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David Lissner
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Chevre a la O’Hare? Partnership links city, restaurant and goats

A herd of dairy goats that provides milk for cheese to Lincoln Park's Butcher & The Burger now lives at the airport.

A herd of dairy goats that provides milk for cheese to Lincoln Park’s Butcher & The Burger now lives at the airport.

If you want to take a look at your dinner on the hoof, head out to O’Hare, where a herd of goats belonging to Central Commissary Holdings, owners of Butcher & The Burger in Lincoln Park, is munching on grass around the airport grounds.

The 25 goats, plus sheep, llamas and burros are part of a vegetation management pilot program at O’Hare. Under a two-year contract, the city will pay up to $19,400 for the animals to graze on 120 acres under the supervision of Central Commissary’s goatherd. At night, the herder and animals will sleep in a trailer nearby, according to a city statement.

The grazing areas, which are distant from runways or fenced off from the airfield, include hilly and scrubby spots difficult to mow with machinery. The city says the animals will lower landscaping costs, reduce the need to spray toxic herbicides and help keep away birds who might get caught in airplane engines. The larger animals help to protect the sheep and goats from coyotes.

There’s no public viewing area, but if you drive around the airport, you might catch a glimpse.

Central Commissary gets the animals through Settler’s Pond, a shelter that specializes in the rescue of farm and exotic animals. The goats and sheep aren’t actually on the menu at Butcher & Burger, where Chef Allen Sternweiler serves beef, pork, bison, turkey and seafood, with sometime specials of elk, ostrich and venison, but not goat or lamb; the parent company maintains the herd for milking and cheesemaking purposes.