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janbb's avatar

What would be the economic and environmental impact of employing a sheep to "mow" a four acre lawn?

Asked by janbb (53594points) June 30th, 2010

Inquiring minds, i.e. my daughter-in-law, was speculating on effective ways to mow the acreage at the house they are renting. How would owning and using a sheep work? Expense vs. savings? Intake vs. – err, output? Any thoughts?

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18 Answers

josie's avatar

Sounds like a win/win to me.

jeffgoldblumsprivatefacilities's avatar

Ahh, I knew that Rangeland Grazing class would come in handy some day.

As far as expenses are concerned, I imagine that with a bit of searching, one could find a local rancher or (perhaps even better) a local kid in 4H with some sheep that would be happy to have a place to let them graze, with no cost at all to your daughter in law. In fact, it might be much easier to go that route, as opposed to owning and caring for sheep herself.

Environmentally, it is a great idea, but there are a few concerns. A) Sheep are voracious grazers. If left to their own devices, they could easily graze a four acre lawn to the point of no return. Careful attention would have to paid to how many sheep were allowed onto the lawn, and they would have to be moved around often in order to prevent them from grazing one “patch” down to the roots.
B) Sheep are often left to graze in areas that are considered unsuitable for other animals, such as cattle. These areas often have many weedy, invasive plant species. Seeds from these weedy species could easily be carried by the sheep onto your daughter in law’s lawn, and could become established. Once established, they could be very difficult and expensive to get rid of (and since she is renting the property, she could possibly incur some penalties from the property owner).

That being said, I think if the process was thought-out and handled properly, it could be a great plan.

Tropical_Willie's avatar

Goats work better because they don’t pull the roots of the grass out. They work cheap and will also enjoy raspberry and poison ivy.

stranger_in_a_strange_land's avatar

We have a 47 head flock and about 150 acres of pasture. The process of caring for a single sheep or goat may be too much for your daughter. @jeffgoldblumsprivatefacilities has the right ideas on this. Our flock grazes hilly ground that doesn’t grow anything much useful, they can destroy lawn-type grass if not rotated. A goat may be closer to what she needs, as they don’t graze so close.

jeffgoldblumsprivatefacilities's avatar

@Tropical_Willie True, but goats are more of a browsing species (meaning they prefer forbs and shrubs, as you pointed out with raspberry and poison ivy) than a grazing species (grass eaters). If the lawn in question is a traditional bluegrass lawn, than the goats may be more likely to chew on the ornamental flowers and bushes than the lawn.

Tropical_Willie's avatar

@jeffgoldblumsprivatefacilities

You mean like my neighbors shrubs, LOL….. Many times I would find my wayward flock at my neighbor’s favorite bushes.

janbb's avatar

@gailcalled Hmmh – kinda do give you second thoughts….

gailcalled's avatar

“Free, grumpy, mean and annoying.. needs work, It won’t eat weeds but will eat your shrubs and flowers, is anti-social, ...he does nothing but scream at you every time you go outside.”

”...keep in mind that I will not give him to someone just to make tacos out of..”

@janbb: He doesn’t sound irresistible to you?

YARNLADY's avatar

Google and Yahoo and here do it, why not the rest of us?

Trillian's avatar

I think they’re doing something like that at Pixar

janbb's avatar

@gailcalled He does sound like some people I know…....

mattbrowne's avatar

Burbs of methane versus carbon dioxide of lawn mowers. Unless it’s an electric lawn mower using a renewable source.

janbb's avatar

“Burbs of Methane” – Sounds like a post-apocalyptic John Cheever novel!

gailcalled's avatar

We still have folks here who keep sheep (for the wool) and for the clipping of their hillside. I do notice that their lawn is mowed, and their garden beds edged, weeded and mulched.

Sheep and goats need food, shelter and water and only do a rough cut. My neighbor had sheep for a while to attend to their hillside; after several years, the neighbor ran out of steam and turned them, horribly, into lamp chops and Irish stew.

janbb's avatar

Why “horribly” @gailcalled – did the “lamp chops” not shed any light?

gailcalled's avatar

Once I’ve seen a sheep and petted it, the though of leg of lamb is very upsetting to me.

mattbrowne's avatar

@janbb – Sorry, misspelled the word. I meant

Burps of methane versus carbon dioxide of lawn mowers.

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