On Friday 21th February between 14:00 and 14:30, Grebbeveld Schapen & Zo will walk across the campus with 65 Veluwe heath sheep. They come from the farm on Langesteeg 21 in Bennekom, which they rent from WUR, and are on their way to the Wageningse Eng where the sheep will eat away excess grass.
Grebbeveld Schapen & Zo is a grazing company with 500 ewes that in the summer season is commissioned by site owners to graze heathlands and grasslands to keep them open. This preserves the characteristic flora and fauna of these areas. In the winter the sheep graze fields and grasslands where they eat stubble and grass. This supports tillering (growing vegetatively in the width) creating a denser turf. And for the sheep, this grass is great food.
More than 10 years ago, a large part of Wageningen Campus still consisted of plots that were managed as rough grassland while awaiting construction of buildings. In 2009 a pilot was started to manage these grasslands with a herd of sheep. A shepherd from Friesland, Henri Hoitink, with his border collie Jack, did this for 3 years in the spring and autumn.
In 2012 it was decided to stop this method. The surface of rough grass had become so small that it was no longer profitable for the shepherd to come to Wageningen for it. It also became more difficult to move the herd around the campus without stress. Finally, the animal facilities of ASG (Carus) came to the campus with their own animals. Because of the risk of contamination, they would rather not have another herd in the vicinity of the facilities.
The idea of using Carus's sheep here and there on campus did not ultimately materialize. The main reason is that the sheep must return to their night quarters every day. This is too stressful for the animals. However, sometimes the sheep do stand in the meadows around Carus and can be admired there. Carus knows the sheep from Grebbeveld Schapen & Zo and has no objection that they take this route across the campus site.
The shepherd walks along the bike lane as much as possible and cleans up any fallen manure. The sheep stay on the Eng for 2 weeks and then go back to the Binnenveld, probably across the campus again.