to prevent fire hazards.

That was the plan until they found out about Onaindia's goat company.

"They eat everything pretty much down to the dirt and for the past years, the weeds don't come in as tall any more because of them so it's a positive thing," Hayden said.

Panchita even tried to eat Hayden's pink floral skirt -- more than once.

Spraying the nine acres of land with weed killer would cost GET $5,000, but the goats only cost $1,000 for the time they are there.

Onaindia and his goats travel up and down California year round; he has about 800 goats. Although he has only been herding goats for three years, he has always been involved in working with animals.

"In Spain I used to herd sheep and do the same thing I do here but on a smaller scale," Onaindia said as he went after Panchita, who tried to escape from the area.

Another pack of 300 goats is now at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Foundation and Library in Ventura County. The pack in Bakersfield will move to Delano when finished.

"A lot of these counties that now call me prefer to clear their weeds the natural way and not spray chemicals that can harm a community's health," Onaindia said. "So if me and my goats can help the environment, we will keep going."

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