Keep geese and sheep to cut your grass
If you are fed up of mowing the lawn, why not get a little help from our animal friends. A pair of geese will keep a large lawn cropped pretty short, and a couple of sheep will deal with a bigger area. You will also find that you have some friendly family pets into the bargain.
- Grass that grows!
- And more grass!
- Advantages in using geese and sheep to graze the grass
- And now the disadvantages
- Looking after geese
- Looking after sheep
- But don't sell your grass cutter just yet!
- What could be sweeter?
- Other articles from Les Trois Chenes
Grass that grows!
Limousin is a lush and lovely area of France. It is the bread-basket of the country and EVERYTHING grows here fast - including the grass. At Les Trois Chenes Bed and Breakfast we have a lawn in front of the main house, a grassy drive, a large play area for children with swings, and a huge lawned area behind our holiday home. All this grass needs to be cut and it is my job to push the lawn mower around it all. By the time I get to the end, the grass has grown at the begining again and it all has to be done by hand because we have lots of fruit trees in the garden. The perfect helpers for these areas are our lovable geese.
And more grass!
And that is not all. Being way out in the countryside, we have a septic tank which takes up quite a large area of our field and we can't put a tractor over this. The solution to keeping our meadow in good condition was to get two mini-sheep. How wonderful it is to look out at the sheep steadily eating away at all that grass!
Advantages in using geese and sheep to graze the grass
- They do the work and not you.
- They are cheap to buy. Our goslings cost 11 euros each and our sheep 50 euros.
- They are cheap to feed. All summer they eat grass! In winter they need supplements.
- They are green.
- They provide compost material for your flower and vegetables, eggs meat and wool.
- They are lovable pets and very picturesque.
And now the disadvantages
- Both the sheep and the geese can be noisy, so think about your neighbours.
- They will need medical care. If all goes well these will be modest.
- Sheep need good fences and must be kept away from trees.
- Both sheep and geese need shelter.
- You will need to set aside a little time to give food, water and a bit of care.
Looking after geese
Geese love the cold, the rain, the snow. Just look at ours sitting happily in the first snow they have ever seen. But they should be give shelter and shade during the day and they need a fox-proof shelter at night. They should be given clean staw every day, and will need to be cleaned out periodically.
Although they like water and would love to swim in a lake or pond, geese can manage perfectly well so long as they have enough clean water to immerse their heads. I give them a bucket of water at night as well as during the day.
In winter I feed mine maize and wheat. They also need sand and perhaps a supplement of crushed oyster shells.
Keep moving them to fresh ground and give each area a rest to avoid a build up of parasites.
At first sign of listnessness or illness, take them to the vets. I have lost geese because I hoped that they would 'pick up' until it was too late. All they needed was a course of antibiotics.
Protect your shrubs and climbers. Our geese chew the stems of the climbing plants and shrubs, so killing them eventually. They are quite good about flowers, but do tend to snip off their heads. Eventually they will trample the plants, so keep them away from the garden.
Looking after sheep
I chose this breed of sheep because of their small size and their hardy constitutions and I would strongly recommend them as pet lawn mowers. Ouessants originated in Brittany, northern France, and are a dwarf breed that stands 45cm high at the shoulder - they come up to your knees!
They graze poor pastures, are tought little nuts, and tend not to suffer from the various ailments that other breeds endure. They give birth easily and in general they take care of themselves.
They do need shelter from the rain and winds, they need a feed supplement and hay in winter, and you must innoculate them and worm them regularly. Check their feet and trim their hooves as necessary and you will have to have them shorn each spring. Go and have a chat with your vet before you buy them to make sure you can care for them.
Just a word or warning. The sheep will eat your flowers and shrubs. They will also strip the bark from shrubs and trees so these must be protected.
But don't sell your grass cutter just yet!
Unfortunately, neither the geese nor the sheep will eat all of your weeds, so you will find the grass neatly shorn but spotted with tall weeds that you will have to eradicate one way or another. Cultivate your lawns and get rid of your weeds either by using selective herbicides or by digging them out by hand. If you keep cutting them back they will gradually disappear, and you will have less and less work to do.
What could be sweeter?
Nothing is as cute as a newly hatched gosling or as adorable as a new-born lamb. The children will adore their new pets and you will soon grow to love your new lawn mowers. Think of all the effort and money you have saved and luxuriate in your new-found leisure time and enhanced 'green' status.
Get your livestock handbook for all you need to know to get you started: The Complete Book of Raising Livestock and Poultry, edited by Katie Thear and Dr Alistair Fraser. I find that all the basic information you need for keeping geese, sheep and other animals, is clearly and succinctly presented in this one handbook.
Have you tried Wikinut yet? Write about whatever you like and get paid royalties - http://www.wikinut.com/in/smim/
Other articles from Les Trois Chenes
Les Trois Chenes, a profile in pictures
Using Geese to Mow the Lawn More pictures and information from Les Trois Chenes.
Our pointer puppies
The puppy and the peach
Bee keeping for beginners
More about geese:
Gulliver Poultry Breeders of geese based in Norfolk, England. Good information about care of geese.