Campus Currents

Natural Born Eating Machines

Talk about cutting-edge companies. This summer, a Concord, N.H., firm had its workers—1,200 Montana sheep—eat their way down a 37-mile strip of New Hampshire in a pilot program that replaces mowers with chewers.

D. Dickinson Henry, Jr., started his company, Bellwether Solutions LLC, two years ago with the assistance of UNH's Cooperative Extension, which conducted initial feasibility studies and helped him find overnight accommodations for his "employees" at UNH's Burley-Demeritt Farm in Lee, N.H.

Interested in this low-tech, environmentally friendly way to maintain brush growth under power lines, Public Service of New Hampshire signed a three-year contract with Bellwether. Last spring, 500 sheep made their debut in PSNH's Grazing Power Project. This year, a larger herd tackled the Pembroke-Deerfield-Lee area.

Are sheep more efficient than lawn mowers? Henry says sheep have the upper hand—or hoof—over lawn mowers because they get to the root of the problem. When sheep graze an area for a couple of years, they'll eventually kill off a plant's root system. To monitor the project, three recent UNH graduates are collecting data: so far they've determined that the sheep prefer cherry, birch, oak and maple saplings, and 250 of them can cover an acre in a day. Watch out, John Deere.

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