Rotating Pature Question

Discussion in 'Sheep' started by 6e, Aug 30, 2006.

  1. 6e

    6e Farm lovin wife Supporter

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    We're having trouble with our sheep always staying up near the barn and are therefore grazing the grass away up there. So, this winter we are cross fencing the pasture to force them out where the grass is taller, but I'm not sure if we should only divide it in half or into thirds? How many pastures do you have and how long do you leave them on one pasture?
     
  2. livestockmom

    livestockmom Well-Known Member

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    We have a 30 day rotation for each pasture...leaving the pastures empty for those 30 days and tractor mowing the tall grass left behind helps with worm loads. Besides, our sheep and goats dont like the grass once its tall.
    We have our pastures cut up into 5 acre pieces but it depends on how many animals your running and how much you want to supplement feed.
    Also, if you put their water troughs all the way out in the pastures, studies show that animals graze closest to their water source.
     

  3. kesoaps

    kesoaps Well-Known Member

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    Somewhere I was reading about pasture based dairies, and a cow dairy that had something like 80 head of cows did an experiment. They'd always used just one pasture, but this particular year split it up into thirds, then rotated their girls through it every week or two (don't recall exactly.) Anyway, the outcome was more milk and a longer grazing season, as the grass grew better when it had a few weeks off.

    Speaking of rotating, guess I'd better go rotate a few ewes right now :p
     
  4. moopups

    moopups In Remembrance

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    Rotation is done for the good of the pasture, which in turn is good for the critters. Normal practices here is to shield off a section before the critters arrive. A dome of wire over a hula hoop is the quickest way I have seen it done, the purpose is to have an uneaten area so you can determine when the grass's length is half way gone.

    The reason being that when grass is eaten down most of the way, say 9/10th, the time for the natural chemicals to rebalance is up to 30 days, before regrowth starts. But if the grass is only eaten to 50% then regrowth starts within a day or two.

    Therefore it is prudent to adjust your critter count to the pastures response, gain or shed as the situation changes. This needs to be a common practice for a profitable venture, built into the initial planning.
     
  5. 6e

    6e Farm lovin wife Supporter

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    The hula hoop idea is interesting. I'm kind of curious to see if the east pasture makes a come back after they've hit it pretty hard. As soon as we bring hay in they're being pulled off. Every year in the spring we burn off the pastures and there's nothing, but it seems to come back really fast. It's been such a dry year and the east side, where they graze the most, is also sitting at a slope that drains to a pond and so when it does rain the rain just run off to the pond. The west end is more flat and so tends to hold the rain and the grass gets watered better and grows faster.
    About the water, that is an interesting idea, although on the west end where they don't tend to graze as much there is a pond.
    We didn't really think about rotation when we set it up because the pasture is more than big enough for the critters, but we didn't think about the fact that they would stay in one spot and keep grazing that one spot rather than moving to where the grass is taller.....
    We're going to fix that as soon as it cools down.
    So, would thirds be best? We have blue stem prarie grass that grows slower than an Oak tree. I would really like to over seed it with a good tough faster growing grass. We have clay soil, any suggestions for a good grass type for sheep?
     
  6. Bearfootfarm

    Bearfootfarm Hello, hello....is there anybody in there.....? Supporter

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    Try to have enough divisons so you dont get back on the first one for at least 4 weeks. The number of sections will vary according to how well they grow, how many animals you have and whats planted or growing in each one. As long as you give each section about 4 weeks rest it should recover by the time its needed. If one section grows faster you can just put them back on it sooner, or leave them oon it longer As a VERY general rule, the more sections you have the better off you are. On the other hand if youre tilling or reseeding more sections just mean more wasted area and are harder to work in. I use "polywire" to divide mine so that if I need to work in them I can just roll it up on a reel to get it out of the way. If you dont leave them in any one section too long, it doesnt take a lot to keep them in. If they get too hungry NOTHING will keep them in LOL