Pasture Musical Chairs

Sheep grazing on my pasture

The photo of my sheep flock two years ago, taken in June. I use pasture rotation to keep my flock fed. This week, I had to take all livestock off the pasture. Reason, the temperatures are lower than what the pasture grass requires to grow. I will be feeding my flock hay until I think it is time to put them back on pasture.

When the ground temperature warms up for grass growth, I keep the animals off an additional 30 to 40 days. I want the grass to be growing under the ground as much as above the ground. A good root system produces more grass leaves. When the grass first starts turning green with new grow, the energy is going into the leaves, but not the roots. Only when the grass has more energy than the grass plant requires due to long grass leaves, then it will produce new roots and spread. With the first start of spring, giving the pasture a rest encourages the growth and spreading.

Pasture rotation operates on the same principle. The grass gains the leaf growth, then builds new roots or repairs the established root system. Pasture rotation also breaks the life cycle of internal parasites’ of the sheep.

When I plan my breeding and lamming dates, I calculate in when the ewes with lambs will be on the pasture. The ewes maintain condition while nursing and the lambs grow better when they are on a green growing pasture.

Taking care of the land, not over grazing and giving the ground a rest is part of being a sheep farmer. If the sheep farmer neglects the land, soon the land will not produce feed for the sheep, and sheep will be hungry.

Care for the land so the land can feed the sheep.


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