Smallholders Insurance from Greenlands

Author Topic: Grazing and lambs  (Read 2226 times)


  • Joined Jun 2012
  • Norfolk
Grazing and lambs
« on: May 19, 2013, 02:54:25 pm »
As we speak the paddock is being cut.  The lambs are only 3 weeks old and nibbling the grass, guzzling milk but not really interested in the lamb creep.  The grass (wildflowers etc too) is growing at a rapid rate and by the time the lambs will be grazing it would have been way too high - I think, hence cutting it.  My questions are:

1. Do you just leave the grass to grow or give it a 'first cut' before your animals graze on it.
2. I kind of know a bit about what lush grass is, but when does it stop being lush (sorry if that's a stupid question!) i.e. when can the lambs just eat the grass and not hay/nuts.  We gave last years lambs a mouthful of nuts every nut to keep them friendly but other than that they were on grass.
3. Last year's sheep were nowhere near keeping on top of the grass, is it unrealistic to expect 2 sheep to keep on top of 1/3 acre paddock?
4. Theoretically as rumen animals would all the above apply to the goats too who have access to their paddock all year?  I say theoretically because they show interest no in the grass whatsoever!
« Last Edit: May 19, 2013, 04:17:44 pm by Bumblebear »


  • Joined Apr 2013
  • Queensland, Australia
Re: Grazing and lambs
« Reply #1 on: May 19, 2013, 03:09:54 pm »
My reply may not be too useful because most of Australia's not known for having problematically lush grass... ;)

Anyhow, my two cent's worth:

Goats are classified in the feeding category of browsers, not grazers like most cows and horses. Some sheep breeds are grazers, others browsers, which may be why your sheep didn't keep on top of the grass. As far as I know, dorpers and boers are two of the goat and sheep breeds most reliably grazed, both being heavy-production meat breeds so more likely to eat the richest source of feed possible. Older, heritage breeds are more likely to be browsers whose main interest/diet staple is naturally leaves, buds, bark, twigs, roots, weeds, herbs, etc rather than plain grass, especially the popular modern agricultural breeds and strains of grass.

Knowing what breeds of goat and sheep you have, as well as what environment their recent ancestors were raised in, would answer your questions pretty reliably.


  • Joined Oct 2011
Re: Grazing and lambs
« Reply #2 on: May 19, 2013, 03:23:52 pm »
I don't think 1/3 of an acre is enough for 2 sheep, esp if its a dry year. There was lots of grass last year, but it was all water and no goodness


  • Joined Jun 2012
  • Norfolk
Re: Grazing and lambs
« Reply #3 on: May 19, 2013, 04:10:05 pm »
Thank you both.  The lambs we have are a commercial lamb only kept for the freezer, so with us for a max of 5 months.  The goats are BAs and the sheep are texel crosses this year and were Llyens last year.  I know our goats are browsers but I was just curious as to whether the same principle re. sheeps would apply theorectically, rather than in practice as my goats have no intention to graze! lol

Buffy the eggs layer

  • Joined Jun 2010
Re: Grazing and lambs
« Reply #4 on: May 20, 2013, 09:43:22 am »
  the ewes milk production peaks at around 3 weeks so the lambs would not be eating creap at this stage. Over the next few weeks the lambs will start to nibble at grass and hay and this will develop the rumen. By about 5 weeks or so they will start to show more interest in concentrates especially if its something platable such as a little coarse mix and lamb creep or if they watch their mums eating feed.
In terms of the grazing at this time of year my grass comes through at a rate which is greater than my ewes ability to get through it and as they tend to prefer shorter grass then the longer it gets, the longer it gets left. I borrow a couple of cows from a friend to eat it down as their manure also feeds it.
If you are concerned about the nutritional value of your grass then a tub of lick can be useful. The commercial breeds seem to do best on the short term leys but if thats not practical for you then topping up with finisher pellets as the grass reduces in the autumn and you prepare them for slaughter will probably give you a satisfactory carcass.


  • Joined Aug 2011
Re: Grazing and lambs
« Reply #5 on: May 21, 2013, 03:17:23 pm »
If there is plenty of grass, I can see no reason for creep feeding lambs at all. If it is very long you may wish to top it as grass under 6ins in length is the easiest for sheep to digest.


  • Joined Aug 2010
  • Aberdeenshire
Re: Grazing and lambs
« Reply #6 on: May 21, 2013, 03:19:32 pm »
Ive never fed creep feed to any of my shetlands, reckon they would die of shock if they were given any, tho appreciate it is different for more commercial types.


  • Joined Aug 2011
Re: Grazing and lambs
« Reply #7 on: May 21, 2013, 03:37:30 pm »
Ive never fed creep feed to any of my shetlands, reckon they would die of shock if they were given any, tho appreciate it is different for more commercial types.

Mine are fairly commercial types - never fed lambs concs before weaning, and only then when grass is in short supply.


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