Author Topic: Sheep on topped grass  (Read 2382 times)


  • Joined Jul 2012
Sheep on topped grass
« on: July 06, 2012, 05:36:55 pm »
Thanks all for making us welcome in the Introductions section - first sheep-related question coming! It took a long time to complete the purchase of our land and in the meantime the grass has got extremely long. Our sheep are coming in a week's time and I need to find somewhere to put them. The horses are struggling to make any impact on the grass in their paddock. The paddock we're planning to put the sheep in has some short grass, but is mostly quite long.
I've read that too much lush grass is bad for sheep and so I'm considering getting the proposed sheep paddock topped. Really grateful for any advice as to the wisdom (or otherwise) of putting sheep in a paddock that's been topped (I know it's bad for the horses). Any other ideas welcome! There will be 5 sheep on an acre and I will have electric net fencing so could strip graze?


  • Joined Apr 2011
Re: Sheep on topped grass
« Reply #1 on: July 06, 2012, 06:15:40 pm »
I'm no expert but our sheep do prefer topped grass. Also if it's too long they can hurt their feet (hence all the limping sheep you see).
Not sure about strip grazing.
Our sheep have horns so we can't use electric netting, and the electric tape stuff they just get through if they really want to.
Topping good for weed control too.
If you manage your land properly and rotate grazing there should (in theory) be no need for topping, but we always have to.
Lush grass can make them scour too (give them the runs). Hope that helps a bit. Someone more experienced than me will be along soon no doubt.
Joanne xxx
« Last Edit: July 06, 2012, 06:17:27 pm by JMB »


  • Joined Aug 2010
  • Aberdeenshire
Re: Sheep on topped grass
« Reply #2 on: July 06, 2012, 06:31:55 pm »
Normally, unless it's been fertilised, the tops of grasses are much older and less sugary than the shorter grazed down stuff.
So the issue is probably more about whether the sheer amount will give them the runs, or hurt their feet.
If you could strip graze it using the electric netting (assuming they are not horned; electric net isnt allowed for horned sheep for obvious reasons under the welfare code) then you should avoid most of the issues; make sure that battery is on and you mow a strip under the electric fence to prevent it not having the required zap, oh and earth it well to the ground.


  • Joined Feb 2008
  • Near Bodmin, Cornwall
    • Val Grainger
Re: Sheep on topped grass
« Reply #3 on: July 06, 2012, 08:59:19 pm »
Well, my opinion is...just put the sheep in and don't fuss! I have 13 ewes and 12 lambs in 3 acres of long and lush grass and they are happy as larry, not loose let alone scouring and putting on weight like gooduns!
The field in question is very old woodland pasture (it has about 10 mature trees in it) They love it there and by November when the ewes will go to the ram it will be eaten down short. depends on the grass and whether its old and herby or fertilised and 'improved' as for causing foot probs i have to say that since switching to primitives from Dorsets i have had no foot problems and not one lame sheep.

Overall winner of the Devon Environmental Business Awards 2009

Mallows Flock

  • Joined Apr 2012
  • Shepton mallet
    • Somerset Pet Sitting and Dog Walking
Re: Sheep on topped grass
« Reply #4 on: July 06, 2012, 11:12:22 pm »
Hi blackbird
I have to say.... my sheep are not particularly fussy. They just LOVE GRASS... SHORT GRASS, LONG GRASS, GREEN GRASS,all grass is food to them.  My fatty commericals eat the best bits and my Shetlands eat the hedgerows and the more marginal grasses. I prefer to top as I have thistle central and want to safeguard against Orf but in these weather conditions what contractors want to come out to top 4 fiddly small paddocks in open top tractors????????????? I bought a little ride on last year to keep it kind of sensible but the huge amount of rain and random hot sun has meant that it has beaten me and I am, again, awaiting a contractor (any one of the 5 i am booked in with will do!!) to come and cut it asap.
In the meantime, the sheep are busy stuffing as much as they can in.
The main benefit to topped grass is that I can walk in the paddocks in wellies without wet grass soaking my jeans up to my groin and making it look like i have perpetual incontinence problems  :eyelashes:
From 3 to 30 and still flocking up!

