Lawn Care With Sheep

Keep your lawn care routine simple with some help from a flock of sheep.

  • Save time mowing and reduce fuel costs by using sheep to mow grass and weeds.
    Photo by Carolyn R. Tomlin
  • In addition to keeping your grass trimmed, sheep will aerate the soil with their hooves, and they're natural fertilizers.
    Photo by Carolyn R. Tomlin

When Bart Gilmer of Falcon Ridge Farm married his wife, Becky, his father-in-law not only gave his daughter away, but he also gave the couple a wedding gift of four sheep. With these four wooly animals, the young couple started a petting zoo as part of their farm events throughout the year.

The rural farm in Hardeman County, Tennessee, hosts birthday parties, Easter Egg Hunts, Fall Festivals, and other events throughout the year. Of course, these special occasions require only a small amount of time for the animals. And sheep need feeding whether they’re part of the entertainment or not. So while they’re off duty, the sheep earn their keep by keeping overgrown grass in check and clearing pasture land.

“I use sheep instead of goats to eat grass,” says Gilmer. “With sheep, it’s always four feet on the ground. Of course, they may reach up and nibble leaves, but mostly, they eat grass and low weeds. A goat will eat vines, the bark on a tree, and can clean up a kudzu patch. Goats provide a need, but the sheep will focus on clearing the grass.”

Winning winery

When Nancy and Kevin Corey moved to Tennessee and started Corey Ippolito Winery in Blountville, they decided to adapt a method of mowing grass seen in California. Why not let the sheep keep the grass contained in their vineyards and orchards?

“We allow the sheep to graze underneath the vines and between the rows,” says Nancy. “After trial and error of using the sheep as mowing machines, we have a better system of grass and weed control. After the harvest season, the sheep are turned into the fields for approximately two months. They eat the weeds and grass and remove leaves from plants they can reach.” When the lambing season arrives, the sheep are taken out of the fields. In rural areas, coyotes and neighborhood dogs pose a threat to the sheep. By using electric fencing, they keep the sheep in and predators out. The Corey’s sheep are also protected by Great Pyrenees dogs that stay in the field with the animals.

“There are many benefits to using sheep to mow grass and weeds,” says Nancy. “It reduces fuel costs and saves time from regular mowing. Sheep add fertilizer to the ground, which enriches the soil.” Always aware of making the planet a cleaner place to live, this practice cuts down on emissions that a mower puts out.

7/22/2019 7:49:34 AM

I've been using sheep for the past two years to mow our lawn and keep pastures neat and tidy. Our flock of mixed woolies and hair sheep has done an excellent job of weed control and grass management. I've found them to be much more efficient and have much less maintenance and care needs than goats, which I raised for years. We provide shelter, protection from predators with two LGD's, and proper fencing along with plenty of fresh water and loose mineral. The woolies are sheared once yearly, the whole flock gets feet trimmed and wormed as needed. While I still mow occasionally to keep our yards looking trim, I've been able to reduce mowing time by over 70%, saving on fuel and my time. Just take care with ornamental plants in the yard. Sheep love crape myrtle, wisteria, and other plants that you may prefer to keep. A good place to find unwanted sheep is from local high school agriculture programs at the end of the stock show seasons. There are usually a handful of families who have gotten attached to their show sheep, and simply can't load them onto the trucks at the end of the season. You can often buy these sheep for pennies on the dollar, or sometimes they're free just for the promise of a happy home.

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