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Author Topic: help with managing pasture  (Read 472 times)

Clarebelle

  • Joined Jan 2013
  • Orkney
help with managing pasture
« on: June 12, 2018, 02:35:42 pm »
I have a very small flock of mixed sheep, ewes and a few lambs, on 2 acres of pasture. The two acres is one field split into four paddocks.
I split the field so that I was able to rotate the grazing, mainly to limit worm burden, so that each quarter has a rest before being grazed again.
In theory this works great, but I find, come this time of year while the sheep are in one area the grass in the others gets so long. I don't have any machinery and don't have anyone who could come and take a cut of silage. My worry is that all the lovely grass in the ungrazed areas is going to waste.
So, should I open the gates and give them free access to the whole field or should I carry on doing what i'm doing? Anyone have any ideas?
Voss Electric Fence

SallyintNorth

  • Joined Feb 2011
  • Cornwall
  • Rarely short of an opinion but I mean well
Re: help with managing pasture
« Reply #1 on: June 12, 2018, 03:38:17 pm »
You'll need more than a handful of sheep with lambs to keep on top of 2 acres in this weather, wherever you are and however you manage it! 

Personally, I would think that at your numbers and stocking density, worms would not be very likely however you manage your paddocks.

Does 'wasting' grass matter?  Will you be short of hay in the winter?  If so, then can you get someone to come and take a cut of hay off for you?  If, on reflection, it doesn't matter, then let them have a lovely time wandering from paddock to paddock in luscious long grass for a couple of months.  It'll soon be short again come autumn ;).

One provisos being that you are very on top of flystrike prevention and watch.  Sheep in long grass would be more able to hide - and hide symptoms - from you ;)

Another option would be to get someone else to bring on some cattle or ponies to follow the sheep.  They'll help with worm control too, as well as helping you make use of the grass.

Or you could get some store lambs to fatten alongside your ewes for the summer.
Don't listen to the money men - they know the price of everything and the value of nothing

Live in a cohousing community with small farm for our own use.  Dairy cow, beef cattle, pigs, sheep for meat and fleece, ducks and hens for eggs, veg and fruit growing

Foobar

  • Joined Mar 2012
  • South Wales
Re: help with managing pasture
« Reply #2 on: June 12, 2018, 04:10:05 pm »
Take one field out of the rotation and buy a scythe :)

Or better still, don't worry about it. Graze each field, half way down, then move onto the next.  Leaving longer residue will mean that the grass will recover quicker and you will not suffer from any drought so much if we have along hot summer (longer leaves = longer roots = able to access moisture (and nutrients) from further down in the soil).

Don't think of it as waste, trampled grass is food for the soil.

To be honest I'd probably divide each paddock again, so you have 8 x 1/4 acres ones.

bj_cardiff

  • Joined Feb 2017
  • Carmarthenshire
Re: help with managing pasture
« Reply #3 on: June 12, 2018, 05:17:28 pm »
I'd open the fields up and let them choose their own grazing

Foobar

  • Joined Mar 2012
  • South Wales
Re: help with managing pasture
« Reply #4 on: June 12, 2018, 05:25:38 pm »
I'd open the fields up and let them choose their own grazing
Which will mean they will just eat their favourite bits down to the ground and leave the rest which will then go stalky and they will never eat it - the end result will be more weeds.  If you want to maintain a healthy balanced mixed pasture, keep them on a rotation. :)

Clarebelle

  • Joined Jan 2013
  • Orkney
Re: help with managing pasture
« Reply #5 on: June 12, 2018, 06:56:07 pm »
Thanks everyone. Unfortunately there is no access to the field for machinery so I can't ask someone to come in and take a cut for me. One day I would love to get a scythe and take a cut myself but just can't afford one at the moment.

Maybe next year i'll get some caddy lambs to fatten up. I'm abit paranoid about worms but to be fair FEC for the last year have been clear, I'm just overly cautious.

