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Author Topic: advice sought re improving grazing for sheep  (Read 8555 times)

countrygirlatheart

  • Joined Apr 2008
advice sought re improving grazing for sheep
« on: May 16, 2009, 08:31:12 pm »
The background ....

Field used for silage production by Farmer for many years before our purchase, believe its been nitrogen fertilised every year.  Last year 2nd cut silage was VERY late (might even have been near the end of September - would need to check diary) due to constant rain for months, very little regrowth before our sheep went on (they had to get hay early on), ground very wet through winter, field rested Jan - March, sheep back on in March, growth very slow in coming through and is still pretty rubbish.  The sward is quite 'open' and there are a few more or less dead areas and grass generally sparse.  Only 6 adult sheep and 6 lambs on just under 5 acres so presumably not overstocked.  Sheep getting concentrates.  Tup lambs about to go so will only be 6 adults and 2 ewe lambs over the summer.

Where do I start?

Soil analysis - how exactly do you do this, who does the analysis, how much does it cost
Is it too late to harrow now?  (when it should have been harrowed around March it was too wet and its now dried out probably too much!)
Should I fertilise just now?  what with?
Can I overseed just now?  or is it too late and I'll need to wait to autumn
Should I just fling on some white clover seed and hope that some of that takes?

If no-one on the forum knows the answers who do you go to for advice - farmers/vets/agronomist/consultant etc ??

Any advice welcome ...... I've procrastinated long enough  !!!    thanks
Voss Electric Fence

hexhammeasure

  • Joined Jun 2008
    • golocal food
    • Facebook
Re: advice sought re improving grazing for sheep
« Reply #1 on: May 16, 2009, 11:29:23 pm »
harrowing is dictated by the ground too soft and it will get damaged by the tractor, too hard and it wont do much raking. if the grass is still short and has clumps and thatch then go for it. if there is a lot of bare soil then reseedbut timing is getting late, if you have collected your hayseed from under your hayheck then sprinkle this on. If it doesn't take it hasn't cost you much. I wouldn't bother putting fertiliser on this year unless you want to take a crop off. fertiliser is way too expensive this year. Patience may well stand you in good stead. the ground temperature has been low for a lot longer this year. I doubt I will get my hay in till late july this year, normally its june.

Ian

countrygirlatheart

  • Joined Apr 2008
Re: advice sought re improving grazing for sheep
« Reply #2 on: May 17, 2009, 08:50:10 pm »
thanks for the reply Ian, much appreciated

Rosemary

  • Joined Oct 2007
  • Barry, Angus, Scotland
    • The Accidental Smallholder
Re: advice sought re improving grazing for sheep
« Reply #3 on: May 18, 2009, 08:55:23 pm »
Oatrigde College is running a day course on grassland management during June for Central SCotland Smallholders Association. Further information will be on the website this week.

countrygirlatheart

  • Joined Apr 2008
Re: advice sought re improving grazing for sheep
« Reply #4 on: May 20, 2009, 08:59:34 pm »
Great!  thanks Rosemary

garden cottage

  • Joined Sep 2008
  • forest of dean
Re: advice sought re improving grazing for sheep
« Reply #5 on: May 21, 2009, 06:18:00 am »
was it grazed down short before the winter, we found if its left to long you get to much dead grass following year inhibits new growth, if you have got large areas of dead grass would it pay to put in topper to encourage new growth? ::) :cow:

countrygirlatheart

  • Joined Apr 2008
Re: advice sought re improving grazing for sheep
« Reply #6 on: May 21, 2009, 09:19:53 pm »
hi garden cottage!

thanks for your reply       unfortunately it was the opposite, very little new growth had come through after very late 2nd cut silage last year  before sheep went on and it has been pretty 'naked' from then on until just recently

woollyval

  • Joined Feb 2008
  • Near Bodmin, Cornwall
    • Val Grainger
Re: advice sought re improving grazing for sheep
« Reply #7 on: May 26, 2009, 09:12:01 pm »
Right, what I would do is just graze it with sheep....it will recover! Sheep are magical in their ability to restore pasture if not overstocked on it! I have spent years improving land with sheep and (actually have a qualification in landscape conservation sssh!)
They mow it, fertilise it and.....their feet are like little harrows and rollers going over it.......So unless it is all bare soil just let the sheep do the work. To give a boost buy a couple of bales of locally made preferably very local early meadow/species rich hay ( with all the seeds still there)and rather than keep it for the winter shake it out all over your field. The seeds will grow and its like reseeding without the hassel......and the sheep can stay in!
www.smallholdinginsomerset.blogspot.com
www.valgrainger.co.uk

