NFU Mutual Smallholding Insurance

Author Topic: Advice on how to divide pasture  (Read 295 times)


  • Joined Jul 2018
Advice on how to divide pasture
« on: January 18, 2020, 05:58:46 pm »
We have 11 sheep on 2.5 acres - 7 Suffolk/Mule crosses (2 wethers, 5 ewes), 1 Texel and 3 coloured Ryleland wethers. Lately I've noticed the grass is very short, mossy and soggy - the first time I've noticed this in the three years we have kept the sheep. The coloured Ryelands were new arrivals last summer and I'm wondering if we have overtipped the balance and are putting too much pressure on the pasture. Today when pruning the apple trees I lifted up the large circular tree guards and they pretty much head butted each other to get at the grass there.

The land isn't very fertile, on a slope, previously commercial apple orchard. We've been giving them hay since around mid December. The field is undivided but I'm wondering if it would improve its condition if we split it so half could rest for a month at a time. We have some electric sheep fencing - would more experienced smallholders recommend that we divide it in half with this once the grass starts to grow again? Or should we just 'offload' a couple of the larger sheep? Would really appreciate any advice, thank you.

Voss Electric Fence


  • Joined Jan 2011
  • Dumfries & Galloway
Re: Advice on how to divide pasture
« Reply #1 on: January 20, 2020, 10:31:27 am »
Probably need to do both things , while I don't know where you are in the country so don't know your growing season you seem to be describing old permanent pasture .if so then 2+ sheep per acre all year is pushing it a bit .IT is difficult for all grazing to balance the too much grass in summer and the very little grass in winter ,if for instance you buy extra sheep in spring and sell /kill in the autumn then this is one method or cut a little area for hay this is another .  IF you can divide your land in to 4or 5 paddocks then you will increase grass production by grazing hard and resting , if you apply moss killer or buy a set of spring tine harrows to rip it out this will allow the grass to tiller and breath and be dryer  ( less moisture retained by the moss ) . You could also take soil samples and have them tested as the PH may be wrong and the ground short of  P or K  , apple trees like all trees have presumably taken a lot out of the ground


  • Joined Apr 2012
Re: Advice on how to divide pasture
« Reply #2 on: January 20, 2020, 11:39:03 am »
The problem with sheep is if you have enough to eat the grass that grows over summer then you'll be overstocked in winter. And if you're ok over winter, chances are you'll be under stocked in summer and need to top the fields. So whilst dividing off your paddocks will help during the grass growing months, you'll probably find yourself in the same situation next winter. As a rough comparison I have 10 ewe lambs that have been grazing some fields for a neighbour totalling about 6 acres since November, and they are nearly ready for a move.


  • Joined Feb 2017
  • Carmarthenshire
Re: Advice on how to divide pasture
« Reply #3 on: January 20, 2020, 04:31:45 pm »
As you are keeping wethers I am assuming they are pet sheep and your their principal job is to keep the grass down on a slope, I hope I'm right!

Conditions have been horrible this year and its been so wet that well draining fields are wet, so not suprised to hear your fields are to. I suspect that you are overstocked and I really don't see the value in splitting your field so you can rest half. The sheep will eat the grass down in the 1.25 acre to such an extent that it will take weeks to recover and they will scalp the other 1.25 acre while you are waiting for the grass to come through.  I would just reduce numbers by two or three and keep them as you are.

Old Shep

  • Joined Feb 2011
  • North Yorkshire
Re: Advice on how to divide pasture
« Reply #4 on: January 20, 2020, 06:00:32 pm »
If you could possibly split into 3 it would be better and let them have say a week each bit.  The grass roots then have 14 days recovery time.  As said a soil test would be a good idea, or to be honest just take a punt and whack some lime on to kill the moss.

A couple less sheep too would help.  If the remaining cant keep the grass down in  summer and its too steep to top, is there any way of getting them to trample it in just before you move them to the next paddock?
Helen - (used to be just Shep).  Gordon Setters, Border Collies and chief lambing assistant to BigBennyShep.


  • Joined Jul 2018
Re: Advice on how to divide pasture
« Reply #5 on: February 10, 2020, 05:57:38 pm »
Thank you to everyone who gave advice on this. It seems that losing a couple of sheep gets the thumbs up (now, how to tell the children...!). I do potentially have access to some other grazing land (fingers crossed) that I could move them to. So perhaps moving them between pastures long term would be the solution, though the sites are a couple of miles apart.


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