Agri Vehicles Insurance from Greenlands

Author Topic: pasture management - equipment /management recommendations please  (Read 5921 times)

smudger

  • Joined Jan 2012
  • North Devon/ West Exmoor
Hi All


We have 16 acres (at 900ft) and will be cropping late cut haylage for our horses (and sheep) from at least 50% of the land. Its meadow/old pasture, previously grazed by neighbour's sheep. It has been rested for a year whilst we took a 100% crop last summer before livestock introduced in autumn/winter. Land is quite heavy clay, gently sloping northwards with fairly good devon banks/tree shelter. We have a 30hp compact tractor with 3pt linkage.

Density?
We will be rotating pasture/ grazing with our 4 no. horses and 20 sheep (plus followers) with possibility of two house cows on 50% whilst haylage crop taken. Then continue on the aftermath thru autumn/winter. Horses will have restricted turn out in spring (and possibly autumn), so largely the 8 acres will be for the sheep and cattle. Is that ok in terms of stocking density? ie notionally 2 acres for cows and 6 acres x5 = 30 sheep. Does the 5 per acre allow for followers ie we could have 25-30 lambs next year. (gulp, just done that calculation....)

Equipment?
We know we definately we need a roller and a harrow (all that poaching and cutting up by horses, plus the mole hills). Question is what type and how large (field sizes are 2.5-5 acres) ie is a harrow in a frame we can lift up worth the extra money? One field is sort of reclaimed ie dips from an old stream/spreads from a spring in field above which has been diverted still evident. Salesman said a frameless harrow might be better but can't lift these up? Rest of land is fairly "smooth".  Apart from removing the dead thatch, breaking up horse manure and flattening mole hills is primary use.

Do we need a topper and if so what type? Flail or rotary. New, former is 2x price at £2k (been looking on ebay, not much coming up).  Hesitation with topper is if we have horses, sheep and cattle will we really have any roughs that need topped out? There is  a small patch of reeds around the spring, but its so small it can be cut down by hand. However, I know to get a good haylage crop, topping to prevent seeding and encourage a good thick sward is much better than adding fertilizer.  Is it possible to hire toppers if we only use it 1-2 a year? Or get a contractor in? (Contractor cuts our haylage).

Management?

Will I need to lime the land every year or every 2-3 years? I am working on basis that manure from animals will naturally fertilise the land but it does make it more acidic.

Anyone overseeded grass with clover or other grass types to improve instead of applying fertilizer?  Could I use the manure from the horses stables and if so how long to let it rot down before spreading and how long before I could graze land again (especially with horses)?

Anyone recommend soil testing facility/lab in Devon/South west?

Rotation Plan?
My rotation plan is cows (with rams),  then horses, then ewes/lambs - makes sense?  What is optimum time for animals to stay on one section of pasture? My sheep course said 10 days-2 weeks, but 3-4 weeks is what I'm doing at present. Is that too long viz worms and foot rot?

Greatly appreciate advice from real life (and not just books and salesmen!). Head is spinning, so sorry for long post.
Traditional and Rare breed livestock -  Golden Guernsey Goats, Blackmoor Flock Shetland and Lleyn Sheep, Pilgrim Geese and Norfolk Black Turkeys. Capallisky Irish Sport Horse Stud.

lachlanandmarcus

  • Joined Aug 2010
  • Aberdeenshire
Re: pasture management - equipment /management recommendations please
« Reply #1 on: February 11, 2012, 02:33:57 pm »
I will just go for the topper question :-))

Flail topper is invaluable if you have a lot of rough stuff (doesnt sounds as tho you do) but actually more important if the ground is very stony. Reason is the flail is like great big blades, solid things all the way along a horizontal cylinder. It is big and brutish and fairly indestructible, so it copes well with stony ground, which rotary toppers are less keen on.

