Choose Eco-Friendly Mowing by Animals Over Gas Mowers

Gas mowers vs eco-friendly mowing by animals? The choice is easy. Goats and sheep are being rented out as natural, non-toxic alternatives to herbicides and gas-powered mowers.
By Tracy Gilsvik
February/March 2002
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Sheep grazing grass act like a natural mower.
PHOTO: TRACY GILSVIK
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Make taking care of your lawn easy: choose eco-friendly mowing by animals over gas mowers.

They manage brush and weeds while occasionally looking adorable.

Eco-friendly mowing by animals such as sheep and goats are an alternative to gas mowers and are being used for brush control all across the continent. Sheep keep grass and many weeds closely trimmed, while goats prefer shrubs and brush — even dining readily on poison ivy. In California's Angeles National Forest a herd of 6,000 sheep keep 13,000 acres of ridgetop firebreaks free from inflammable brush. In Alberta, Canada, the Ministry of Environmental Protection uses sheep to control brush in native elk habitat. Grazing sheep have cleared land under power lines in New Hampshire and maintain the Civil War battlefields of Virginia. In more commercial endeavors, goats and sheep are being rented out as natural, nontoxic alternatives to herbicides and gas-powered mowers. Using these creatures eliminates the use of toxic pesticides,. gasoline, and the manpower and machinery normally used to clear weeds and brush.

I decided to try using sheep and goats in my own back yard and learned the hard way that goats can be destructive to fruit trees and a challenge to contain with a fence. (Once, one of our goats even pushed open the back door and let himself into the house.) But now that we have proper fencing and shelter and have learned how to care for these creatures, we have few surprises. Our goats, Snapper and Toro, and the sheep, Thelma and Louise, have maintained our old pasture, which had been overgrown with willow, alder, poplar, raspberry bushes and other weeds. They eat everything but the alder. Now they get to come into the yard and do some more work there. Their job is to eat, and they're good at it. We rarely have to mow.








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