Grazing Herd

Starting in 2013, the CDA hired a herd of goats and sheep to clear dense scrub vegetation on O’Hare property. The grazing sites include hilly areas along Willow-Higgins Creek that are difficult to maintain with traditional landscaping equipment.

All of the sites are located in areas away from or separated from the airfield by security fencing. To assist in the Sustainable Vegetation Management initiative at O'Hare, the grazing herd returned for the 2020 season with 55-145 animals including goats and sheep. Their grazing helps to eliminate habitat for birds and other wildlife that can pose safety hazards for the airport.

The initiative, originally conceived​ as a pilot program, just completed its seventh season grazing season. It is another example of an aviation industry-leading effort that highlights the CDA's commitment to sustainability. The 2020 herd has demobilized for the season and is expected to return for its eighth season in spring 2021.​

Benefits of the O'Hare Grazing Herd

The grazing program helps the CDA achieve many economic, operational and environmental benefits including:

  • Provides a more efficient way of removing vegetation along steep embankments and rocky areas that are difficult to maintain with traditional mowing or spraying
  • Reduces habitat for wildlife that may be hazardous to airport operations
  • Reduces the use of herbicides​
  • Reduces soil erosion from the use of heavy equipment​
  • Reduces air pollution from gasoline-powered equipment
  • Reduces landscaping waste sent to landfills and the air pollution from trucks hauling the waste
  • Clears poison ivy, poison oak and other noxious weeds and invasive species