Our world has made the transition into healthier alternatives. One such example is the desire to cut back on harmful pesticides that are used as a form of weed control. As our country (and the world itself) moves toward more sustainability, the rise in Shropshire sheep has become more popular.
Below, we take a look at the history of Shropshire sheep and how they can help cultivate a greener future for all of us.
What Are Shropshire Sheep?
Shropshire sheeps’ history can be traced back to 19th century England when sheep farmers started to breed black-faced sheep with Cotswold and Southdown sheep. These unique sheep are known as a tri-purpose breed, meaning they are commonly used for meat, wool, and weed control, as we’ll explore below.
These sheep have earned a reputation over the years as being incredibly easy to breed and are adaptable to many different climates. They are known to be able to withstand high-rainfall areas and 1000-feet altitudes.
Shropshire Sheep and Weed Control
As times have changed, so has the way we utilise Shropshire sheep. Today, they have become almost a standard practice when it comes to maintaining crops throughout Europe. The Shropshire Sheep Breeders’ Association has established the benefits of using these animals on a conifer farm or plantation. Conifers are a type of plant that have cones – aka some of the most popular trees used for the holiday season.
When it comes to Christmas trees, they need to be weed-free for the first 6 years of their life so they can grow properly. If a tree gets infested with weeds, this can stunt the tree’s overall growth and reduce its quality. To utilize more eco-friendly techniques of weed and grass control, Christmas tree farmers have turned to Shropshire sheep, as they have been proven to eat the weeds and not the trees. However, some rules apply.
First and foremost, when it comes to utilising Shropshire sheep, they need to be properly trained. This can be done with the help of the farmer and breeder, who through good management can develop a routine and take precautionary measures to make sure the sheep eat what they’re intended to. Second, it’s not enough to simply let the sheep roam freely on the farm. Rather, Shropshire sheep have to be introduced to the farm at the right time and under the right circumstances.
For example, it’s best to avoid releasing sheep onto a brand new farm, as this will still give ample time for weeds to grow and potentially devastate the crop. Further, releasing them onto your farm is often dependent on the weather and time of year. Farmers have to be mindful of releasing them when weeds tend to grow, such as in October and November. In most cases, it’s beneficial to release the sheep onto the farm during the spring season, when there are sufficient resources for grazing available.
The Sustainability Benefits With Shropshire
The move from pesticides is a good one, considering the harmful impact they have on the environment. First and foremost, pesticides can be incredibly toxic to animals that spend time near crops such as birds and insects. Second, they can contaminate vegetation and soil. When a pesticide is used in soil, it can be taken up by the plant’s roots like it does water, and ultimately infect the plant’s tissue, which will bear fruit that is contaminated.
For farming, in particular, these pesticides can be toxic to both humans and their pets. From a physical standpoint, pesticides can lead to birth defects, cancer, and Alzheimer’s Disease.
A move toward sustainability is not only beneficial for our health but for our environment, as well. Shropshire sheep have been an important part of the country’s move toward more sustainable and eco-friendly products, which is one step in the right direction of a greener future.
Find Your Perfect Tree from Cork Christmas Tree Farm
At Cork Christmas Tree Farm, we don’t just believe in sending you home with a tree you’ll love, but one that is sustainably grown for your family. We are proud to use Shropshire sheep as an alternative method to using harmful herbicides. When you purchase a tree from us, you can guarantee that we’ve used safe, eco-friendly methods of cultivating and protecting your Christmas tree, while also making the conscious effort to keep our soil healthy. At Cork Christmas Trees, we are committed to a greener future.
We have a wide selection of Nordmann Firs and Noble Firs in stock. All of these trees have excellent needle retention, making them perfect for displaying all of your favourite ornaments for the season. Contact us here to make a purchase. We proudly offer delivery services, as well.