ALL AREAS: How We Use Sheep for Weed Control

by Meg
(Bullsbrook, WA, Australia)

Sheep Lawnmowers

Sheep Lawnmowers

Using sheep for weed control can only be successful, the way we do it, if:

1. They respect electric fence tape and are used to it.
2. They are reasonably quiet with nothing much to scare them around.

I feed them a little lupins or wheat over autumn when feed is scarce. Now, whenever I call them up, they come running and will follow me anywhere, which makes management pretty easy.

We use electric fencing tape and tread-in insulated pickets a lot on our little farm of 5 acres in Bullsbrook Western Australia, to create temporary paddocks for our sheep. We have between 5 and 8 sheep at any one time, depending on the number of babies, and they are mostly White Dorper with a bit of Damara thrown in. They are pretty quiet. We only ever have issues with rams, but the one we have at the moment respects our hot fencing which is a blessing.

The fence you see in the picture is not even turned on! They see the white tape and stay where they should. I can even graze them amongst trees and shrubs they like to eat, simply by draping the uncharged hot tape around the trees with or without the white pickets.

This flexibility saves us a lot of work slashing and mowing weeds, and we get nice fat sheep out of it!

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Aug 12, 2014
Sheep and trees
by: Tony

We have had merino and Suffolk sheep. They all like trees, especially citrus. If they have plenty of feed, they don't strip the trees, but if they are hungry, they will strip bark as well. In general, we keep the sheep away from our fruit trees, regardless of how much feed is available.

We also tried electric fencing but the lambs walked under it and mothers followed. They jumped a bit when they were zapped, but were able to time it (somehow) and mostly did not get zapped if they went thru fast.

We are back to wire fences now.

Apr 01, 2012
sheep for weed control
by: Cristina

Our sheep do. When I started to let them graze free I was excited to see they were so busy eating weeds they enjoy that they didn't bother the trees. After a while, once they got to know everything they had to choose from they started eating all our citrus leaves and some ground cover and shrubs as well. They keep me very busy, for sure. I appreciate your comment about the electric fence and white tape. I will definitely try it!
I have a mix of Barbado and wool sheep. The problem with the Barbado Ram is that he has horns and he rubs them against the trees, hurting the small ones.
Rams are usually aggressive so although is fun to call all the sheep to take them back to the corral, I always have to be extra careful with the Ram.

Aug 25, 2011
Do they go for fruit trees?
by: Shreesh

I am told that, unlike goats, sheep will not try to browse on the fruit trees in your orchard, instead will focus on the weeds and grass.

Is this true? Do they also not eat small tree saplings ... say a year or two old?

BTW, in India, I see nomads using a contraption made of wooden sticks and some yarn to fence the sheep in. I never asked them how well it works ... will do so, the next time I see one :)


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