I've decided to go for it, opened up all but one paddock, they are having a great time.

bj_cardiff

  • Joined Feb 2017
  • Carmarthenshire
Re: help with managing pasture
« Reply #6 on: June 13, 2018, 08:27:08 am »
I'd open the fields up and let them choose their own grazing
Which will mean they will just eat their favourite bits down to the ground and leave the rest which will then go stalky and they will never eat it - the end result will be more weeds.  If you want to maintain a healthy balanced mixed pasture, keep them on a rotation. :)

I don't see the problem with that, OP was concerned that grass was being wasted, if patches get long and stalky, it can be strimmed. I'd rather patches of tough old grass that no animal will eat than a whole field of it!

macgro7

  • Joined Feb 2016
Re: help with managing pasture
« Reply #7 on: June 13, 2018, 11:49:44 am »
One day I would love to get a scythe and take a cut myself but just can't afford one at the moment.
A scythe costs £30. At least the one I bought.
Growing loads of fruits and vegetables! Raising dairy goats, chickens, ducks, geese rabbits and a little boy on 1/2 acre in the middle of the city of Leicester, using permaculture methods.

Clarebelle

  • Joined Jan 2013
  • Orkney
Re: help with managing pasture
« Reply #8 on: June 13, 2018, 01:07:29 pm »
really? I thought they were expensive, £150 range. Perhaps I will look into it again then. It's certainly something I want to try. I make my own silage in lick buckets cut from my lawn but it would be great to be able to take some hay too. It's almost impossible to buy in forage here for such a small flock as mine

juliem

  • Joined Aug 2014
Re: help with managing pasture
« Reply #9 on: June 13, 2018, 10:09:36 pm »
I've just applied for the countryside stewardship low grazing offer..which basically is more food for the birds and stalks of varying height/with no topping before the end of July..So I've just got to get use to the rather overgrown grass in the fields.(12 acres grazed by 29 ewes and lambs) There is a grant for scrub but I drew the line there and only having my hedges cut every 3 years. Re wilding is the way to go.
Incidentally saw an advisor yesterday as part of the application process from Natural England and he reckoned I did not need a licence to spot spray thistles/nettles .Very confused.

macgro7

  • Joined Feb 2016
Re: help with managing pasture
« Reply #10 on: June 15, 2018, 11:01:03 am »
really? I thought they were expensive, £150 range. Perhaps I will look into it again then. It's certainly something I want to try. I make my own silage in lick buckets cut from my lawn but it would be great to be able to take some hay too. It's almost impossible to buy in forage here for such a small flock as mine
https://rover.ebay.com/rover/0/0/0?mpre=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.ebay.co.uk%2Fulk%2Fitm%2F202331750717
That's the one I have. I use it mostly for nettles and docks so don't worry too much about how sharp it is. For cutting hay you need to sharpen it every 10 minutes. Needs to be like a razor.
But that's it. Much safer, easier and quieter than a strimmer or any hay mower.
Growing loads of fruits and vegetables! Raising dairy goats, chickens, ducks, geese rabbits and a little boy on 1/2 acre in the middle of the city of Leicester, using permaculture methods.

Clarebelle

  • Joined Jan 2013
  • Orkney
Re: help with managing pasture
« Reply #11 on: June 15, 2018, 12:23:39 pm »
Thank you! That looks great, I will have to get one, I would love to be able to take some hay

Anke

  • Joined Dec 2009
  • St Boswells, Scottish Borders
Re: help with managing pasture
« Reply #12 on: June 15, 2018, 12:25:50 pm »

Using a traditional up-right scythe is a skill that needs to be learnt correctly, otherwise you will risk a sore back/shoulders etc.


I use a strimmer/brush cutter on long grass in garden/next to driveway etc, all the places that are tooo rough for the mower and feed it fresh or dried for a few days to the goats. WE don't - at the moment - make it into hay/haylage, as we actually have too many sheep to make it worthwhile (we have to buy in hay anyway).


We just mow our fiels with the flail mower or if too tall with the topper.

 

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