Homesteading Forum banner

1 - 7 of 7 Posts

·
Registered
Joined
·
283 Posts
Discussion Starter #1
This is my first winter with sheep and I will be keeping them locked up at night due to wolves and cougars. During the day I would like to put them in an ungrazed pasture with a shelter from the elements. Will they graze on the grass that is there or do I need to feed them in the snow? The grass is currently 1-2 feet tall and in some places 4-6 feet tall. I put hay in the barn at night when they come in but I want to ensure adequate nutrition thanks in advance
 

·
Premium Member
Joined
·
3,463 Posts
IMO, if your sheep had a year or two under their belts of stockpiled grazing, they would do fine with that much grass. However, if they are not "ranch" grass based sheep, and have been spoiled with hay and handouts, I think they would not do so well.

Our sheep will graze to an extent in the snow, and even use the snow as their water source, but currently we have a shortage of grass: Too many sheep! Long term as we build our flock, grazing them on stockpiled grass for an extra couple months in the early winter is how we would like to go. It is simpler and cheaper than feeding hay.

One thing about grazing mature/frozen/winter grass, is that it typically is low in protein and nutrients. I think you are correct in supplementing them with hay...
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
299 Posts
If they are used to grazing, they will graze the stockpile grass unless it has reached the point of being rank and unpalatable. You can easily assess whether that is the case by checking the stage of seed heads - fully headed out/shedding seeds equals rank and unpalatable. Another factor to take into consideration is if the grass is rank, the nutritional value has greatly decreased and your sheep will need additional supplementation either with grain or protein tubs.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
283 Posts
Discussion Starter #4
Thanks for your help. The grass has never been grazed or cut. So most likely rank. I can put them out for the day in pasture with grain am and pm and good hay at night
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
268 Posts
I would imagine that they would eat it. I feed enough hay during the winter to be 100% of their required intake. They still "graze" all winter on a pasture with pretty much nothing left to it. I think they do it out of habit/boredom. If there was something for them to actually eat I'm sure they'd eat it.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
2,468 Posts
Cornell does this a lot. They do not recommend supplementing grain/protien, although I think they're grazing hay fields that were cut in summer and have fresh fall growth, not really mature old grasses.
 
1 - 7 of 7 Posts
Top