Since sheep eat grass and your lawn is always in need of mowing, could you combine the two and have sheep mow your lawn for you?
Sheep can mow lawns as long as you have an adequate fence, sectioned off plants you do not want the sheep to eat, a way to water them and some sort of shelter for them. You will still need to do some trimming.
Sheep can mow your lawn
Sheep can be used to mow your lawn. Sheep will not eat the grass as uniformly as a lawn mower would cut it, but the sheep will definitely nip it down for you.
What Is The Best Animal To Eat Extra Grass? is one of my articles that gives you a list of grass eaters so you can choose the best fit for your situation. For many folk the best option is sheep, for others it isn’t.
If you want your lawn to look it’s best, you’ll need to move the sheep off of a section of grass once they have eaten it or heavy use spots will start to show in your grass.
Places like under the shade tree or by the water trough will get tons of hoof traffic. If you keep the sheep in the same lawn all summer, those spots will start to pack down and not grow grass as well.
Our sheep enjoy eating lawn grass, so we move them through the lawn every few weeks on their way to other parts of the farm.
If you want to see sheep lawn mowers in action, check out Lambmowers.com, a company in Virginia that mows yards with Babydoll Southdown sheep.
You will still need to trim
You will still need to trim spots in your yard, since the sheep will not be as precise as a mower and string trimmer. If you normally don’t worry too much about trimming, then the sheep alone will do a fine job.
There will be manure
If you decide to use sheep to mow your yard, plan on there being manure from the flock.
Sheep manure tends to be in pellets that are barley noticeable since they seem to hide in the grass but when the grass is lush, the manure can be more of a plop.
On the plus side, sheep manure tends to be used by the grass quickly. As long as there is enough moisture in ground that the soil is active, the manure will start to be used as fertilizer right away.
Sheep may eat your landscaping
There are a few cautions you should know about before putting sheep in your lawn, one of which is that the sheep will taste test anything that they can reach. This includes trees, shrubs and flowers.
If you do not want the sheep to touch something in your lawn, you need to have it fenced off so that the sheep can not get to it or reach over the fence and get to anything either!
Most of the time, the sheep will focus on the grass first, then once they have eaten a good amount of grass, and you have gone inside to get a drink, they will taste test the shrubs and flowers.
You can handle this by keeping them in your yard for a short period of time or watching them graze and making sure they do not take an interest in your favorite landscaping plants.
You should know that once a ewe decides to eat something and the rest of the flock catches on they will zoom over and your special plant will be gone in no time.
Chances are you will not be able to keep them off of it, you would have to have it fenced off to begin with rather than trying to deter them once they decide to nibble it down to nothing.
Will Sheep Eat Fruit Trees? goes over our experience with the sheep in the yard around the apple and pear trees.
Anther important thing to remember is that the sheep will eat smaller, more tender things but may ignore or rub on larger things, like trees.
For example, a large shade tree will probably be left alone by the sheep, but a young fruit tree that you just planted this spring will be quite the treat for the flock once they find it!
Our daughter has a flock of 10 ewes that they graze most of their yard with. They use electric netting to keep the sheep out of the garden or any landscaped areas.
There is trimming a bit of to be done once the sheep leave an area, but for the most part sheep grazed lawn sections look great and make for much less mowing, not to mention a nice bite to eat for the ewes!
What if you have other animals in your yard?
If you have other animals in your yard, the sheep can still graze off your lawn as long as:
- the sheep feel safe (no dogs, yours or the neighbor’s)
- other feed sources are removed
- the sheep have clean water
Remove other animal feeds
For example, if you have chickens in your yard and you want to have sheep mow your lawn, you’ll need to put the chicken feed somewhere that the sheep can not reach it and close up the access to the coop.
If the other animals in your yard are something like rabbits in a cage, then make sure the sheep can not get to the feed but otherwise things should be fine for the sheep.
Pay attention to how your rabbits take the sheep “invasion”. If the rabbits are stressed, pen off the area with their cages or put up a partial barrier to block the rabbit’s view.
Sheep need clean water
If your other animals are waterfowl, now you will probably have a water issue, in addition to the feed. Ducks and other waterfowl make a mess of water, which is fine for them but a problem for the sheep.
You will need to make sure the sheep have clean water that the ducks can not get into. If you can, pen up the ducks or plan to dump the water trough frequently, since ducks poop when they swim.
Getting ready for the sheep mowers
To be ready for the sheep to mow your lawn, you’ll need to have a few things in place.
First off, you’ll need fence. If you have a physical fence that keeps in your dog, chances are pretty good that it will hold your sheep, as well. Of course, you could always go with a portable electric fence, as well.
For electric, you’ll probably want electric netting, which will require a few rolls of netting as well as a charger, which can be plug in, battery or solar.
Your sheep mowers will also need water. Sheep need a low trough, something like the height of a plastic kids pool to drink out of.
They can drink out of a bucket, but chances are good that it will be spilled. Go with a trough of some sort, instead. You can find them at local supply stores or use a smaller kiddie pool.
The sheep will need a salt block, the white kind. The white salt is just salt, the other blocks are mixed with things that sheep may not be able to eat, so go with the white one.
And finally, the sheep will need some shade or shelter. It does not need to be a building, but it does need to be a spot where they can all fit into at will.
The shelter can be the edge of the woods or a big tree or roof overhang to stand under, just something to keep off the direct sun when it’ hot out and to give them some shelter from the wind and rain.
Keep your dog away from the sheep
You will also need to keep your dog away from the sheep.
Dogs naturally scare sheep. Even if the dog does not mean to bother the sheep or intend to harass them, the sheep are still scared, so it’s best to keep your dog out of the yard when the sheep are in it.
What will the sheep eat when the lawn is not growing?
If you are thinking about keeping some sheep year round, what will the sheep eat when your lawn is not growing?
How Much Does It Cost To Feed A Sheep? is an article that I wrote to show you how to find the hay prices for your area.
Take some time to think about how often and for what months you normally mow your lawn. Around here early April is too soon , but most folks would definitely be mowing by mid to late April.
Then on the other end of the season, most folks around here mow for the last time in November. This means from mid April to mid November you have 7 months of grass.
This is great if you are growing out some lambs for the freezer, which is a wonderful use of your grass and a nice way to ease into sheep if you are on the fence about getting some or not.
If you are planning on keeping the flock all year, what will they eat for the other 5 months when you normally do not mow?
Anyone who has sheep needs to answer this question and if other folks in your area can work it out, so can you, but it’s important to think about the entire year when you are putting together your overall plan.
Feeding sheep through the winter is a substantial additional cost that must be factored into your budget.
It may be easy to see your bill for the local lawn service and think, “hey, why do I keep paying for this service when sheep would eat this for free?”
Good question, I’m just making sure that you consider all of the costs, not just the lack of a mowing fee or one less weekend job for you to get done.