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Introduction to Starting an Urban Grazing Project

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Urban Shepherds is a non profit organization promoting the grazing of sheep as a sustainable solution for managing landscaping. The benefits to the community include job creation, reducing environmental impact while lowering the cost of mowing, and producing locally grown food. Urban Shepherds also seeks to promote urban farming and increase sheep production, recruiting and training, and providing support to future shepherds.

Urban Shepherds promotes urban grass fed lamb operations. It is our mission to educate urban and suburban residents how they can start their own for profit operations. We will help you start a program in your community, finding flocks, identifying appropriate lots for sheep, help with fundraising, assisting with zoning and permitting for sites, preparing the sites for the flocks, training staff or volunteer shepherds, and securing any needed professional shepherds to oversee projects.

Learn more about how you can make money from lamb crops and save money on land management, enhance the environment, and provide social capital by managing your open spaces and vacant lands with sheep.

www.UrbanShepherds.org

Published in: Education
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Introduction to Starting an Urban Grazing Project

  1. 1. UrbanShepherds.org Stop Mowing & Start Grazing
  2. 2. UrbanShepherds.org Urban Shepherds Urban Shepherds is a non profit organization promoting the grazing of sheep as a sustainable solution for managing landscaping. The benefits to the community include job creation, reducing environmental impact while lowering the cost of mowing, and producing locally grown food. Urban Shepherds also seeks to promote urban farming and increase sheep production, recruiting and training, and providing support to future shepherds. Urban Shepherds promotes urban grass fed lamb operations. It is our mission to educate urban and suburban residents how they can start their own for profit operations. We will help you start a program in your community, finding flocks, identifying appropriate lots for sheep, help with fundraising, assisting with zoning and permitting for sites, preparing the sites for the flocks, training staff or volunteer shepherds, and securing any needed professional shepherds to oversee projects.
  3. 3. UrbanShepherds.org Starting an Urban Grazing Program Allowing sheep and goats (small ruminants) to graze seasonally for vegetation management within your community.
  4. 4. UrbanShepherds.org Urban Shepherds • A nonprofit organization and • A team of experienced planners, shepherds, and educators who are: – Promoting grazing as a cost-saving and environmental alternative to mowing – Promoting urban farming and increasing sheep production – Educating and recruiting future shepherds
  5. 5. UrbanShepherds.org Steps to Getting Started • Create zoning and permitting to allow for small ruminants on appropriate sites • Start Urban Shepherds Training and Certification • Work with your regional professional shepherds to ensure clean healthy flocks
  6. 6. UrbanShepherds.org Our modern idea of lawns was born from images of European estates that were maintained by sheep. The Origin of Lawns
  7. 7. UrbanShepherds.org Grazing is Not a New Idea The White House lawn once had sheep grazing during Wilson's administration to save money on grounds keeping.
  8. 8. UrbanShepherds.org Today
  9. 9. UrbanShepherds.org Save Money
  10. 10. UrbanShepherds.org • Lawn maintenance runs May through October, some 24 weeks. • In spring and fall, the grass needs to be cut twice per week, and in dry conditions every week and a half for an average required of 32 cuttings per acre. • The cost can top $1,900 per acre per year.
  11. 11. UrbanShepherds.org • Sheep offer a cost-effective alternative to mechanized mowers for landowners. • Mechanical mowing of one acre requires two to five gallons of gasoline. • Hiring a lawn cut can cost $40-$60 per week, and at times mowing twice a week. • Costs can be $120 per week/acre.
  12. 12. UrbanShepherds.org Reduce Environmental Impacts • Fact: According to the EPA, one gas mower spews 88 lbs. of the greenhouse gas CO2, and 34 lbs. of other pollutants into the air every year. Source: EPA
  13. 13. UrbanShepherds.org Reduce Environmental Impacts • Fact: Over 17 million gallons of gas are spilled each year refueling lawn and garden equipment – more oil than was spilled by the Exxon Valdez. Source: EPA
  14. 14. UrbanShepherds.org Environmental Impacts • According to Lawn and Landscape Magazine, the EPA estimates that gas-powered lawn equipment, including lawn mowers, trimmers, leaf blowers, and chainsaws are responsible for 5% of air pollution in cities. • Using a new lawn mower (it's much worse for older models) for an hour creates the same amount of air pollution as driving a used car for 50 miles Brower and Leon, The Consumer's Guide to Effective Environmental Choices: Practical Advice from the Union of Concerned Scientists, 1999.
