News Release
August 13, 2013

Grazing Herd for Sustainable Vegetation Management Grazing Services Debuts at O'Hare International Airport



CHICAGO - The Chicago Department of Aviation (CDA) today debuted a grazing herd as part of a Sustainable Vegetation Management initiative at O’Hare International Airport.

The herd, consisting of 25 goats, sheep, llamas and burros, actually arrived at the airport in late July 2013 and began its work on up to 120 acres of land on four sites that have been identified for grazing on O’Hare property. All the sites are located in areas away from or separated from the airfield by security fencing. The sites include hilly areas along creeks or streams and roadway right-of ways that are overcrowded with dense scrub vegetation that’s difficult to maintain with traditional landscaping equipment.  The services will continue until weather no longer permits grazing and will resume in the summer and fall of 2014.

The contract for the herd to be used in the pilot program was awarded to Central Commissary Holdings, LLC, 1021 W. Armitage Ave., Chicago, IL.

The selection followed a Request for Quotation Invitation (RFQI) for Sustainable Vegetation Management Grazing Services that was issued on September 14, 2012. The RFQ sought at least 25 goats and/or sheep and a contractor/shepherd to participate in a vegetation management pilot program at O’Hare. Central Commissary Holdings, LLC, which cares for a small grazing herd outside the city, submitted the most competitive bid through the City’s Small Order Bid process. The contract expires at the end of 2014. The contract value will not exceed $19,500.

The RFQI stated that contractors whose herds contain grazing animals that were once rescued from inhumane treatment would be preferred. Central Commissary has partnered with Settler’s Pond, a shelter that specializes in the rescue of farm and exotic animals.

“On behalf of Mayor Rahm Emanuel, we’re thrilled to bring this unique program to O’Hare. This pilot initiative is another example of an aviation industry green initiative that also complements the City of Chicago’s commitment to sustainability at Chicago’s airports,” said CDA Commissioner Rosemarie S. Andolino. “The use of a grazing herd will provide economic, environmental and operational benefits for the airport and the community.”

Central Commissary is responsible for their care during the time they are on airport property. The contract stipulates that all animals must be treated with the upmost respect and dignity at all times. The goats and herder will remain supervised on airport property during the week and housed overnight in a transport trailer nearby during evening hours.

The economic benefits include:


  •  Decreased landscape maintenance costs.
  • A more efficient way of removing vegetation along steep embankments, and rocky and wooded areas that are  difficult to maintain with traditional mowing or spraying.
  • Elimination of overgrown areas helps to reduce habitat for wildlife that pose safety concerns for flight operations near the airport.
  • An alternative to toxic herbicides, and, in some cases, will eliminate the use of equipment that produce emissions.


Similar programs have been implemented successfully at Seattle, San Francisco, and Atlanta Airports.