Herbruck’s Poultry Ranch utilizing new four-legged, fluffy lawnmowers

Ionia County

BOSTON TOWNSHIP, Mich. (WOOD) — There is a new piece of technology at Herbruck’s Poultry Ranch being implemented to maintain vegetation at the Green Meadow Organics facility. It’s a grass-cutting tool that doesn’t require gasoline or oil changes: sheep. 

“Sheep naturally like to eat this grass and it looks really nice to have the farm and use other species to come in and actually eat the grass that they’re supposed to be doing,” said Joe Sullivan, director of pullet operations at Herbruck’s.

The idea to bring on the sheep came after a 2-acre solar array was put in at the Green Meadow facility. Staff realized it might be difficult to have a lawn mowing service come in due to the tedious nature of mowing around and under each of the panels. 

“We were looking at different species that would be functional. Goats would jump up on the panels and cows and horses — probably a little too big and could do some damage. Sheep are kind of that perfect intermediate species to eat grass and kind of not do damage to the solar array,” Sullivan said. 

There are 12 sheep in total. All of them are female retired show sheep. They’ll maintain the greenery around the solar panels which are spread over eight acres. 

Alexander Strauch, a laying hen veterinarian at Herbruck’s said they’ve done such a good job already that staff has been using mobile fencing to move the animals around, making sure they don’t re-graze the areas where they’ve already maintained vegetation. He added that having the sheep on the farm is a 3-for-1 deal. 

“We’re getting energy from the sun, panels are going to power about a quarter of the facility here to make sure that we’re getting out good eggs and having healthy hens then we’re using sheep and not lawn mowers to maintain our vegetation. They are in turn giving us fertilizer for our field,” Strauch said. 

The sheep will remain on the farm until late summer or early fall and the plan is to bring them back each summer. 

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