NFU Mutual Smallholding Insurance

Author Topic: how many paddocks?  (Read 1336 times)


  • Joined Jan 2012
  • Devon
how many paddocks?
« on: October 20, 2017, 10:33:05 am »

Another post appears to be concluding that four paddocks is marginal even for a small flock because you end up with 3 groups: boys, girls and lambs, meaning you can only rest one paddock at a time.  Grazing and worm management advice seems to say you should move your sheep as often as you can and rest paddocks for as long as possible. 
Taken to the extreme that would mean you had an infinite number of tiny paddocks and move your 3 flocks every day.

Does anyone have opinions on how many paddocks is too many and how small is too small and why?
Never ever give up.
Voss Electric Fence


  • Joined Oct 2010
Re: how many paddocks?
« Reply #1 on: October 20, 2017, 11:04:28 am »
And in a perfect world, with a standard climate, standard soil and standard sheep - how long is a piece of string? :innocent:
Rules are made:
  for the guidance of wise men
  and the obedience of fools.


  • Joined Feb 2017
  • Carmarthenshire
Re: how many paddocks?
« Reply #2 on: October 20, 2017, 11:10:45 am »
I think its all about management and what suits you, minimally 2 fields is enough for me, although if I need 3 if I keep any ewe lambs back

Ewes live on their own after weaning lambs, Rams live with lambs.
Rams move in with ewes for tupping lambs all together
Ewe lambs move in with Ewes and Rams and Ram lambs together
when all lambs have been sold the rams go back in with the ewes for the rest of the winter, while they lamb and until weaning


  • Joined Mar 2012
  • South Wales
Re: how many paddocks?
« Reply #3 on: October 20, 2017, 11:47:57 am »
Its all to do with how well your grass grows, what sort of grass it is, what your weather is like, how many sheep you have (or want to have) etc etc

If you want to get the most out of your grass then do mob grazing - lots of small paddocks moved very regularly.  If you don't then .... do whatever suits your management scheme.

For me, I'm looking to set up a minimum of 8 paddocks.  You will need a lot of paddocks if you want to maintain a 3-flock flock all year round.


  • Joined May 2010
  • South Lanarkshire
    • Wester Gladstone Hebridean Sheep
Re: how many paddocks?
« Reply #4 on: October 20, 2017, 11:52:35 am »
We went down the several smaller paddock route when we kept a number of different breeds, and more than one tup per breed.  So the reason for all the smaller paddocks was mostly just for tupping time.  Across the road we have two separate bits and the males of all ages, stock tups and younger males, all live over there from 4 months, except when tupping.
On the main patch, we had 7 subdivided bits, some quite small, some larger.  This gave us room to have all the non-breeding ewes of all ages in one large area, then 6 small paddocks for tupping groups.  It was never enough  ::) .
When we had larger sheep numbers, we rotated the ewes round all those paddocks, moving them on when they all stood at the gate and shouted.  This equated to when the grass was well eaten down so was good enough for me.  In the winter all the gates would be left open and the sheep went where they wanted to, except in areas of growing hay.
Now we have far fewer sheep and a single tup this year. We have taken down one dividing fence and set aside the hay aftermath for the tupping group.  The rest can wander around the other paddocks.

I appreciate that you are dividing for worm control.  By keeping our stocking rate low and running a virtually closed flock, with dosing and 4 week quarantine for any stock brought on, we have a minimal worm problem.  We worm if we see a scoury animal, and once a year the whole flock gets done. Our Fecs are very low.

So in our circumstances we get good parasite control by keeping the stocking rate down, rather than rotation of paddocks.  We keep a close eye on our stock and would change our system if problems arose.

For paddock size, ours vary from 2 acres to about 1/4 of an acre.  The larger areas can cope with a tractor and implements, but the smaller ones are difficult to get machinery into.  We need a variety of paddock sizes for our particular circumstances.
I don't think there is any standard ideal size or number of paddocks as it all depends on your stock numbers, your acreage, your ground quality, your management methods and any number of other considerations.

In other words, I agree with what the others have said  ;D
« Last Edit: October 20, 2017, 11:55:41 am by Fleecewife »

Do something today that your future self will thank you for - plant a tree

Draco dormiens nunquam titillandus - let sleeping dragons lie

Marches Farmer

  • Joined Dec 2012
  • Herefordshire
Re: how many paddocks?
« Reply #5 on: October 20, 2017, 12:54:30 pm »
A bit like you can never have too many sheep hurdles or too much baler twine, you can never have too many paddocks.  It's not just the worm burden but also that lots of sheep on a small area mean it can get very mucky very quickly, especially in Winter. 


  • Joined Jul 2013
Re: how many paddocks?
« Reply #6 on: October 20, 2017, 06:09:00 pm »
I think on a smaller amount of land its easier to just borrow or if you can't borrow, hire a ram! That way you only worry about lambs and ewes and its so much easier. The other option a lot of smallholders I know do is to have a small ram paddock and they feed the rams all year round. You have to see what system works best for you :) A lot of commercial farmers put ewe lambs to the ram too... depends on what breed you have of course! :) :hshoe:


  • Joined Nov 2013
  • Cambridgeshire
Re: how many paddocks?
« Reply #7 on: October 20, 2017, 07:58:50 pm »
Always 1 more than I have!  Every time I create a new one I find 2 purposes for it. Ho hum.  For example once you have 2 rams then a field each for tupping, a field for the ones not being tupped another one or two for rotation.  Where are we?  Ah five.


  • Joined Jan 2012
  • Devon
Re: how many paddocks?
« Reply #8 on: October 22, 2017, 01:20:31 pm »
Thanks all,  I'm with pharnorth in that I can always justify splitting a paddock, I was just wondering if that urge would ever go away or if, having split them all I would then go around taking fences out.  I heard  somewhere that you need 11 patches but I don't know why.
Never ever give up.


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