Saturday, June 09, 2018 by Frances Bloomfield
Could sheep help solve the weed problem troubling coffee plantations? According to an investigative team from the National Institute of Medical Sciences and Nutrition Salvador Zubirán (INCMNSZ), they most certainly can. So much so that they found the use of sheep to be highly beneficial from economic, agronomic, and environmental viewpoints.
To arrive at this conclusion, the researchers turned to Pelibuey sheep. A breed of domestic sheep native to Mexico and the Caribbean, these hardy animals are raised primarily for their meat since they’re unable to grow wool. Around 32 male Pelibuey lambs were utilized for the study, which took place in the municipality of Comapa in Veracruz, Mexico. There, the researchers carried out their study 40 days before coffee was scheduled to be harvested from a local plantation.
The lambs were split into two groups. One group was to be given a daily dose of 70 g of supplements per day, while the other wouldn’t be given any supplementation. Additionally, the lambs had access to pasture lands and a coffee plantation, where they were allowed to graze on established grasses or weeds. Some of these included kikuyu grass (Pennisetum clandestinum) and giant star grass (Cynodon plectostachyus), both of which are known to be highly aggressive, fast-growing weeds and grasses.
In terms of daily weight gain, the lambs that had the highest number were those who’d been given supplements and grazed on coffee plantation weeds. Their average daily weight gain amounted to 112.75 g. According to the researchers, these animals put on the most weight despite being given the same dose of supplements as the lambs that fed on pasture land grasses. All in all, the supplements-and-weeds lamb group was found to be the most beneficial when it came to the economic, agronomic, and environmental aspects of coffee plantation weed control. (Related: Hire A Goat?)
Far from just keeping coffee plantations free of weeds, sheep are so effective at consuming unwanted greenery that they’ve become the go-to weed solution in place of herbicides. As per Sheep101.info, the most notable uses for sheep include:
Visit Harvest.news for more studies and news about eco-friendly farming.