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NW Life | Animals | Land | local | Oregon Field Guide Summer Series

Shepherdess Briana Murphy Takes On Portland Foliage


In 2012, Briana Murphy was bored with her job and looking for a more engaging way to make a living. That’s when she met a woman who was just about to retire from the business of applying brush-eating goats to difficult landscaping tasks.

Before she knew it, the woman had left town and Murphy found herself with a herd of goats and a stack of pending job contracts. That first year, the learning curve was really steep,” Murphy recalls. “Actually, it was kind of a disaster.

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Murphy trimmed the herd from 60 to 40 goats and, over the years, has developed a thriving business. With her pickup truck, she transports her bearded lawnmowers from the idyllic vineyards of the Willamette Valley to the urban jungles of industrial Portland. The nimble-lipped goats can handle the toughest landscape tasks—from eating around pokey sprinkler heads to digesting noxious poison oak—without batting an eye.

The nimble-lipped goats can handle the toughest landscape tasks—from eating around pokey sprinkler heads to digesting noxious poison oak—without batting an eye.

Goats are also cost-effective landscapers, willing to work long hours and with less complaint (and lower feeding costs) than a human hand crew. Murphy’s goats can clear about 150 pounds of foliage a day.

“You also don’t have to pay disposal fees because they turn it into fertilizer and leave it for you,” says Murphy.

“No extra charge.”

goats Oregon Field Guide summer

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