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Author Topic: Sheep tractors in the UK - anyone thought about them?  (Read 850 times)

Anke

  • Joined Dec 2009
  • St Boswells, Scottish Borders
Sheep tractors in the UK - anyone thought about them?
« on: February 21, 2023, 01:50:10 pm »
I am thinking that I do want to move my sheep to a mob-grazing system, but as a) I only have about 5 acres to play with (possibly more but it is rented) and b) want to reduce my sheep to less than 20 and a non-lambing flock I think the electric tape methods are just not feasible, both because of field size vs flock size, and because I want to plant some hedgerows/tree rows without having to fence them off permanently.... hence googling has unearthed the SHEEP TRACTOR. (all US based)


Anyone seen anthing like this in the UK? Any experience? I do have a chicken tractor type set up for a small henhouse that gets moved round the garden, but the actual "cage is not wheeled".


This is what I am talking about:   www.sheeptractor.com



I am mainly after experience on how big vs weight vs moveable by one person and such info.
« Last Edit: February 21, 2023, 01:55:20 pm by Anke »

Penninehillbilly

  • Joined Sep 2011
  • West Yorks
Re: Sheep tractors in the UK - anyone thought about them?
« Reply #1 on: February 22, 2023, 09:37:18 am »
i can understand your thoughts Anke, but wouldn't you need either a very  large unit (unworkable?) or use 2 or 3,, or be prepared to move it quite few times a day, unless you are cutting down to just a few?
interesting idea for a few pets though.  :)  Would be a good idea for tups when not needed!

Anke

  • Joined Dec 2009
  • St Boswells, Scottish Borders
Re: Sheep tractors in the UK - anyone thought about them?
« Reply #2 on: February 22, 2023, 09:52:34 am »
Well I think you could easily have about 10 inside a tractor arrangement and if it only take 10 minutes you could move it twice a day easily. Obviously you would need relatively even ground and not much of a hill, but I think we have that.


Mob-grazing as is being done with large flocks just seems to be quite time consuming (which would be manageable) but you need a lot more permanent as well as electric fencing. I also want to turn the field into more of a silvopasture set up, and permanently fence off hedges/trees just seems impossible from a finance point of view.


Not sure it would work for Shetland tups, I have had to replace a few fence posts in the last few years as the boys start fighting with each other and with the fence (in the absence of another tup...) quite early in the autumn.


Anyway, just bouncing ideas round my head... while watching the kidding camera, as the girls are due anytime now.

Fleecewife

  • Joined May 2010
  • South Lanarkshire
    • ScotHebs
Re: Sheep tractors in the UK - anyone thought about them?
« Reply #3 on: February 22, 2023, 12:12:39 pm »
The immediate problem I see with the system is that you are confining your sheep on their food and their toilet in one small space.
"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.

Anke

  • Joined Dec 2009
  • St Boswells, Scottish Borders
Re: Sheep tractors in the UK - anyone thought about them?
« Reply #4 on: February 22, 2023, 01:35:08 pm »
The immediate problem I see with the system is that you are confining your sheep on their food and their toilet in one small space.


But they do that anyway in a larger field setting - after all my sheep do not have a specific poo corner (unlike pigs). Also lots of droppings (and urine) in a small area plus they will also trample a lot of the grass which will then act to increase the organic matter in the soil (like a fresh mulch for example). The main emphasis will be on soil improvement rather than having fat lambs to sell.


Mob grazing is now done a lot with cattle and they are also not known for being fastidious in their toilet habits, plus their dung is a lot more splattered let's say.








Fleecewife

  • Joined May 2010
  • South Lanarkshire
    • ScotHebs
Re: Sheep tractors in the UK - anyone thought about them?
« Reply #5 on: February 22, 2023, 05:18:43 pm »
The immediate problem I see with the system is that you are confining your sheep on their food and their toilet in one small space.


But they do that anyway in a larger field setting - after all my sheep do not have a specific poo corner (unlike pigs). Also lots of droppings (and urine) in a small area plus they will also trample a lot of the grass which will then act to increase the organic matter in the soil (like a fresh mulch for example). The main emphasis will be on soil improvement rather than having fat lambs to sell.


Mob grazing is now done a lot with cattle and they are also not known for being fastidious in their toilet habits, plus their dung is a lot more splattered let's say.

Ah but sheep are far more fastidious. They have what's called a 'ring of repugnance' around dung piles; they don't approach too close when grazing (it's an innate mechanism to avoid ingesting worm eggs).  You can see that in the fields where there is a circle of slightly longer grass around dung where it has been left uneaten, different to the grass being well fertilised by the dung which would happen later.  So because in this system your sheep would necessarily be close together so they would not be able to leave that ring around trampled dung piles and would have to eat shitty grass.
"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: Sheep tractors in the UK - anyone thought about them?
« Reply #6 on: March 16, 2023, 05:59:20 pm »
What have you decided Anke?
Looks an interesting idea, just not sure about the numbers. Watched a video of a man making his own. I could imagine lots of uses for one, from keeping a.couple of males, or keeping ewes due to lamb/just lambed in. Or keeping the darned female lambs in so they don't get into the tup! Pesky things  >:( .
« Last Edit: March 16, 2023, 06:04:46 pm by Penninehillbilly »

