Old wives' tale or truth?

Discussion in 'Sheep' started by mucklingmom, Aug 20, 2004.

  1. mucklingmom

    mucklingmom Member

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    Hi, All!
    I'm posting this in the cow forum also - I have a dairy farmer's son who is putting up a fence for us telling me that cows won't graze where sheep have been. We've been planning to run our sheep and cow together, and this is the first I've heard of this from any quarter in the months we've been planning this. Does anyone know if there's any truth to this?
    Worried,
    Amy M.
    FYI: This info doesn't come from firsthand experience on the part of the farmer's son.
     
  2. uncle Will in In.

    uncle Will in In. Well-Known Member Supporter

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    This comes from the fact that sheep can graze grass even with the ground. Cows can't eat what ain't there. If they are both in a quality legume/grass pasture together they will both do well.
    The old time ranchers didn't want sheep on the open range because they eat it too close to pasture cattle.
     

  3. quailkeeper

    quailkeeper Well-Known Member

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    That is totally untrue. There have been many studies that have shown the cattle and pasture actually benefit from sharing a pasture with sheep. You can run cattle and sheep together in the same pasture. If you have 10 head of cattle on 15 or 20 acres you can add 10 head of sheep and you won't notice any difference. If your interested I can post some websites showing the results of these studies.
     
  4. Ross

    Ross Moderator Staff Member Supporter

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    Yes it is an old wives tale and both the previous answers cover the reasons well and of coarse there are benefits. Sheep can carry a fatal pnuemonia (occasionally) and if I remember correctly its called (if not spelled right) haumophilous plural Pnumonia. I would think a course of trivetrin or Borgol in some parts and there are other similar types (sulfa based antibiotic) shots would solve the problem. We kept 3 calves with a our sheep a few years ago and lost one of the calves to this disease, however thinking about it we kept 12 sheep with our 70 cows 20 or so years ago with no problem.
     
  5. MARYDVM

    MARYDVM Well-Known Member

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    There is a viral disease called Malignant Catarrhal Fever that sheep can carry that is 100% fatal to cattle. The sheep tend to show no symptoms, but shed the virus periodically, especially when lambing. In 16 years of rural dairy practice, I saw 3 farmers who kept sheep and cattle lose 1 or more cows to this disease. It is rare, but absolutely devastating when it occurs.
     
  6. GeorgeK

    GeorgeK Well-Known Member

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    If your pasture is big enough you can have virtually anything together. They each need enough space for all combined.
     
  7. Freeholder

    Freeholder Well-Known Member

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    Sheep eat short fine-textured grass, because they bite it off. Cows wrap their tongues around the grass and pull. They prefer longer coarser grass. The two species complement one another very well in a well-managed pasture. If you have brush or herbaceous plants in your pasture, you can profitably add goats to the mix. If you do intensively managed grazing (moving animals from one small pasture to another on a daily or almost daily basis, according to the growth of the forage plants), you can really improve a poor pasture by using all three species. BUT, sheep, and especially goats, require excellent fencing. If you have low wet ground, it wouldn't hurt to keep a few ducks to eat the snails that carry a couple of parasites that are harmful to livestock. Chickens will scratch through the manure piles and scatter them, so you don't end up with those nice green clumps that the cattle won't eat -- and they eat fly larvae at the same time. Muscovy ducks are supposed to eat lots of flies (I haven't tried this one yet, but hope to soon.) There's a name for this combining of animals which I can't think of right now (it's getting late), but you could think of it as permaculture with livestock.

    Kathleen in Oregon
     
  8. Ross

    Ross Moderator Staff Member Supporter

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    Mary don't be such a stranger!! I'll bet that was the problem I had with my little calf not haumophilous (or however its spelled) Of course the biggest problem I had was the two surviving bull calves were Brown Swiss and too spirited to be handled easily. Darned good calves though and they finished well. I doubt I'll ever own a cow again, just too dumb.