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MAINZ, Germany — Call it shear genius: Switzerland's renowned rail system is relying on flocks of sheep to keep itself clean.
The Federal Swiss Railway (SBB) has employed woolly workers to "mow" more than 6,000 acres of grassy embankments along its tracks in Switzerland.
“We have a total of 80 sheep that are now employed with our company,” SBB spokesman Daniele Pallecchi told NBC News. "Our routes are very clean, no surprise.”
That's because the sheep are "highly efficient" at maintaining the embankments thanks to their inherent skill at grazing rough terrain and steep slopes, according to the SBB. It said that each animal is active for around 22 hours a day and grazes an area roughly the size of a large bedroom.
Swiss officials say the four-legged lawnmowers are superior to their more conventional competition because they promote biodiversity by eating "carefully" instead of "just mowing everything down like a machine.” Plus, the sheep protect the sanctitude of Swiss scenery because they're quieter than motorized mowers.
Customers concerned for the sheep's safety needn't worry: an electric fence ensures the animals won't wander onto the high-speed train tracks and all of the woolly workers have access to "sheep shelters -- with a ready supply of fresh water and mineral salts," according to SBB.
“SBB sheep love their job because they get to do what comes naturally to them,” the rail company said.