Sheep offer a cost-effective alternative to mechanized or human mowers for the landowner. Mowing one acre requires two to five gallons of gasoline. Hiring a lawn cut would cost $40-$60 per week, and, sometimes, lawns need to be cut twice a week. That is as much as $120 per week per acre. Here in Ohio, grass begins growing in March and grows until the middle of October. That adds up to about 28 weeks of grass cutting over the whole season. In spring and fall, the grass needs to be cut twice per week, and during dry seasons, only every week and a half. A reasonable average would be about 32 cuttings required to maintain an acre. This can add up to over $1,900 per acre per year.
The benefits of using natural lawn mowers go beyond saved time and money. An acre of lawn can provide 600 pounds of grass forage. This is enough forage to produce about 160 pounds of lamb meat and several pounds of wool. In addition, 200 animal days of grazing creates 600 pounds of manure containing ten pounds of nitrogen and eight pounds of phosphate that are readily available for plant growth. This would be similar to the amount of fertilizer recommended for a spring treatment for the average lawn care. According to Consumer Reports, small, two-stroke engines used in conventional lawn-care equipment are big polluters. Mowing a lawn one hour per week for a summer consumes only 10 gallons of gas, but releases an average of 148 pounds of CO2 emissions per year. Furthermore, one hour on an average riding mower emits roughly the same amount of NO2, one of the key ingredients in smog, as driving a very clean new car for 75,000 miles.
Studies show that sheep mowing reduces pollution, maintenance, use of herbicides, and gas and oil requirements. Sheep fertilize while they graze and produce lean, healthy, local food and wool products. Sheep are a great interim solution for vacant city lots. Sheep can operate in conditions, like steep terrains along power lines, that men and machines cannot easily access. Sheep do not compact the soil or disturb the indigenous species. They provide holistic land management and brush and weed control through grazing. Sheep can eliminate thistle, brush, noxious weeds, and other invasive plants and restore native grasses. They are low- maintenance and very entertaining to the public. As a result, property owners are beginning to use sheep to mow lawns. The White House lawn once had sheep grazing during President Woodrow Wilson's administration to save on groundskeeping. In fact, our modern idea of lawns was born from images of European estates that were maintained by sheep. With budget challenges and fuel prices rising, this is an idea whose time has come back.