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Old Posted: 22-04-2009 , 01:22 PM #1
cianer
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Default Using sheep to trim the lawn?

My wife & I moved into a fixxer-upper house on 1/2 an acre 4 years ago and have spent all our time sorting the house out with the result that most of the garden is now a wilderness. We've managed to cut the grass once or twice a year so there's no trees or bushes, but the grass is mixed in with various weeds and is pretty high and hard to cut.

We were thinking of getting a sheep to keep it down but are both city slickers and know nothing about care of sheep. Anyone got any suggestions? The plan was to leave the sheep have free roam of the garden (which is fenced) and wait for it to trim down the grass. Searching on the internet there are lots of suggestions for buying a lamb in spring and sticking it in the freezer come autumn, but we are vegetarian so that's not really an option unless we feed it to the dogs. Long term my wife has plans for the garden that involve lots of bushes & wildflowers and not too much grass so when that comes to fruition a small lawnmower will do us.

Can anyone give me suggestions/tips on whether this is a good idea or not, and preferably give me input on what kind of care & attention a sheep needs in the winter. Thanks!
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Old Posted: 22-04-2009 , 06:46 PM #2
smudge
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Hi, We kind of had the same problem until we got goats, we have three pucks they are very sweet and they have munched their way through our weeds, If you get a female you have the bonus of milk as well. We did think about lambs the same as yourself but we couldnt bring ourselves to eat them. Hope this helps and if you need any advice give me a shout :)
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Old Posted: 22-04-2009 , 07:27 PM #3
paprika
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Hi cianer,

I've read it too, that sheep is good for keeping the grass down. And if you look at any fields with sheep you can see it's right. We were thinking about it too when we moved into our cottage three years ago, but at the end we opted for goats. Goats are fine for keeping down the grass too, the only problem is they are rather browsers than grazers, so they prefer the trees and bushes (and flowers in windowboxes, the compost from windowboxes, the drying clothes...) to anything on ground level. They eat a mouthful here and there from the grass and weeds, while sheep start at one point and they keep eating so you'll end up with a nice even lawn which is fertilized as well with the output.
We managed to have the same effect with the goats only when tied them up, but I'm not sure that was really good for them. And they jumped REALLY high... unfortunately over the fence to the neighbour's freshly planted hedge. Munch, munch...
Not sure about care for sheep, but as usually they are out on field all weather I would imagine they need only some supplementary feeding with feed nuts and the trimming once a year. But any shepp farmers in your area could give you plenty of advice.

Good luck and regards,
p
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Old Posted: 23-04-2009 , 10:32 PM #4
Andrea88
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yeah thats all well and good getting a sheep to eat your grass but who u gonna get to get rid of all their poop lol,plus you cant just have one cos they'll get lonely (unless you make a pet of it and treat it like a baby!!) so u'll have to get two.and then if they're gonna be on ur front lawn all u'll hear till (if) you get to sleep is baaahhh baaahhhh till the cows come home hee hee. i dunno,theres pros and cons to everything in life! good luck tho it be good to see what u end up doing xxx
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Old Posted: 23-04-2009 , 10:54 PM #5
angling mad
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Default using sheep to trim the grass

Hi, I bought a house in the country three years ago. The first couple of months was a nightmare cutting an acre of grass as we are not down in the house every week. We spoke to the local sheep farmer and asked him to let the sheep into our garden whenever he liked and as a result everytime we go down now its a maintenance free garden thanks to the sheep. The only draw back is you can't have flowers because they particularly like them. However i would recommend the sheep. oh if only i could have them in my garden in Dublin!!!

Best of luck,
Angling mad
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Old Posted: 24-04-2009 , 08:39 AM #6
cianer
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@Angling Mad: My garden is in Dublin, albeit as rural as Dublin gets, so local sheep farmers aren't an option. =) I agree with you though, "borrowing" someone else's sheep would be the beautiful solution.

@Andrea88: Yeah I had read about them getting lonely so had planned to get two. I have 1/2 acre so after you knock off a bit for the house & surrounding garden the sheep would probably be on 1/3 acre. Is that big enough for two sheep?

@Paprika & Smudge: Can you give me the reasons why you opted for goats instead of sheep? On paper it seems like sheep are the easier option...

