In France, the Paris City Hall recently installed a small flock of sheep to keep its garden’s lawns mowed. This sounds like a win-win situation to me! I think the sheep would agree. A Paris farm director by the name of Marcel Collet describes the benefits (Thomas Adamson “Paris Hires Sheep as Lawnmowers” The Kansas City Star, 4/7/13, p. A26):
“It might sound funny, but animal lawnmowers are ecological, as no gasoline is required, and cost half the price of a machine. . . . And they’re so cute.”
Livestock-lawnmowing companies in France include Ecoterra and Ecomouton. The idea seems to be catching on here in the US too. For example, check out a post on the Legal Ruralism blog:
“Carlisle Area School District in Pennsylvania is using sheep to trim some of its grass and will be saving $15,000 in the process. The school district will not have to pay someone to maintain a lawn area around a collection of solar panels the district owns. According to Dan Ludwig, a grazing specialist from the U.S. Department of Agriculture who commented on the school district’s plan, leasing sheep to graze on public and private land is becoming increasingly popular.”
In addition to cited benefits, people tend to appreciate the relative quiet of the sheep compared to a conventional lawnmower. To those who might object to the animal droppings, it turns out goat and sheep feces tend to degrade quickly into an odorless powder, which then helps fertilize the lawn.
Sometimes the more modern we become, the better some of our old-time resources work. It will be interesting to see how much this business idea expands, or whether it remains more of an individualized small-scale situation.