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 2019 season with 30-50 animals including sheep and goats. 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 sixth season grazing season. It is another example of an aviation industry-leading effort that highlights the CDA's commitment to sustainability. The 2019 herd has demobilized for the season and is expected to return for their seventh season in early summer 2020.

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
  • Provides an alternative to toxic herbicides
  • Reduces the use of heavy equipment, minimizing soil erosion
  • Reduces the use of lawnmowers, trimmers and weed-eaters that emit carbon dioxide and other pollutants
  • Eliminates mowing/landscape debris and transportation of debris to landfills
  • Clears poison ivy, poison oak and other noxious weeds and invasive species