A normal rotary topper is for flatter, less rough, more pasture like ground without too many stones. Reason is that it IS breakable. To protect it the cheaper toppers have shear bolts which will break if you hit a stone and so stop the mechanism being damaged. If theres too many stones this becomes a constant process of replacing shear bolts so isnt really practical. More costly (£ooos) rotary toppers are more robust but they too can still be damaged by stones.

On bumpy ground a smaller topper might cut the ground in the dips better than a bigger one, which might just sail over the top of the dip!

We use a cheap n cheerful Fleming shear bolted rotary topper for the nice flat hay field and small corners and an ancient 10 foot flail mower for the rest of our very stony rufty tufty ground.

One other word of caution re: flail mowers, they tend to be quite big and very heavy, unless you find a small one then your tractor may not cope too well: our tractor is 75hp and copes ok with the 10ft flail but I wouldnt want anything bigger, and for a 30hp tractor I would  think you would need 5ft or even less, Im not sure how common they are.

In summary it sounds as tho a rotary topper might be sufficient for your pasture but if you can borrow one to try it first that would be ideal as you might find more stones than you thought or some other issue.

smudger

  • Joined Jan 2012
  • North Devon/ West Exmoor
Re: pasture management - equipment /management recommendations please
« Reply #2 on: February 11, 2012, 07:19:34 pm »
Thx lachlanandmarcus. Think rotary will do as we don't have stoney fields and we could possibly strim the dippy bits of the "reclaimed" field if not grazed down by the animals.
Traditional and Rare breed livestock -  Golden Guernsey Goats, Blackmoor Flock Shetland and Lleyn Sheep, Pilgrim Geese and Norfolk Black Turkeys. Capallisky Irish Sport Horse Stud.

old ploughman

  • Joined Jun 2010
Re: pasture management - equipment /management recommendations please
« Reply #3 on: February 11, 2012, 07:36:55 pm »
I dont have horses so cannot speak from experience but I am told that horse manure on your haylage ground will make the resulting crop unpalatable. I stand to be corrected

smudger

  • Joined Jan 2012
  • North Devon/ West Exmoor
Re: pasture management - equipment /management recommendations please
« Reply #4 on: February 12, 2012, 10:10:41 am »
Old Ploughman, there may be something in what you say, in that roughs are created where horses have dunged and don't eat the grass. Maybe the key is in making sure it is well rotted.  I will post a query in Equine forum I think.  I just have too much manure for our vegetable patch.  Plus I have decided not to poo pick (except when on restrticted grazing paddock) and will harrow/ cross fertilise, so the grass itself will actually have "fresher" manure.  I found this useul document when trying to find something about what you have mentioned:

http:// www.kentdowns.org.uk/ PDF/ HorsemanagementKENT.pdf  (remove spaces)
Traditional and Rare breed livestock -  Golden Guernsey Goats, Blackmoor Flock Shetland and Lleyn Sheep, Pilgrim Geese and Norfolk Black Turkeys. Capallisky Irish Sport Horse Stud.

lachlanandmarcus

  • Joined Aug 2010
  • Aberdeenshire
Re: pasture management - equipment /management recommendations please
« Reply #5 on: February 12, 2012, 11:13:05 am »
Ideally the ground the horses are on would be poo picked. Horse manure is safe to spread on horse ground if very well rotted ie once it is compost, but not good in the lumps of dung they leave as they will take a long time to rot, encourage rank rough grasses and the horses will not eat near them and also will then just continue spreading the area they dung gradually bigger and bigger.And def not good from a horse worm perspective. It ideally needs to be removed and stacked in a muck heap for at least a year. At that point the heat in the heap will have got rid of most of the bugs and it's safe to be spread back on the ground.

Some people do harrow in fresh manure into a paddock being rested, but while that works well in hot climates (worms are exposed to the sun and die), I have never been convinced that it is very effective worm wise in this country, as temperates on average are really not hot enough to have the desired effect. However it would work to get the grass less patchy.

 

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