arobwk

  • Joined Nov 2015
  • Kernow: despoiled in summer and villages left empty in winter except for Xmas/NY.
Re: Sheep tractors in the UK - anyone thought about them?
« Reply #7 on: March 17, 2023, 10:03:51 pm »
"Sheep tractors" - what ??  How many sheep would/can one hold in that without stress ?  Surely not enough to make the "investment" worth-while.  AND then there's the fact that one would need to be constantly monitoring the tractor's-worth of sheep v edible sward !!  "Chicken tractors" are surely bad enough in terms of welfare monitoring, but seems to me that "sheep tractors" are a step too far unless one is desperately looking to temporarily put a tup or two onto a bit of good grazing w/o interaction with ewes and, also, one is prepared to put in the tups' welfare monitoring effort/time. 

« Last Edit: March 17, 2023, 10:09:07 pm by arobwk »

Steph Hen

  • Joined Jul 2013
  • Angus Scotland.
Re: Sheep tractors in the UK - anyone thought about them?
« Reply #8 on: March 18, 2023, 07:38:34 am »
Youd need to calculate how much area you'd like them to have before building. Id be inclined to use something, maybe hurdles and see how you and the chosen few feel about being in a small area and how much pasture they actually need for 12/24 hours.

I reckon you could do something cunning and less intense with electric fence and some solid posts. I think it could be arranged so youre only having to move one bit of tape a day and not much wee posts, (or two tapes if you want to clear them off the previously grazed section). In my attached pic, Im thinking the perimeter fence line would stay for 5 days, only the dividing section(s) would need moved along. Then theyd get moved into another chunk and the new perimeter fence set up to allow easy daily movement through the next few sections. If that makes sense? Also have the option of allowing them access to larger plots if needed.

From the growing trees perspective, my concern is the risk of a sheep getting free in any system or deer coming in and damaging trees, young fruit trees in particular.

Depending on what youre planting, a 1.5-1.8m regular plastic/weld mesh tree guard and fence post stake (rather than a 2 tree stake) might provide both a suitable protection for your tree and secure anchor point for electric mob grazing scheme. But obviously not suitable for fruit trees on dwarfing root stocks.

Anke

  • Joined Dec 2009
  • St Boswells, Scottish Borders
Re: Sheep tractors in the UK - anyone thought about them?
« Reply #9 on: March 19, 2023, 10:47:52 am »
Youd need to calculate how much area you'd like them to have before building. Id be inclined to use something, maybe hurdles and see how you and the chosen few feel about being in a small area and how much pasture they actually need for 12/24 hours.

I reckon you could do something cunning and less intense with electric fence and some solid posts. I think it could be arranged so youre only having to move one bit of tape a day and not much wee posts, (or two tapes if you want to clear them off the previously grazed section). In my attached pic, Im thinking the perimeter fence line would stay for 5 days, only the dividing section(s) would need moved along. Then theyd get moved into another chunk and the new perimeter fence set up to allow easy daily movement through the next few sections. If that makes sense? Also have the option of allowing them access to larger plots if needed.

From the growing trees perspective, my concern is the risk of a sheep getting free in any system or deer coming in and damaging trees, young fruit trees in particular.

Depending on what youre planting, a 1.5-1.8m regular plastic/weld mesh tree guard and fence post stake (rather than a 2 tree stake) might provide both a suitable protection for your tree and secure anchor point for electric mob grazing scheme. But obviously not suitable for fruit trees on dwarfing root stocks.


Thanks Steph. I hadn't thought about banging in some strategically placed posts and use them for electric tape! This may just be a really good idea!

SallyintNorth

  • Joined Feb 2011
  • Cornwall
  • Rarely short of an opinion but I mean well
    • Trelay Cohousing Community
Re: Sheep tractors in the UK - anyone thought about them?
« Reply #10 on: March 19, 2023, 01:26:43 pm »
Posts ready for electric tape or wire when required work fine as long as the grazing is not used by larger animals.  If cattle or ponies use the grazing they just rub against the posts and soon dislodge or break them.
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

suzi

  • Joined Jul 2022
Re: Sheep tractors in the UK - anyone thought about them?
« Reply #11 on: March 20, 2023, 05:50:49 pm »
Have a look at abundance plus. They have designs for them I think on there.

I thought about it for my rams. But then thought about the phone calls the public would make thinking it was something else. We all know 2+2=6 to non farmer or small holders often. Im on a busy road.
If I was private Id definitely have a go. The worst case is you have additional fire wood I guess

Steph Hen

  • Joined Jul 2013
  • Angus Scotland.
Re: Sheep tractors in the UK - anyone thought about them?
« Reply #12 on: March 21, 2023, 05:51:40 am »
Posts ready for electric tape or wire when required work fine as long as the grazing is not used by larger animals.  If cattle or ponies use the grazing they just rub against the posts and soon dislodge or break them.

Good point!

 

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