Pasture Management

Discussion in 'Sheep' started by CountryFried, Mar 5, 2005.

  1. CountryFried

    CountryFried Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    144
    Joined:
    Dec 22, 2003
    Location:
    Tennessee
    Just curious... What does the majority of the people here implement into their sheep grazing ? Do you rotate pastures ? Use legumes mainly ?

    Does anyone know how many sheep per acre is the right amount to have ? Maybe that would have to be different if they are for wool or meat I assume.

    I'm looking at renovating my pastures, which haven't been maintained in a long while. We purchased this farm in a pretty run down state. Recently I am reading about rotational grazing etc., and it seems more beneficial for health (less worms), and better for the pastures. We made a mistake and put a horse given to us with the sheep. It ate everything down in days it seemed !

    I've recently reduced my flock , partly because we saw that we didn't have enough pasture for them all. In the beginning it seemed that we had plenty of land , but now grass is down to nubs. I am trying to read up on reseeding and improving the land. First a soil test is on my list to do.

    Are there grasses or legumes that sheep like better ? I'm sure I'll need to check which ones grow here in E.TN. best .
    Thanks!

    Sherry
     
  2. shepmom

    shepmom Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    825
    Joined:
    May 29, 2003
    Location:
    USA
    We rotate. Still in the early stages in building the land to good grazing. As you've already experienced the question on how many depends on the quality of pasture available. Generally, an acre a sheep. My memory hasn't been the best on recalling all the research I've done, so that may not be quite right. :D

    Check with your local ag person for soil testing and pasture grass recommendations.
    Browse here to get some ideas....
    http://www.farmseeds.com/

    Trefoil, alfalfa, clover, legumes......variety.



     

  3. Ross

    Ross Moderator Staff Member Supporter

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    Location:
    Ontario
    Stocking rates are different regionally, here in E Ontario it's one animal unit per acre. In sheep terms its 5 sheep with lambs under 3 months at side. So after the lambs are older than 3 months they are part of that 5 per acre. We try use a mix of different grasses and legumes so we'll get something if its a wet year or a dry year. Direct seed or frost seed the new plantings every three years or so. We need more fences to rotationally graze effectively, but do try, and suppliment with chopped 2nd or 3rd cut from the hay feilds. To design in detail for your area you need someone in your area to help you sorry to say. Its sounds as if you're well on your way to getting the job done properly though!
     
  4. Maura

    Maura Well-Known Member Supporter

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    Michigan's thumb
    How big are your sheep? Two of my medium sheep eat as much as my three little sheep. The primitive breeds tend to be thriftier. We rotate our sheep all summer, keeping them out of the wet areas in the spring, but putting them in the formerly wet areas in August. Look at your terrain and notice high spots, low spots, and what grows there. This will help you determine the most efficient way to rotate your sheep. Sometimes a small area will support your sheep twice as long as a larger area because of what is growing there and what time of year it is. My sheep are crazy about my front lawn in early summer as it is about half clover.
     
  5. CountryFried

    CountryFried Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    144
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    Dec 22, 2003
    Location:
    Tennessee
    Thanks to all of the great ideas !!

    I have medium sized sheep. Jacobs . I am glad to get recommendations on what most do with their sheep.

    I needed to know the grass selection to use so thanks shepmom, Ross great info on the amount of sheep per acreage , plus a peek into how you manage your outfit.

    Maura, the part about shade and sun areas is much help in determining how to divide the pastures. Each is a different climate type.

    One has a creek with forest on one end of approx 4 acres , so it presents a whole different situation. The top of the hill gets lots of wind and sun , not much water. The bottom is like you said mostly flooded in spring , cool in summer.

    Sherry
     
  6. thelowefarm

    thelowefarm Member

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    Mar 30, 2005
    Location:
    Virginia
    One of the best starting out resources we've found was the book Small Scale Livestock Farming by Carol Ekarius. It has a lot of information on rotational grazing and pasture management and resources for further reading.

    Our area is not big on livestock (all row crops) and there are no other sheep farms around so we've had a hard time getting good help from our ag extension office and conservation district. I would be sure to have your personal farm goals firmly in mind before talking to them to make sure that their suggestions match your purpose before you just take their word for it. They actually told us that the only rotational grazing/pasture rejuvinating technique they could/would recommend was to spray our whole farm with Round Up to kill all the weeds we had and disc and replant with fescue. They told us flat out that they had no suggestions for using native species, warm/cool season grass mixes, or multi-species grazing.
     
  7. quailkeeper

    quailkeeper Well-Known Member

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    Aug 18, 2004
    The general rule is 4-6 sheep per acre depending on your pastures. We are in the process of fencing in our second pasture so we will be rotating as well. Not sure what kinds of grass other than clover, bermuda, and rye.