Kudzu-eating sheep take a bite out of weeds

It's everywhere in the South. The green, winding vines of kudzu line highways, climb trees and fill backyards. It can be downright aggravating if you want to get rid of it.

Except if you're a sheep or a goat.

"They'll eat just about everything," Brian Cash, of Decatur, told the AJC.

As the owner of Eweniversally Green, Cash makes a living helping customers fight off kudzu, ivy and other weeds. His employees? About 100 four-legged friends.

"Primarily sheep and a few well-behaved goats," Cash, 30, said.

Unwanted greenery gets chomped away quickly when Cash brings his animals by. The sheep stay busy, but they don't mind. Plus, the change of location every few days is nice.

"The animals are on really good, lush food," Cash said. "It's like going to a fancy restaurant every day."

Although using livestock to control plant growth is common in rural areas, Cash said he's the only one with a business like his in Atlanta. He grew up in Dunwoody, nowhere near the country, but he's been interested in livestock since he was a child.

Since he started the venture earlier this year, both he and the animals have been busy, going from site to site all over town. Customers are asked to provide water for the animals and to wash all the greenery down. And Cash brings along a temporary, solar-powered fence that goes up quickly to prevent the animals from escaping or getting injured.

Kathie Brown, of Dunwoody, told the AJC she and her husband bought their current home about a year ago, but haven't gotten much use out of the backyard due to poison ivy. Brown said she's tried chemicals in the past to get rid of it, but when a friend mentioned using sheep, she liked the idea. The animals arrived Sunday afternoon and have been chomping away ever since on about a half-acre.

"They demolished the underbrush and the ivy," Brown said. "They were super, super quiet until they started to run low on food."

Brown said her husband, Kevin, cut down more samplings and the animals were happy again. Now, other neighbors are considering hiring the goats. And the Browns have met other neighbors, such as those with young children, since the animals have been in the yard.

"There are three or four of them that enjoy being petted," Kathy Brown said. "He really takes good care of them."

Cash says some of the animals have been rescues, and he takes very good care of his four-legged workers.

"We are a working farm," Cash said. "Our animals are our livelihood, so we do put them first."

The kudzu diet is a healthy one for animals, according to Grantly Ricketts, a University of Georgia extension agent for Fulton County.

"The kudzu is very invasive and it's going to keep growing," Ricketts said. "It's a legume, and animals love legumes."

About the only things the animals won't eat are rhododendrons and azaleas, which can be harmful, Cash said. Eventually, he says he'd like to add even more animals to the business. The goal is 300, he said.

Cash can be reached via email at brian@eweniversallygreen.com or by phone at 678-595-0147.