Grazing Winter Cover

In the final days of October, the ewes moved to new ground. For about 25 days, they grazed on volunteer soybeans and stubble and a grown up waterway. As those resources began running out,I exposed them to the cover I planted October 4th. Each day, they take on a strip 10 to 25 feet deep and ~350 feet across.

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The cover consists mostly of wheat and cereal rye, with the remainder hairy vetch, safflower, plantain, winter lentils, rape, turnips, and one other I cannot recall at the moment. I estimate there are 1 to 10 ears of corn on the ground each day, which is not much per ewe (but they don’t share!)

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Though I should have inter-seeded into the standing corn crop in August, thus boosting the yield of the forage, the results are acceptable and promising. Ground cover is too thin and plants to little, but the sheep are performing very well. Most have gained weight since arriving.

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There is no back fence, in order allow access to the adjacent soybean stubble, and shelter (rarely needed).

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As you can see, there is not a lot of live plant matter, but conditioning is acceptable to good.

I feed up to 4 lbs of hay/ewe in extreme cold and/or snow.

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29 head are paced to finish the remainder of 13 acres on January 29th. A longer growth period would have added another month or more (or allowed more animals).

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This March 2015 ewe gave twins Christmas night. She has kept good condition so far, and her udder is a tick large.

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Ewes graze a row of wheat

grazed corn stubble sheep

(I can’t get the orientation changed) Ewes dug aggressively through snow on 1/5.

Questions?

 

2 thoughts on “Grazing Winter Cover

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