Chicago's bustling O'Hare airport has hired a new crew to keep the grass cut - a herd of goats, sheep, donkeys and llamas. The llamas help protect the sheep and miniature goats from coyotes that roam the woods near one of the world's busiest airports. The donkeys are also big and aggressive enough to keep predators away. And the entire herd help keep the grass short and clear of critters that can interfere with or endanger airport operations. Long grass is not just messy, airport officials explained as they unveiled the new crew on Tuesday. It is also a breeding ground for the small rodents that attract hawks and other birds of prey. "Birds and planes don't mix," said Rosemarie Andolino, commissioner of Chicago's airport authority. Chicago used to rely on herbicides and motorised lawnmowers to maintain the nearly 3,200 hectares of land surrounding O'Hare. But the rocky and hilly areas far from the tarmac were tough to mow and could damage the city's expensive equipment. And despite endless hours of hot, sweaty landscaping work, the airport's wildlife relocation team was constantly on the hunt for errant animals. So the Windy City decided to follow the lead of airports in Seattle, San Francisco and Atlanta and try an old-fashioned approach. Airport officials have identified about 49 hectares in four fenced-in sites that are choked with the kinds of grasses and weeds that can keep the herd of 14 goats, six sheep, two llamas and three donkeys munching for months. The animals cannot be allowed anywhere near the tarmac and the busy roads surrounding the airport. The animals don't seem bothered by the roar of the aircraft, said Pinky Janota of the Settlers Pond animal shelter. "We had a little lamb born this morning," she said. "He's doing great, suckling on mum with planes going overhead. He didn't flinch." Staff named him O'Hare.