Saturday, October 8, 2016

New plans for a favorite farm animal

Live and learn... An example of what the hobby farm glossy type magazines don't tell you...
Sure! They tell you to rotate sheep to minimize damage to pasture .. Because sheep naturally eat very close to the ground...
But none of my magazines or books told me the most important information...
The most important information I got about sheep management came from a long time shepherd ... But it was to late.. Damage was done... And on top of the limping problems and other issues I had already sold my sheep. 
Now,, With sheep back in the picture grazing management has to be a big priority to protect the pastures. I don't have acres and acres of lush pasture so I have to be donkeys also run the same areas . And donkeys aren't exactly easy on grass either!!! ( if you really like your grass and don't have much of it goats work much better.. If you can stand goats! Lol! I can't!) 
The grass these sheep in the picture below are feeding on here in 2013 was totally ripped out by the sheep and turned to a dry lot come late fall. 
Despite rotating my 9 dairy sheep ( that's right only 9!) between 5 areas!!! they still ripped up any grass come Sept./October when the sugars of the grass went to the roots...Where ever I put them they uprooted it immediately. 
I did not know this would happen and thought simply rotating would be enough .. It's not!
So now in the fall they will be run into a dry lot area to be over wintered. And also during droughts or during times when the conditions of the barberpole parasite are at a high.. A.k.a. death to the sheep!
Unless I actually want the grass ripped out so we can re seed an area!
Sheep... Are So not a low input animal!!
Especially dairy sheep or fancy big longwool breeds ( loved those so much! but totally did not work well here for various reasons...if I ever think I can figure out how to make them work I would try! I have to say Hair sheep do seem much lower input!) 
But what an amazing , useful addition to a farm if you can figure out how to make them work for you. 
How many animals can you get meat, milk , leather, tallow and even some even fiber from for yarn or felted material!! Lanolin too if you want to bother with it. And Don't forget all that poo/wasted hay fertilizer mulch that can be put on the garden without composting.
Not to mention the joy of seeing them, hearing them and smelling their wonderful lanolin wool everyday! 
Totally special livestock! 
Here's to hoping and praying I can make them work here! 
One of my new lacaune Friesian dairy sheep above 😘 gorgeous girl!! 
Many blessings! 

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