Sheep grazing in the Biology Centre campuses
Apart from lawn maintenance itself, the aim of introducing sheep grazing to BC campuses is also to inspire employees, students and public. We can hardly imagine a better place than a biologically focused research institution, where the public could see grazing as an alternative tool for maintenance of green spaces is possible in urban areas too. Sheep grazing further extends the changes in maintenance of our greens spaces that started in 2014. This includes those immediately visible, such as mosaic mowing and ponds, as well as those which will become evident after some time, e.g. planting of rare, local varieties of fruits (started in campus Na Sádkách this spring) and other local and/or ornamental trees and shrubs, removal of invasive plants and trees (Reynoutria spp., Acer negundo, Robinia pseudoacacia), or continuous sowing and support of nectariferous and host plants for insects.
The sheep are hybrids of two Czech breeds – Valashka (from Wallachian region in Beskydy Mts., NE Czech Rep.) and Shumavka (from nearby Šumava Mts.). All of them are females, including the horned one, which inherited this trait from Valashka breed, which she closely resembles and in which both sexes possess horns. In contrary, the largest hornless one resembles the Shumavka breed. They are 6 years old. In the autumn, they will move back home to Novohradske Mts. The sheep get cereal almost every day, the rest of their nutrition needs are facilitated by grazing. If you collect dry, non-sweet (!) cereals, you can leave them at the reception - the sheep will definitely appreciate it. Please, do not feed sheep without the agreement of responsible staff (Miloslav Jirků) – our experience shows that it is impossible to regulate it as soon as people are allowed to do so. Thanks for understanding. Water and a mineral lick are available to them all the time. Many people ask about this – no, they do not need shelter. They just lay in meadow and ruminate when it is raining, never using shelter, so that their owner told us not to build any, as they are unlikely to use it anyway. They definitely do not feel cold even during very cool days – they have wool, although trimmed recently, and their rumen, which is actually a huge fermentation chamber, heats them well from inside. No worries. On the other hand, the possibility to escape from heat is important, therefore all grazing plots were designed to provide deep shadow behind buildings (Branisovska campus) or under trees (Na Sadkach campus). The girls will stay in Branisovska for another 2-3 weeks, according to grazing progress, and then will be moved to Na Sadkach, where there are rich blooming meadows awaiting them. As soon as they will become more tame and handling will be possible, one of them will get a bell on her neck.
Enjoy the ruminants!