Have you “herd” about our sheep? See what I did there? Read on to find out more!
The Ottawa Valley Waste Recovery Centre employed over 20 new staff this summer but not in the way you would think. OVWRC partnered with local farmer and North Algona Wilberforce Councilor Janet Reiche-Schoenfeldt who brought in a small herd of sheep and lambs to graze in a closed area of the landfill to assist with managing vegetative growth.
Sue McCrae, General Manager at the Waste Recovery Centre explains why managing vegetative growth on the landfill is so important. “As part of our operating license, grasses and other vegetation on closed areas of the landfill must be maintained so the area can be inspected regularly. We can either do this by mechanical means using a tractor and brush mower or we can utilize more natural methods like sheep.”
The concept of using goats or sheep to assist with vegetation management is not a new idea. The Centre is aware of other programs in Alberta and in the United States where goats and sheep have been used as a natural method to assist in managing vegetative growth on landfills and in City parks.
“One of our biggest concerns was the safety and welfare of the animals which is why we partnered with Councilor Reiche-Schoenfeldt. We knew she would have the knowledge and expertise to ensure the animals were healthy and protected from predators.” Comments McCrae.
OVWRC staff installed electric fencing, a water bowl and a structure to provide shade. Councilor Janet Reiche-Schoenfeldt provided 20 sheep from her farm. The sheep grazed in a large fenced in area during the day and at night, the sheep were moved into a more secure area to protect them from predators.
“The sheep were happy.” Comments Councilor Janet Reiche-Schoenfeldt. “They remained healthy throughout the entire summer and we did not have a problem with predators. It was great to partner with OVWRC to provide a natural method to help control grasses and other vegetation at the landfill.”
It was not only the environmental benefit of using natural methods to control vegetation, there was also a cost savings. “Typically, the Centre has to rent a tractor and brush mower and utilize Centre staff to operate the equipment. This year the sheep were able to maintain the vegetation in a large area of the landfill.” States Mrs. McCrae.
Considering the success of this project, Councilor Janet Reiche-Schoenfeldt will be providing sheep again next year. “We have already identified some areas we can improve like increasing rotation of the pasture area. I look forward to working with Centre staff on this project again next summer.”