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Author Topic: Soay sheep and brambles  (Read 3775 times)

DrMunns

  • Joined Dec 2016
Soay sheep and brambles
« on: July 25, 2019, 11:03:00 pm »
I'm currently having a "discussion" with my business partner about the best way to clear some rough ground. It's about 5 foot high with bramble, nettle and cow parsley. I want to put some goats on to clear it, he wants to use Soay sheep. Will they clear it? I dont think they will hit I've only ever worked with Mules and other lowland sheep in the past

Fleecewife

  • Joined May 2010
  • South Lanarkshire
    • ScotHebs
Re: Soay sheep and brambles
« Reply #1 on: July 26, 2019, 12:00:47 am »
The problem with having brambles in the mix is that the Soay would become entangled.  All sheep react in the same way when that happens - they don't try to escape but just stand there til they die (That is why I say that brambles are carnivorous - they get a free feed)  I have heard of this happening in brambly woodland, I have also seen sheep getting stuck in gorse and dying, or getting free when someone approaches and they think to struggle.  Even if they didn't get stuck, I very much doubt Soay could clear the area. They do like browse but not brambles.  They would eat the nettle tips and seeds, but they certainly could not exterminate it.   Pigs might have a better chance.
"Let's not talk about what we can do, but do what we can"

There is NO planet B - what are YOU doing to save our home?

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

 Love your soil - it's the lifeblood of your land.

SallyintNorth

  • Joined Feb 2011
  • Cornwall
  • Rarely short of an opinion but I mean well
    • Trelay Cohousing Community
Re: Soay sheep and brambles
« Reply #2 on: July 26, 2019, 01:00:54 am »
Yup, dangerous for sheep, they will become entangled and die if you donít find and free them.  Fleecewife has kept Soay, so if she thinks they wonít be any more sensible in this regard than other sheep, Iíd listen to her! 

Goats might work but Iíd want to hear that from goat people. 

Pigs would probably do it over time.  Iíve had pigs clear fairly overgrown patches.  They donít like thorns though, so if itís really dense bramble, Iím not sure.   Others whoíve had more pigs than I may know more.
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 cows (rearing their own calves for beef), pigs, sheep for meat and fleece, ducks and hens for eggs, veg and fruit growing

Anke

  • Joined Dec 2009
  • St Boswells, Scottish Borders
Re: Soay sheep and brambles
« Reply #3 on: July 26, 2019, 09:30:23 am »
Goats would work, as long as you also have shelter (they hate rain) and hay to feed overnight. They will also need fresh water twice daily, more so than sheep. My sheep drink rarely, even in this heat, but the goats empty three buckets a day each! I also wouldn't use milkers (or goats with udders) - thorns can do real damage to udders. But a gang of wethers - preferably Boer types will get it cleared for you and you would have an end product if you don't want to keep goats once ground is cleared. But you will be hooked by then....
However all perennial weeds will return unless you keep grazing the land afterwards...

macgro7

  • Joined Feb 2016
  • Leicester
Re: Soay sheep and brambles
« Reply #4 on: July 26, 2019, 03:34:41 pm »
My goats were fed almost only brambles and ivy for 1.5 years. That s their favourite food!
Growing loads of fruits and vegetables! Raising dairy goats, chickens, ducks, rabbits on 1/2 acre in the middle of the city of Leicester, using permaculture methods.

DrMunns

  • Joined Dec 2016
Re: Soay sheep and brambles
« Reply #5 on: July 26, 2019, 08:34:12 pm »
I knew sheep were a bad idea, doesn't surprise me they would just get tangled and die since they only have two ambitions in life; get out and die! (I'm not a sheep man at all!). I was planning on running pigs after the goats to get the roots out. It was a toss up between Boer wethers and milkers as I plan on getting some milkers once the site is clear.

fsmnutter

  • Joined Oct 2012
  • Fettercairn, Aberdeenshire
Re: Soay sheep and brambles
« Reply #6 on: July 26, 2019, 08:51:41 pm »
My kune kune pigs have been living on an area of woodland that had been felled and left to overgrow. There were brambles etc taller than me, and they've cleared it beautifully! They're still working on rooting up the tree stumps but are having a good go, many are loose now! Also it's pretty easy to work a bit of a path through the overgrowth to lay electric fencing to gradually expand the bit they're clearing, as pigs only need a couple of strands up to about knee height, where sheep and goats need more robust fencing.
I definitely wouldn't recommend sheep (I've had hebrideans tangled in far less), nor goats (in my experience they'll really pick and choose what they want to eat - my grass is good just now so the weeds- thistles, nettles, docks- are really growing in the goat field!)
Just going by my experience, I would recommend pigs for clearing that area.