Small Farmer

  • Joined Jan 2012
  • Bedfordshire
Re: Sheep on topped grass
« Reply #5 on: July 06, 2012, 11:36:16 pm »
EBLEX say that the optimum grass length is 8-10cm.

Long grass provides ideal conditions for scald and foot rot (wet, warm and abrasions) which you really don't want so get it topped.  Our Fleming topper leaves deep grass in lines which then rot and kill the grass underneath so if it carries on raining it could be worth removing some of the arisings with a harrow.

Ah, the joy of waiting for a contractor!
Being certain just means you haven't got all the facts


  • Joined Aug 2011
Re: Sheep on topped grass
« Reply #6 on: July 07, 2012, 12:29:25 am »
I believe its easier to digest short grass, but in my experience sheep aren't that fussy although really lush pasture of the length eblex advocate would make all mine scour.

I'd just bung em on myself, try not to trim feet routineley and hopefully you wont see much rot/scald.


  • Joined Apr 2010
  • Aberdeenshire
    • Brucklay Pygmy Goats
    • Facebook
Re: Sheep on topped grass
« Reply #7 on: July 07, 2012, 08:07:48 am »
We have area's of long grass in the sheep paddocks but it tends to be around where they sleep - usually I try to top these area (more for my benefit than theirs) but this year the grass is growing faster than I can cut - and the sheep seem perfectly happy and I did think the other day it gave them a bit of shelter when they snuggle down.

So I wouldn't worry about putting the sheep in and just keeping an eye on them - good excuse for a break!
Pygmy Goats, Call Ducks, Shetland Sheep, Castlemilk Moorit Sheep, Sasha German Shepherd, Zip Border Collie, BeeBee the cat, Skye Buzzard, Poopee Bengal Eagle Owl

Castle Farm

  • Joined Nov 2008
  • Hereford/Powys Border. near Hay-on-Wye
    • castlefarmeggs
Re: Sheep on topped grass
« Reply #8 on: July 07, 2012, 08:26:51 am »
Top part of it and leave the rest. The regrowth will be higher in sugars and may scour the sheep.
Traditional Utility Breed Hatching Eggs sent next day delivery. Pure bred Llyen Sheep.

Small Farmer

  • Joined Jan 2012
  • Bedfordshire
Re: Sheep on topped grass
« Reply #9 on: July 07, 2012, 08:31:22 am »
So you've had the full range of options advised!
Being certain just means you haven't got all the facts


  • Joined Jul 2012
Re: Sheep on topped grass
« Reply #10 on: July 07, 2012, 09:21:14 am »
Thanks all for you helpful replies. I will take advice from the breeder when he delivers them as well, but think I'll put them in the paddock with the areas of shorter grass and watch out for their bums and feet. Like everyone else, we're waiting for the contractor to be able to cut the bigger (2 acre) field for hay, then they can go in their to graze on the aftermath. Can't wait till my sheep arrive! Off to Buckingham now to get them feed and water troughs.  :wave:


  • Joined Dec 2011
Re: Sheep on topped grass
« Reply #11 on: July 07, 2012, 06:48:13 pm »
I'm assuming you are worried about the effects of the topped grass on the sheep - with horses they should not be fed cut grass which will ferment and cause them problems, even death in some cases if they eat enough of it. As far as I'm aware it doesn't affect sheep in the same way, although I'm not 100% positive on this.

I recently topped an area between two fields which had grown too long, I left the topped grass a day or two to dry out and then put the sheep on it.  Not sure if you'd get a day or two of dry weather at the mo!!  ::)   They ate all the cut grass and have kept it just right!  None have got scours or come to any harm  :)
2 horses, 4 ponies, 6 dogs, 1 cat, 2 Kune Kunes, 34 sheep (various)


  • Joined Aug 2011
Re: Sheep on topped grass
« Reply #12 on: July 07, 2012, 07:06:56 pm »
I hope it doesn't - I know a horsey feller next to my sheep who mows his paddocks and the grass is gathered in the back of the mower which compresses it into a lump roughly the dimensions of a round bale which I let him dump on my sheep field. They love it and it only lasts a couple of days.

Simple Simon

  • Guest
Re: Sheep on topped grass
« Reply #13 on: July 07, 2012, 08:45:58 pm »
My mowings get very hot very quickly, I mean within half an hour the grass is uncomfortably hot in the centre.  How do you get round this?


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