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Author Topic: Grass going to seed  (Read 1915 times)


  • Joined Jun 2012
  • Spalding
    • Six Oaks
    • Facebook
Grass going to seed
« on: June 10, 2017, 03:03:49 pm »
Me again.

How do i stop my grass going to seed?

We have 1.5 acres split into 5 areas where we are doing rotational grazing. This worked well over winter but now the grass is going to seed in the areas the sheep haven't been in. My husband is about to try to mow it. Is there anything we can do to prevent this in future or is it just a case of  regular topping and what height should this be done at?

We have geese who can follow the sheep but they don't do well on long grass either. Is there any livestock other than cows that would eat long grass?

We are currently moving with a petrol mower. If its a case of regular topping can anyone recommend equipment for  the task.


9 sheep, 24 chickens, 3 cats, a toddler and a baby on the way
Voss Electric Fence


  • Global Moderator
  • Joined Sep 2012
  • Llandeilo Carmarthenshire
    • Nantygroes
    • Facebook
Re: Grass going to seed
« Reply #1 on: June 11, 2017, 08:11:12 am »
Topping is the only real answer ....  all paddocks do better if topped regardless of what grazed it.  If you top leaving it long enough for sheep to graze (2 inches) it will encourage grass growth and reduce weeds.

  If this is likely to be an annual 'problem'  .... most farmers/larger smallholders will make hay/haylage out of some paddocks each summer.

Do you have a Quad?  you can get toppers and mowers for a quad. We use a flail mower to top ours ... great for reducing rushes

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  • Joined Dec 2012
Re: Grass going to seed
« Reply #2 on: June 11, 2017, 11:33:09 am »
We have resorted to an old Kubota compact tractor and topped this . It has made life so much easier. Covered most of the area to be cut in a few hours, once I got the hang of it. A good investment. Have topped on paddock and put the sheep on a week later and they are looking very content


  • Joined Jun 2012
  • Spalding
    • Six Oaks
    • Facebook
Re: Grass going to seed
« Reply #3 on: June 11, 2017, 12:14:32 pm »
Argh looked at some kind of tractor to pull a topper and I am absolutely lost. Last year we had a guy come and do our 1 acre field but then it was split into a 0.4 acre area and 0.6 acre area. We're not nearly as tall at the moment (you couldn't see the sheep for the grass!) and I think a much smaller tractor or even two wheeled tractor would do the job for us better, with lots of small areas and gates to go through. I think it was a faff for him raising and lowering the mower through the gates and hard to get into the corners.

But what do we get? A small tractor? A 2 wheel tractor? A quad bike? Or attachments to pull along with our 4x4? We don't have much land (or storage space) and do have small areas to work with (0.2 acres and up).


9 sheep, 24 chickens, 3 cats, a toddler and a baby on the way


  • Joined Jul 2011
Re: Grass going to seed
« Reply #4 on: June 11, 2017, 12:32:50 pm »
It always comes down to budget. In reality 1.5 acres isn't a lot. I've got more than that just as lawn..
What you want is something easy and small enough to get into corners and edges. Tractors are fun but overkill on that size area and mid deck mowers don't get into corners easily. I use a front mulching deck ride-on for the lawns and under trees, fence edges etc and still have to finish difficult bits with a strimmer.
My parents place has 1/2 acre grass and they used to do that with a self propelled walk behind job - tedious but good excercise 'cos it wasn't very wide.


  • Joined May 2010
  • South Lanarkshire
    • Wester Gladstone Hebridean Sheep
Re: Grass going to seed
« Reply #5 on: June 11, 2017, 03:24:45 pm »
There's a thing called an Allen Scythe, which has a cutter bar like on a combine, low down at the front.  You walk along behind it and it will cut just about anything, including brambles.  There are old ones on ebay, but many are not in working condition, so I would avoid them.  New ones are available - from a brief search I saw some for about £700 and others for about £1,500, and all points between.  I don't know though how high the cutter bar can be raised.  When we top our pastures (with a tractor driven topper) we cut the grass to about 4"  This is fine for primitives.  It sounds quite an outlay, but it would soon pay for itself in better pasture, and not having to pay someone else to do it for you.  Also it will be light on the ground so not compact the soil as a full sized tractor does.    By buying a new machine it will work for you for many years as long as you maintain it.
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« Last Edit: June 11, 2017, 03:26:30 pm by Fleecewife »

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  • Joined Jun 2017
Re: Grass going to seed
« Reply #6 on: June 11, 2017, 05:37:14 pm »
I have about 3.5 acres and only a couple of ponies that aren't allowed grass in spring, summer or early autumn, and I'm down to 2 ewes (old, one is on its way out, in fact) so can relate to your problem.

However. 1.5 acres is so little. I wouldn't buy any kind of machinery for it. I'd do one of two things. Either, I'd rotate it all a bit quicker (or not at all...older ewes are less likely to need as much worming and you can do fecal counts on them anyway) or I'd use an Austrian scythe on the paddocks I wanted topping.

I mow all my weeds with a hand-held scythe rather than bother getting out the petrol-powered, noisy horrible trimmer. Here is what I did in less than an hour. Where it is shady is where there used to be weeds up to my head. Where it is sunny is what I did after I took the photo.

My scythe cost me just over £100. I love it. I use it all the time:

Having said that, topping was necessary in my field this year and last due to the lack of sheep. It's okay, but if you don't do something about the rows of mown grass on the remaining grass, it kills it. I wouldn't want to mow 3.5 acres with a scythe but I'd do a fair amount of it before I'd shell out money on machinery that then needs as much upping as the darn grass!

Tell your sheep they need to eat more, LOL!

« Last Edit: June 11, 2017, 06:26:52 pm by Marti615 »


  • Joined Feb 2017
  • Carmarthenshire
Re: Grass going to seed
« Reply #7 on: June 11, 2017, 08:39:37 pm »
I wouldn't worry about it at all. It'd grow faster if you topped, but it still grows if you leave the seed heads. I have the sheep on about 16 acres and they go to seed every year, the sheep just eat around the flower/seed stem. The only fields that never go to seed are the horses fields, they eat he grass and stem!


  • Joined Feb 2011
Re: Grass going to seed
« Reply #8 on: June 18, 2017, 07:15:48 pm »
Hi Dans- don't worry about it going to seed. Castlemilks will eat the seeding heads and long grass...I have plenty! Eventually your flock of 12(?) will get on top of it over the autumn and winter. Just call it 'standing hay' or foggage if anyone tells you it looks untidy!


  • Joined Mar 2012
  • South Wales
Re: Grass going to seed
« Reply #9 on: June 19, 2017, 01:44:41 pm »
Scythe for areas that small, unless you can get a cheap quad and tow-behind topper (and have somewhere to store it).  Or just let it go to seed :) - it will all get trampled back in eventually (ie good for soil) and the seed will keep the pasture fresh, and it's good for the wildlife.


  • Joined Feb 2011
Re: Grass going to seed
« Reply #10 on: June 19, 2017, 06:50:17 pm »
If anyone is thinking about a powered scythe bar mower then go for quality. I have a BCS Tracmaster power scythe which is superb in ease of use and build quality. I use it to cut paths in our wild meadow garden. Pricey but you can sometimes pick up 2nd-hand ones. I did have an Al-Ko which was a waste of £700 as it was mashed in 2 years.


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