Thursday 28 May 2015


Switzerland: Rail company deploys 'lawnmower sheep'

The Skudde sheep were at risk of extinction in the 1970s and are now a protected breed 
When train passengers in Switzerland look out of the window this spring they may spot the state railway company's newest recruits - a flock of Skudde sheep.

The animals are acting as four-legged lawnmowers for Swiss Federal Railways (SBB), helping to keep the grass along its tracks tidy, The Local Local website reports. They're particularly handy on steep embankments, which mechanical lawnmowers find harder to reach. Switzerland's famous railway system covers more than 3,000km (1,864 miles) of track, with many routes crossing mountainous terrain. The sheep are kept safe while they graze thanks to netting and electrified rope fencing, SBB says on its website. Anyone wanting to follow their progress can do so via an online map, which is updated with the flock's most recent location.
The company has been singing the praises of its new helpers, who began work this month. It says the sheep are "superior to conventional lawnmowers" because they pick what they eat carefully "instead of just mowing everything down like a machine", sparing many wildflowers. As well as being environmentally friendly, the animals are extremely efficient, pausing for only a couple of hours a day to sleep. And the company says, compared to a standard lawnmower, they're "much more fun to watch!"