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Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Paris Parks try out eco-friendly lawn mowing.. the Ouessant sheeps

After pathbreaking inventions and improvement in technologies, mankind often returns to Nature finding it to be the best solution.

Ouessant  [also- Ushant] is an island at the south-western end of the English Channel which marks the north-westernmost point of metropolitan France.

Many public places have grass and natural vegetation that adds attraction.  Lawn mowers are used to keep them under control ~ the machines use  revolving blade or blades to cut a lawn at an even height. Lawn mowers employing a blade that rotates about a vertical axis are known as rotary mowers, while those employing a blade assembly that rotates about a horizontal axis are known as cylinder or reel mowers.  There are hand guided as also mechanically driven mowers depending upon the area and usage. 

There is a special breed of domestic sheep called - Ouessant (or Ushant) that take their name from the island of Ouessant. It is one of the Northern European short-tailed sheep breeds and  is one of the smallest breeds of sheep in the world. Most Ouessant are black or dark brown in color, but white individuals do occur. It is stated that the Ouessant sheep are too small to be eaten, or for their wool to be used.    They are quite robust and used for eco-grazing !  

Now 4 of their brand are in news as they are specially roped in to “mow” the Paris public  park’s 2,000 square meters.  The sheep are kept herded thanks to a high, electrified fence. If the experiment goes well, more sheep could make their way to the French capital. News items suggest that Paris city council has launched a pilot project that if successful will see sheep replacing lawnmowers in the French capital's public spaces. According to reports,  Four little black sheep left the countryside and began their new careers in the city: working as eco-friendly lawn mowers in a largely working-class district in northeastern Paris. Between April and October, the new "park workers" will graze grounds the size of eight tennis-courts in three two-week-long sweeps in a move to promote biodiversity and make the grooming of the capital's green areas more sustainable, replacing both chemicals and lawn mowers. Out of work, they will be resting back at a farm on the outskirts of Paris, the Ferme de Paris.

"For a lawn mowed 24 times a year, there is no biodiversity. When you use animals, the droppings attract insects and the insects bring birds," said Eco Terra president Alain Divo whose company plans and organises eco-pasture projects in French urban areas. The sheep reportedly have adjusted to their new environment quicklyin the project ordered by local authorities as a "first" for the city.

Back home, in Tamilnadu, the Chief Minister J Jayalalitha soon after coming to power launched a scheme distributing free goats to poor and landless women.  This was a  scheme proposed to give  them a solid foundation and a sustainable income model. As part of the scheme, government distributed four goats and assistance for maintaining them too.  There is news that  goats distributed during last year, have started giving birth to kids. The beneficiaries point out that the kids could be sold for about Rs 3000 within four months. What you see here are not free goats but the ones taken in an agricultural farm……..

There are Sheeps and there are goats…. Sheep belong to the Ovas Aries species and have 54 chromosomes while goats belong to Capra Hircus species and have 60 chromosomes. A goat’s tail is for most part stands up while a sheep’s hangs down.  More importantly, their eating habits are distinct. A goat is a typical browser, feeding on leaves, shrubs, twigs and vines. A sheep on the other hand loves to graze on grass and clover.

With regards – S. Sampathkumar.
5th April 2013.


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