For Immediate Release: May 19, 2020

SMUD hires hungry goats to help with fire risk

SMUD found a new ally in its fire risk reduction efforts – goats. For the first time, SMUD has contracted with a company to supply nearly 400 goats that are quickly and efficiently reducing vegetation along its transmission line corridors in Sacramento County

 “These goats provide us with a safe and environmentally sustainable service, while also reducing costs and improving safety in the community,” said SMUD’s Chief Energy Delivery Officer Frankie McDermott. “This helps to ensure that we maintain safe and reliable power for our community.”  

As part of SMUD’s ongoing maintenance (vegetation management work), the goats will move around SMUD’s service territory to reduce vegetation, create fuel breaks and mitigate potential fire risk. SMUD’s territory is mainly urban and considered lower risk, however, it does have transmission lines through open space and rural areas that require weed abatement.

Goats have four stomachs, which makes it easy for them to consume and digest tough roughage, and they can devour brush in hard-to-reach terrain.

These goats can consume 2-3 acres of vegetation a day before they are moved to a new location. SMUD expects to explore making this an annual complement that improves community safety and applies cost controls in an environmentally sustainable way.

The goats are carefully guarded by two Anatolian Shepherds named Heidi and Ricki. According to the goat’s owners, Capra Environmental Services Corp., benefits of using goats for vegetation management include:

  • preserving the integrity of the land and wildlife on it, 
  • reducing the use of herbicides,
  • natural fertilization of land,
  • reducing safety risk from humans and machines having to reach dangerous terrain, and
  • community enjoyment.

To learn more about SMUD’s wildfire mitigation plan, visit

About SMUD

As the nation’s sixth-largest community-owned electric service provider, SMUD has been providing low-cost, reliable electricity for almost 75 years to Sacramento County (and small adjoining portions of Placer and Yolo Counties). SMUD is a recognized industry leader and award winner for its innovative energy efficiency programs, renewable power technologies, and for its sustainable solutions for a healthier environment. SMUD’s energy is about 50 percent carbon-free and is on track to deliver 100 percent net-zero carbon electricity by 2040, ahead of California’s 2045 goal.