Grazing Herd

Since 2013, a herd of goats and other grazing animals has maintained dense scrub vegetation on O'Hare property. The grazing sites are in areas outside the airfield fence and include hilly areas along Willow-Higgins Creek that are difficult to maintain with traditional landscaping equipment. The grazing reduces habitat for wildlife that can pose safety hazards to airport operations. Additionally, O'Hare's grazing herd clears weeds and invasive species while reducing the use of herbicides and reducing air pollution from gasoline-powered equipment. The initiative, originally conceived as a pilot program, is another example of an aviation industry-leading effort that highlights the CDA's commitment to sustainability.

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
  • Reduces habitat for wildlife that may be hazardous to airport operations
  • Reduces soil erosion and rutting 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 weeds and invasive species without the use of herbicides
  • Allows for research studies by the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Wildlife Services program regarding the grazing herd vegetation removal effectiveness and documenting the wildlife changes from the use of the grazing