The great sheep debate

For many years, beef was criticised as the most environmentally unfriendly meat but there appeared to be little mention of mutton or lamb. Now, there has been a surge in concern because of the methane sheep produce.

I have my reservations about sheep-farming, based on the destruction of the North York Moors, which I have written about previously. Suffice to say, I would like to see more trees in the said area – but I can see that there are benefits to sheep as well.

I’ve tried looking on the internet for information about the benefits of using sheep’s fleece in the garden and have found almost nothing. One woman in Sweden has been mulching her crops with the stuff as it apparently both helps water retention and prevents water logging. Elsewhere I have learned that fleece contributes nitrogen to the soil and that molluscs don’t like it.

I’ve now made a mat with the loom my dad and I made last year, which was a quick and easy procedure. Except that I had managed to felt the fleece, so it looks like quite a bit of it will be going on the garden as mulch.

Not only therefore might the sheep mitigate their flatulence by enabling more plants to grow, which absorb carbon, but I’d have thought that busying myself with a non-mechanical loom and felt would have had a smaller environmental impact than say watching TV or playing golf. In other words, I wonder if this data is taken into consideration when impact calculations are made?

About Helen

I have always been interesting in living a more environmentally friendly lifestyle and used to do what I could. Now, I have come to realise that we have reached such a point in terms of environmental degradation that it is more important - perhaps - to focus on building resilience. I therefore do as much as I can to reuse, grow my own and encourage a supportive community, for example. I also keep reading and learning all the time.
This entry was posted in Crafts, Good for the environment, soil management and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

6 Responses to The great sheep debate

  1. Now I am beginning to worry about human flatulence

  2. streepie says:

    Sheep fleece in your garden retains water, provides nutrients (nitrogen), slowly releasing them, and repels slugs. I know quite few people here in Germany and Switzerland who use it.

    The issue with sheep and their flatulence on the climate as well as their impacts on vegetation are quite nuanced – in most areas of Europe, husbandry created new habitats, replacing forests with e.g. species rich meadows (which in turn created new habitats for insects). However, too much grazing / too high stocking rates has negative effects again, as it reduces plant diversity.

    Trees are not the only way of storing carbon – peatlands are equally important. So there might be a delicate balance that we need to maintain here ;-).


  3. Helen says:

    Thanks for your comment, Cornelia. Good to hear that in Germany and Switzerland some people are using sheep’s fleece for their soil/plants.

  4. Pingback: Yuk and yak | Growing out of chaos

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