Fleecewife

  • Joined May 2010
  • South Lanarkshire
    • ScotHebs
Re: Soay sheep and brambles
« Reply #7 on: July 27, 2019, 01:26:48 am »
I knew sheep were a bad idea, doesn't surprise me they would just get tangled and die since they only have two ambitions in life; get out and die! (I'm not a sheep man at all!).


I can tell  :innocent: .  That old chestnut just isn't true.  Sheep are prey animals so their ambition in life is to survive.  Who are their predators?  In this case US!  Sheep, and other prey animals, will hide their pain or sickness until their last gasp, so to an unobservant shepherd they might appear to die without warning.  An observant shepherd will have spotted the subtle signs of sickness early and will have sought treatment for the sheep in time.  As for escaping - yes if there is a holey fence and better grass on the other side sheep, not being stupid, will go through the hole to get to the better grass, or a tup will go to meet a ewe on the other side. The only time we get escapers is from the rounding up pen on abattoir day when jumping out and scarpering would seem to be eminently sensible  ;D   We had a Soay ewe who did that for three years in a row, until we gave up and let her be  ::)
As for getting stuck in the brambles, I think they are just being fatalistic - they've been caught so why fight it.  Have you ever been caught in brambles?  It's decidedly difficult to get out, even with the use of two extra limbs plus hands.  Brambles twist around the fleece and may need for the fleece to be cut off to rescue the sheep.  :hugsheep:
« Last Edit: July 27, 2019, 01:32:18 am by Fleecewife »
"Let's not talk about what we can do, but do what we can"

There is NO planet B - what are YOU doing to save our home?

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

 Love your soil - it's the lifeblood of your land.

Penninehillbilly

  • Joined Sep 2011
  • West Yorks
Re: Soay sheep and brambles
« Reply #8 on: July 27, 2019, 01:27:28 pm »
None milking goats may help, (Miller's are likey to scratch and cut udders),  but could take years, only taking green shoots off.
If possible slash/mow area? Then either sheep or goats would keep nibbling new growth, broad leaved plants should die off at that.


Edited, I should have read Ankes post better, but I'll leave mine in anyway  :)
« Last Edit: July 27, 2019, 01:30:50 pm by Penninehillbilly »

macgro7

  • Joined Feb 2016
  • Leicester
Re: Soay sheep and brambles
« Reply #9 on: July 27, 2019, 02:21:26 pm »
None milking goats may help, (Miller's are likey to scratch and cut udders),  but could take years, only taking green shoots off.
If possible slash/mow area? Then either sheep or goats would keep nibbling new growth, broad leaved plants should die off at that.


Edited, I should have read Ankes post better, but I'll leave mine in anyway  :)
Yes that what I was doing. Goats were eating bramble leaves then I was cutting the bare branches with lopperso they have access to a new section.
They will keep growing back for about three years if continuesly grazed. If grazed only once in a while they will keep growing back forever! Realistically it will be cheaper and much faster for you to buy a machete or if it's a really large area hire someone with a flail mower.
Growing loads of fruits and vegetables! Raising dairy goats, chickens, ducks, rabbits on 1/2 acre in the middle of the city of Leicester, using permaculture methods.

DrMunns

  • Joined Dec 2016
Re: Soay sheep and brambles
« Reply #10 on: July 27, 2019, 10:31:22 pm »
None milking goats may help, (Miller's are likey to scratch and cut udders),  but could take years, only taking green shoots off.
If possible slash/mow area? Then either sheep or goats would keep nibbling new growth, broad leaved plants should die off at that.


Edited, I should have read Ankes post better, but I'll leave mine in anyway  :)
Yes that what I was doing. Goats were eating bramble leaves then I was cutting the bare branches with lopperso they have access to a new section.
They will keep growing back for about three years if continuesly grazed. If grazed only once in a while they will keep growing back forever! Realistically it will be cheaper and much faster for you to buy a machete or if it's a really large area hire someone with a flail mower.

Its half an acre and I have done it by hand in the past, but I'm not a young man anymore lol. The site is too steep to get a tractor on unfortunately. Guess I'll just have to struggle on

 

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