Curtis Tate Published

These Sheep Have A Green Job: Eating The Grass At Toyota’s Solar Farm

White sheep graze green grass next to a solar array under a cloudy sky.
Toyota's solar farm next to its factory in Buffalo.
Curtis Tate / WVPB

Toyota of West Virginia has found a creative way to keep the vegetation under control around its solar array in Putnam County.

Sheep eat the grass that grows under Toyota’s 2.6 megawatt solar farm next to its engine and transmission factory in Buffalo.

The 20 sheep graze from April to October, under the watchful eye of Pickles the dog.

The company had considered using goats to do the job, but they have destructive tendencies, including eating the wires and jumping on top of the panels.

Using sheep avoids the emissions of a commercial mower, as well as the hail of rocks and debris that could damage the panels and other equipment.

David Rosier, president of Toyota West Virginia, said the sheep belong to a local farmer. During the winter months, they will go back to the farm.

“We’ve been doing it for about two weeks, and we’re seeing great benefits so far,” Rosier said.

The five-acre solar array, the state’s largest, produces about 10 percent of the factory’s power.