  15. 15. UrbanShepherds.org Environmental Impacts • The University of Florida estimates that a gallon of gasoline is enough to mow four acres. If mowing season is considered to span from May until October, this means that if the lawn is mowed weekly, it will be mowed approximately 24 times. • Sustainable Portland estimates that 1 gallon of gas produces 20 pounds of CO2. • This means that (1 acre)*(1 gallon of gas/acre)*(20 pounds of CO2/gallon of gas)*(24 times/year)= 480 pounds of CO2 per year per acre
  16. 16. UrbanShepherds.org Benefit of Grazing • 200 animal days of grazing creates 600 pounds of manure containing ten pounds of nitrogen and eight pounds of phosphate that are readily available for plant growth. • This would be similar to the amount of fertilizer recommended for a spring treatment for the average lawn care.
  17. 17. UrbanShepherds.org Benefit of Grazing • Sheep can operate in conditions, like steep terrains along power lines, that men and machines cannot easily access. • Sheep can eliminate thistle, brush, noxious weeds, and other invasive plants and restore native grasses. • Sheep do not compact the soil or disturb the indigenous species.
  18. 18. UrbanShepherds.org Sheep Provide a Sense of Place Neighborhoods take ownership and keep a watchful eye on the flock.
  19. 19. UrbanShepherds.org Urban Ag-tourism Opportunities Communities Flock to see the Sheep
  20. 20. UrbanShepherds.org Support Urban Farming Educational Programming
  21. 21. UrbanShepherds.org Create a More Productive Crop than Grass Clippings
  22. 22. UrbanShepherds.org Additional Benefits • Sheep are the original lawn mowers, their grazing habits are ideally suited to keeping grass at a uniform height while fertilizing the soil. • Studies show that sheep mowing reduces pollution, maintenance, use of herbicides, and gas and oil requirements. Sheep fertilize while they graze and produce lean, healthy, local food and wool products
  23. 23. UrbanShepherds.org Additional Benefits • The benefits of using natural lawn mowers go beyond saved time and money. • An acre of lawn can provide 600 pounds of grass forage. This is enough forage to produce about 160 pounds of lamb meat and several pounds of wool.
  24. 24. UrbanShepherds.org Needed Growth in the American Sheep Industry
  25. 25. UrbanShepherds.org Lamb as Local Food Shift to local food purchases means more money stays in our communities Based on a $3 food multiplier that can generate economic development
  26. 26. UrbanShepherds.org Urban Grazing Occurs During Sheep Maintenance Periods Urban Shepherds grazing program utilizes sheep and goats during the maintenance period of the Shepherd’s Calendar
  27. 27. UrbanShepherds.org How It Works Pasture-based, low input system • Weaned lambs are purchased and graze during the growing season until the season ends and they are ready to be sold at market. • Non pregnant/non lactating ewes are leased (and insured) and graze for the season before returning to their farms for breeding. • Goats are used for clearing projects.
  28. 28. UrbanShepherds.org • Animals weighed before and after the grazing season. • Lambs sold at market for a profit based on weight gain.
  29. 29. UrbanShepherds.org Maintenance Responsibilities • Checking to make sure the sheep have water and mineral daily. • Checking for any signs of predators or parasites daily. • Moving the sheep, temporary fencing, etc. for rotational grazing every 2 to 3 days. • Worming, trimming, and shearing as needed.
  30. 30. UrbanShepherds.org Training & Certification • Urban Shepherds teaches people how to care for a flock during maintenance
  31. 31. UrbanShepherds.org Training • The Shepherd’s Calendar • How to Handle a Sheep • How to Oversee Grazing Flocks • How to Recognize Common Sheep Ailments • Moving and Maintaining Fencing
  32. 32. UrbanShepherds.org Certification • Upon completion on training, certification will ensure the New Urban Shepherds are ready to care for flocks during the Maintenance Period of the Shepherd’s Calendar and that they are prepared for their Urban Grazing Project
  33. 33. UrbanShepherds.org Model Zoning • Rely on state standards for raising animals • Conditional Use for grazing during the growing season • Require Urban Shepherd Certification • Require Urban Shepherd Management Plan • Require Healthy Flock Certification • Require Insurance
  34. 34. UrbanShepherds.org Urban Shepherds Management Plan • Density • Fencing • Rotational Grazing Plan • Watering Plan • Mineral Supplement • Parasite Management Plan • Handling System • Manure • Predator Management Plan • Biosecurity Plan • Shepherding Schedule • Marketing Plan
  35. 35. UrbanShepherds.org Density Plan • Estimates of forage availability are made on a case by case basis. • Professional shepherds calculate carrying capacity (number of animals to stock per unit area for a defined time). • Although rarely found, sites are checked for any toxic plants before turning in animals.
