Prescribed grazing with sheep is an excellent way to defoliate overgrown vegetation in areas that are too steep, rough, or wooded to mow, and it is an environmentally friendly alternative to the use of herbicides. In a surprisingly short time property is restored to a manageable condition. The sheep consume almost everything green within browse height (about 4.5 feet) and actually stand front feet on trees to reach more ivy on tree trunks. Of course, continued maintenance using grazing or other means will be required to manage regrowth of vegetation.
Cost: Yes, we do small projects with a minimum job cost of $700 which would cover a mostly fenced area in Atlanta. If we have several in one neighborhood, we can combine the minimum and reduce the price some for smaller sites. Very generally the cost will work out to about $1200-$1800 per acre on larger projects depending on distance, fencing required, and and vegetation type and amount. Keep in mind, that if you divide the cost over the many years of spending probably $0 in maintenance cost, it is still very much less than lawn care. If you consider the cost of tree removal due to death by ivy, mosquito control, and even possible copperhead bite on child or pet, the cost to remove English ivy is more than reasonable and, by the way, considerably less than the dumpster fee to haul the ivy off – excluding loading it into the dumpster. Prescribed grazing is a very effective, environmentally friendly and even fun way to remove English ivy but it is not a cheap or easy service to provide.
What You Can Expect:The sheep will eat everything green (with only a few exceptions including vinca, azalea, Virginia creeper, wisteria, and sometimes a few of the English ivy leaves on the ground). Vines on the trees will need to be cut but this is quick and easy once the sheep have removed the leaves up to 5 feet (ask if you want us to do this for you). English ivy will require at least one repeat grazing pass or other treatment to be killed but it is very much slowed down and drastically reduced following one defoliation. Kudzu will require several precisely timed passes to kill the taproot. The amount of sunlight and other factors will determine how fast the vegetation grows back.
How Long It Will Take: A stocking rate to produce the desired results within 3 to 14 days is optimal. Sheep can be moved from one area to another on larger projects. As a rough rule of thumb, on heavily overgrown property, 20 sheep will defoliate an acre up to browse height in 10–14 days, depending on what is there.
Can I have sheep on my property? You may want to check your local ordinances to be sure, but we have worked in Fulton, DeKalb, Cobb, Walton, Clarke, Stone Mountain, Gainesville, and others with no permit or problem. It is a good idea to advise neighbors that the sheep will be there temporarily to do a job and (where appropriate) to please be sure their dogs do not harass them. The sheep are not particularly dog sensitive, since many of our clients and ourselves have dogs, but persistent barking or an encounter with the electric fence are undesirable. Athens, GA requires a permit in some areas which we will take care of.