Cold­water land­scaping company Munchers on Hooves has got one union’s goat.

Cold­water-based Munchers on Hooves uses goats as an alter­native for land­scaping. Wikimedia

The company, which uses goats to clear lots over­grown with invasive plants, drew crit­icism from the American Fed­er­ation of State, County and Municipal Employees local union earlier this July when it con­tracted business with Western Michigan Uni­versity in Kala­mazoo. Munchers has been stealing jobs from outdoor workers by employing undoc­u­mented goats, according to the union’s newsletter.

Munchers’ co-owner Gina Fickle said the goats are not taking work from workers; they’re making work safer for human laborers to follow in their place. Addi­tionally, she told The Col­legian her business has never stirred con­tro­versy before.

“This grievance wasn’t even filed against us. It was filed against the goats. We were never really approached or con­tacted about the goats being an issue,” she said. “We ended up finding out about it when my mom called us and told me she saw the story on Detroit Channel Four News.”

According to WMU Spokesperson Cheryl Roland, no WMU workers have been dis­placed by the goat project.

Roland told the Asso­ciated Press it would not be appro­priate for her to make any detailed comment because WMU has a process underway for addressing the grievance.

Project manager at WMU Nicholas Gooch told the Asso­ciated Press that the school is pleased with Munchers’ work. 

“We have been very happy with the progress, impact and PR gen­erated from this project from both the campus com­munity and the com­munity as a whole,” he said. “There have been no com­plaints of any nature prior to the news of this union ordeal.”

The union did not respond to request for comment.

Although the incident has given Munchers sig­nif­icant media cov­erage, Fickle told The Col­legian the grievance has not ham­pered her business’ future work. 

“We com­pleted our job on August 26 and we will be back at WMU next year,” she said.