  36. 36. UrbanShepherds.org • The value could vary from 1-7 adult sheep per acre over an entire season or could be much higher for finite periods (May and June) during the height of grass growth. The density of sheep grazing an area at any point in time depends on how fast the grass is growing and how often you move the animals.
  37. 37. UrbanShepherds.org • Daily movements during fast grass growth might be 500 sheep per acre or just 5 sheep per acre if they are moved every week when the grass growth has nearly stopped (August).
  38. 38. UrbanShepherds.org • Quality of forage is less variable: Weeds can have nearly as much value as improved grass — so the forage issue is more about quantity of the vegetation.
  39. 39. UrbanShepherds.org • The more you move sheep, the more they mow.
  40. 40. UrbanShepherds.org Fencing Plan • Perimeter: Woven wire or goat panel for secure perimeter to provide a physical barrier (woven wire up to 4 ft or equivalent with secure gates) • Interior for Rotational Grazing Divisions: Electric fencing or goat panel for subdivision that is portable and movable.
  41. 41. UrbanShepherds.org Purpose of Fencing • To keep livestock contained • To keep predators out • To control grazing and manage livestock
  42. 42. UrbanShepherds.org Rotational Grazing Plan • A plan for moving grazing livestock between pastures/lawns on a regular basis • Evaluation of the nutritional and forage assess forage quality and quantity • Regulating the acreage of access to control which parts of the pasture animals will have access.
  43. 43. UrbanShepherds.org Watering Plan • Fresh, clean water access needs to be met with portable water lines or tanks that move with the animals. • Water lines can be set up with multiple access points to make moving grazing animals efficient.
  44. 44. UrbanShepherds.org Mineral Supplement • The sheep also need access to a mineral supplement
  45. 45. UrbanShepherds.org Parasite Management Plan • A Five Point Check schedule and FLAMACHA (parasite diagnostic tool) to deal with internal parasites • Parasites are a primary health issue for sheep/goat producers • Particular attention to not calendar worm is needed to prevent resistant parasites.
  46. 46. UrbanShepherds.org Handling System • Provisions should be made to gather animals for inspection and care as needed. • A portable handling system is needed and can be shared between sites. • Animal gathering and movement needs to be considered and the use of a trained herding dog permitted.
  47. 47. UrbanShepherds.org Shelter and Catch Pen • A small pen where animals can be wormed, vaccinated, treated, and routinely checked. • A movable structure to provide shade and relief from extreme weather. • A locker for mineral feeders and wormer storage, flock management guides, tools and medicine, crooks, etc.
  48. 48. UrbanShepherds.org Manure Management • Manure concerns are minor if the animals are properly managed with good grazing practices. • Typically manure disperses into soil well within a month if a few rain events occur. If it is dry, the manure may stay around longer, but it will dry out and lose much of its scent and eventually decompose as soon as it rains.
  49. 49. UrbanShepherds.org Predator Management Plan • Fencing for secure perimeter to eliminate most domestic dogs and other predators • Use of Guardian animals such as dog or llama • Signs to warn the public to avoid pressure on the flock, theft, etc.
  50. 50. UrbanShepherds.org Biosecurity Plan • The flock needs to be inspected and tested for diseases of concern prior to the start of any urban grazing • On site, a dip for visitors is needed to disinfect their footwear and high-risk visitors should be provided with protective footwear. • Display signs to provide information on biosecurity measures.
  51. 51. UrbanShepherds.org Shepherding Schedule • Daily care of animals • Pasture management • Parasite control • Assistance from professional shepherds with herding dogs
  52. 52. UrbanShepherds.org Marketing Plan • Finished lambs need to be sold for highest net price • Direct marketing will increase profitability – Keep ethnic holidays in mind – Niche marketing opportunities
  53. 53. UrbanShepherds.org Link to Healthy Flocks • Professional Shepherds provide healthly sheep from reputable closed flocks to match your grazing needs. • Flocks to be certified – Disease status/parasite resistance status – Good body condition – Breed differences
  54. 54. UrbanShepherds.org Offers the Shepherd • Free Grazing and Flock Management when Leasing Sheep • New Market Opportunities Selling Unfinished Spring Lambs • Shepherd Consultation Fees for Managing Urban Areas
  55. 55. UrbanShepherds.org Offers the Landowner • Education and Training • Short & Long Term Planning • Zoning and Permitting • Program Development, Startup, and Operations • Coordinating Professional & Volunteer Shepherds • Flock Management • Fundraising Assistance • Program Marketing
  56. 56. UrbanShepherds.org STOP MOWING AND START GROWING WITH URBAN SHEPHERDS
  57. 57. UrbanShepherds.org Thank You. for considering a Greener future.

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