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Author Topic: How long in one field?  (Read 3931 times)


  • Joined Apr 2012
  • Moray
How long in one field?
« on: April 28, 2012, 08:28:02 am »

  this is my first ever question about keeping sheep, so if it sounds a bit stupid, please forgive me :)

  If I had 15 or so sheep (possibly something like Icelandic or Coloured Ryeland) on 2 acres of land, how long could they graze there before I should move them to a new patch of land?  Can sheep share a paddock with horses, or is that asking for trouble?  Ideally, I wouldn't want to be feeding them concentrate unless absolutely necessary.

  Any advice would be great, thanks...



  • Joined Oct 2007
  • Barry, Angus, Scotland
    • The Accidental Smallholder
Re: How long in one field?
« Reply #1 on: April 28, 2012, 11:05:24 am »
Stocking rates is always a guideline but 5 ewes to the acre is what's usually quoted for medoum sized ewes on good grass. The total area is best divided up and stock rotated round it. I try to do a month and move, over the summer, then let them stay on one paddock during the winter with hay supplement, lick and a bit of hard feed at tupping then in the run up to lambing. We have pretty free draining soil, so poaching isn't too much of an issue.

I graze adult sheep with my ponies and they're all fine but I have heard stories of ponies killing sheep, especially lambs.

The best book for new sheep keepers is "The Sheep Book for Smallholders" by Tim Tyne. There's also some articles on the TAS website - click on the LIVESTOCK buton at the top of the page.


  • Joined Dec 2011
Re: How long in one field?
« Reply #2 on: April 28, 2012, 12:45:41 pm »
I've never rotated my stock previously and never had problems, have just wormed them regularly.  This year I have more sheep so have divided up paddocks.  Mine will stay where they are as long as necessary - in good weather they can be moved around but this spell of rain we've had has meant the horses' paddock has become totally trashed and will have to recover before anything can go back onto it. 

Sheep can be grazed with horses but are vulnerable to being injured if they have to compete for food - I have a 6.5 acre winter field which sheep and horses stay on but once the grass had been eaten down and I was feeding hay things got a bit dicey at times!  I have fenced off a bit where the sheep can escape to but the sheep seemed hell bent on eating the piles of hay I put down for the horses  ::) ::).  It was a bit hairy at times as the horses sometimes kick at each other oblivious to whatever is in the way, although by and large the horses just let the sheep share.  The sheep got very adept at dodging out the way!
1 horse, 2 ponies, 4 dogs, 2 Kune Kunes, a variety of sheep


  • Joined Aug 2009
Re: How long in one field?
« Reply #3 on: April 28, 2012, 12:53:55 pm »
The old saying used to be "Don't let sheep hear the church bells ring three times in the same field" By that move them every couple of weeks.


  • Joined Apr 2012
  • Moray
Re: How long in one field?
« Reply #4 on: April 29, 2012, 07:44:33 am »
Hello all,

  thanks very much for your knowledge - it's much appreciated.  How long does it take a field to recover sufficiently for sheep to be put back into it?  I'm not going to go straight into trying to keep sheep, but I'd like to get an idea in my head how I'd have to divide up my land...

  Thanks again :)


  • Joined Oct 2007
  • Barry, Angus, Scotland
    • The Accidental Smallholder
Re: How long in one field?
« Reply #5 on: April 29, 2012, 08:13:10 pm »
Depends on too many things to say, IMHO - weather, soil type, species of grass, how hard it was grazed. Sorry  ::)


  • Joined Jan 2011
Re: How long in one field?
« Reply #6 on: April 29, 2012, 09:16:35 pm »
I agree. If you take care of it: harrow it, seed it with suitable seed and don't over graze it, it will recover quickly. We only managed to treat one of our paddocks this way before an early lamb kicked us to the spring paddocks a few weeks early. This paddock is holding out much better to drought flood and horses than the one next to it which is looking quite flooded and bare in places.


  • Joined Jul 2011
  • Pilton
  • Caution! May spontaneously talk rabbits!
Re: How long in one field?
« Reply #7 on: April 29, 2012, 09:28:51 pm »
I have 5 little sheep (lambs now too but they aren't eating grass yet) I had them on one little paddock for a month. I  moved them when they had eaten the grass down. 3 weeks later on the next paddock they still have grass, and the first paddock is green and grazable again. I will leave this one longer before I put them back because I have another little paddock for them to go in first and it has more shelter for the lambs.

BUT, none of these paddocks have had livestock in for a decade, so were worm free. I wormed and penned my lot before they were moved on so this grazing is clean. If you can keep the worms out as much as possible, I  think you can graze harder or longer, but if not frequent resting is preferable :thumbsup:
We'll turn the dust to soil,
Turn the rust of hate back into passion.
It's not water into wine
But it's here, and it's happening.
but passive.

Bring the peace back


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