Farmers taking advantage of new measure in Knoxville allowing sheep grazing

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KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) — You may see a different type of farm animal grazing around Knoxville this year; Knoxville city leaders approved “prescribed sheep grazing” at a city council meeting last month.

Now, local farmers are taking advantage of the new measure.

Prescribed goat grazing has already been allowed in Knoxville. The city and those who live in the area have paid local farmers to use goats to get rid of invasive plants near city and county roads and on private properties.

Now the city says sheep are just as well suited to remove invasive plant species as goats are.

“When you’re going down the road and you see Kudzo climbing the cliffside and the hillside and sometimes we’re talking several acres of hard to get to, you think ‘what’s the solution to something like that, and obviously, herbicides can be environmentally hazardous,” said Matthew Edwards, owner of Clinch Mountain Goats. “There’s heavy machinery and equipment, but some of these places even those two can be unreasonable so a lot of time when I look at areas like that, goats seem to be the only solution, and now sheep.”

Edwards said invasive plants like kudzu can grow just about anywhere in East Tennessee, “We’re right in the middle of kudzu season and so it likes a lot of sunshine and moisture as well,” he said.

Edwards adds, “kudzu is extremely invasive. In this project, in particular, I just kind of seem to come out of nowhere and so the property owner I just noticed a little bit of kudzu one day, and then here we are summer later and it’s just out-of-control.”

Last year Clinch Mountain Goats Owner, Matthew Edwards, could only use his goats to get rid of the kudzu but this year, after Knoxville passed the new measure, he’ll be able to double the work in half the time.

“So, this project today is actually our pilot,” he said. “We just wanted to see how sheep could go.”

Edwards explained, “Sheep are grazers and they tend to eat low-lying stuff, and goats are browsers which means it’s been a lot of their time eating up high-eating shrubbery and branches and stuff like that”

He says not only is it an effective solution for his business but a healthy solution for his four-legged employees, “One thing I love about grazing kudzu is that it’s very nutritious for goats and sheep goats and sheep it’s full of protein it’s full of fiber and they love it.”

It’s not just kudzu, sheep and goats eat but any overgrown or invasive vegetation.

The city has used goats to get rid of invasive vegetation in the past but they got a few noise complaints. They say sheep are less prone to making noises.

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