CORTLAND, N.Y. (WSYR-TV) — SUNY Cortland had to think outside of the box to maintain the lawn of their 2.4 acre solar array while keeping up with their zero-carbon initiative.

The solar array produces 1,118 kilowatts of electricity but has several hard-to-reach spots that makes regular lawn care daunting. That’s why they decided to go with sheep.

The sheep are all Mouflon rams, a type of sheep that isn’t a picky eater and enjoys the shade. SUNY Cortland says that there is around a dozen of these “four-legged solar stars” on campus from mid-April to December.

Director of Facilities Operations and Services Daniel Dryja said that, while the sheep were a practical choice, it doesn’t make having them around any less fun.

Having the sheep on site to control the vegetative growth within the solar panel arrays has been very successful. They do a good job controlling the growth and save unnecessary wear and tear on our equipment, as well as countless man hours mowing and trimming around the panels. Plus, the sheep tend to be very popular among our community members, as you can often find individuals stopping and taking pictures.

Director of Facilities Operations and Services Daniel Dryja

The sheep provide a lot of benefits, SUNY Cortland says. They’re cost effective, environmentally friendly, and can easily get around the nooks and crannies of the array. While the lawn maintenance might be tough for humans, the sheep just see a lot of food!

SUNY Cortland adds that the creative use of the hungry livestock has strengthened the school’s role as an environmental leader among college campuses. The school has already been recognized as a sustainable campus by The Princeton Review, Sierra Magazine and the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education. SUNY Cortland has also been operating on 100% renewable electricity for almost 10 years.