Overall winner of the Devon Environmental Business Awards 2009

countrygirlatheart

  • Joined Apr 2008
Re: advice sought re improving grazing for sheep
« Reply #8 on: May 27, 2009, 06:44:10 pm »
thanks for the tips woolly       It is improving gradually       I was more worried about weeds taking over the bare bits    There is already a fine scattering all over it of what looks like chickweed and another little weed I haven't been able to identify (very fine dark brown stalk, tiny little needle like leaves and tiny white flowers)   Just today had a chap come over who is recommending overseeding it with white clover mixed with some ryegrass and another chap locally has a fandabidozee machine that scratches the surface and spreads the seed at the same time.  Waiting for a final cost before deciding!    Have also had a recommendation that liming it will help - this would be expensive tho at about £260 for the 5 acres.  I'm told that the liming could be done at any time, so if I go for it will probably do it 'at the back end' when the sheep move on to rented winter grazing.

thanks again for your help, always enjoy reading your comments on the forum

CarraghsBorderCollies

  • Joined Jun 2009
Re: advice sought re improving grazing for sheep
« Reply #9 on: June 18, 2009, 08:03:56 pm »
it might help to add a goat to the mix (i recommend a neutered male), they tend to eat a lot of the thorny stuff that sheep will just eat around therefore clearing the way for better grass to come through!
GEM. X

countrygirlatheart

  • Joined Apr 2008
Re: advice sought re improving grazing for sheep
« Reply #10 on: June 18, 2009, 09:13:00 pm »
thanks for the reply CBC

Tullywood Farm

  • Guest
Re: advice sought re improving grazing for sheep
« Reply #11 on: July 09, 2009, 11:16:29 pm »
Hi
A couple of things that I have found to improve all my ground is topping and more importantly clover seed this take the natural Nitrogen from the air and puts it in the ground which helps the grass grow as does the topping just think about any lawn once you start mowing you have to keep mowing as it seems to grow faster than you can cut it.
I use a Zicklebar mower for topping its like an old finger bar mower but with its own engine all you have to do is walk behind it and steer.
I also top about 5 acres I can do 1 acre with it in 1.5 hours but remember you are only doing what the sheep are leaving so it is actually much faster than that.
Also with the clover seed you will never need to use Bagged fertilizer like your previous land owner as the natural nitrogen doesn't wash into every river and stream it stays in the roots nodules where it can be put to good use.
I hope this helps if you want any info on my mower just ask.
Kind regards
Joe

countrygirlatheart

  • Joined Apr 2008
Re: advice sought re improving grazing for sheep
« Reply #12 on: July 11, 2009, 01:08:28 pm »
Hi Joe

thanks for the info, especiallly the guide on how long it takes to do an acre, that's a hard one to have a guess at.   Was thinking about asking the neighbouring farmer if he could top it when the ground is dry.    Re the tractor equipment - are mowers and toppers the same thing?

Tullywood Farm

  • Guest
Re: advice sought re improving grazing for sheep
« Reply #13 on: July 12, 2009, 05:57:32 pm »
Hi,
The answer to that is no.
A mower will mow so that their is no grass left or at the very least it will be very very short.
A topper on the other hand is designed to leave the grass about 4 inches long and cut down everything else above that level.
So the best thing to do is top and this will leave feed for the sheep but clean up the fields at the same time.
Hope this clears up the difference's between the two.
kind regards
Joe

P.S 

Some people do top with mowers I just think it leaves the grass too short!.

countrygirlatheart

  • Joined Apr 2008
Re: advice sought re improving grazing for sheep
« Reply #14 on: July 14, 2009, 08:16:23 pm »
thanks again Joe         would only want it topped so good to know the difference so the farmer doesnt scalp it because I've asked for the wrong thing!

 

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