Thanks guys!
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Old Posted: 24-04-2009 , 08:56 AM #7
Bizzybee
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As a sheep farmer I was intrigued by your query and felt I should reply - while it might seem like an ideal solution for the grass - sheep are not quite as maintanence free as you might think...they can suffer from foot problems, various sorts of internal parasites and in hot weather fly-strike. However I don't want to put you off -with some further information you could deal with all these issues...lambs would be an easier option than older sheep but you would need to be prepared to part with them in the autumn as keeping them long-term would add extra considerations such as housing, shearing, tagging, flock no, etc.
Hope thats been helpful feel free to pm if you need more info. :)
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Old Posted: 24-04-2009 , 09:40 AM #8
cianer
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Hey Bissybee, that's brilliant thanks! I'm expecting to have to give them annual checkups/hoof trims/whatever so haven't got my head in the sand in that regard. This is pretty much a fact-finding mission so to speak so eager for any advice anyone has.

Have sent you a PM. Cheers.
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Old Posted: 24-04-2009 , 10:22 AM #9
Ruthy
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Default sheep

This is probably more of a question for bizzybee, I also have the same problem, bought a cottage with an acre, about half was left wild when i got there and hasn't been cut in about 5 years. Its really wild and tough (apparently my predecessor stripped off the grass and left it to self seed), I would like to try a wild flower meadow to cut about twice a year, but need to get it down first as the wildsflowers wouldn't have a chance of taking hold against the existing grass.

So, do sheep (or goats) eat that kind of tough hummocky grass that hasn't been cut for ages (I thought they liked fresh growth). If they do, how much do they need? I know its about a acre per cow, how about sheep? I wouldn't necessarily have to get sheep, there are sheep locally being farmed and could probably get them let in if suitable.

Ruth
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Old Posted: 24-04-2009 , 02:34 PM #10
collitjo
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Default Sheep

Hi.

It's an acre per cow which includes the provision of winter fodder such as hay or silage. In your case you would not be saving hay or silage so you could keep approx 50% extra.
From what I recall a sheep is 0.25 livestock units whilst a cow is 1.0.
Therefore for summer grazing alone an acre of fertilized land can accomodate approx 6 sheep. Unfertilized would probably mean 3 to 4 per acre.

With regard to their droppings, they will be absorbed by the soil as nature intended.

Best of luck
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Old Posted: 24-04-2009 , 02:54 PM #11
cianer
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Quote:
Originally Posted by collitjo
Therefore for summer grazing alone an acre of fertilized land can accomodate approx 6 sheep. Unfertilized would probably mean 3 to 4 per acre.

Ok, for the idiot city-slicker would a garden left to its own devices for 3 years be regarded as unfertilized, yeah? Grass seems fairly lush to the untrained eye, weeds definitely are!

Quote:
Originally Posted by collitjo
With regard to their droppings, they will be absorbed by the soil as nature intended.

Sweet, I was kinda assuming they would eventually but didn't want to seem like an idiot!
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Old Posted: 24-04-2009 , 03:27 PM #12
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Hi Ruthie, think Collitjo has probably answered your question - you could always ask one of your local farmers - they will know the area best and whether it suitable for sheep/goats :)

Re the sheep poo - there was someone in Wales making paper from sheep poo so that could be an alternative enterprise for whoever has the patience!

Details here:
http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/uk_news/w...st/5315904.stm
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Old Posted: 24-04-2009 , 04:52 PM #13
Ruthy
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Default sheep

Brilliant, thanks. Next time the sheep invade will leave them at it (they're fond of wriggling out through their hedge in search of other pastures and have created a number of escape hatches along the laneway).

Sheep poo paper!! I'd heard of elephant poo stationery, but not sheep poo paper!

Ruthy
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Old Posted: 25-04-2009 , 11:12 AM #14
smudge
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Default hello

Hi,
I got goats instead of sheep for the milk, its great for asthma and ezcema, would recommend it if there are any asthmatics in the family :)
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Old Posted: 25-04-2009 , 03:09 PM #15
paprika
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We got the goat for the milk too, and my husband said sheep are boring. Alas, goats are TOO exciting... She got depressed after a few month so we got a pair for her. They are lovely and folow you around like dogs. And when she has lots of milk I make yogurt, too.
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