Rotational grazing

IMG_4644 IMG_4888Thankfully, we had a very successful lambing, ending with 9 ewes giving birth to 13 lambs, everyone did really well. I think it’s worth noting the importance of quality care and it’s long term benefit on the herd. Throughout winter we are daily addressing nutrition and parasite control through good hay, a tidy barnyard and a well stocked mineral box that includes sea minerals, kelp, baking soda, azomite and diatomaceous earth.  These help with digestion, nutrition and aid in worming, and another great way to ensure a healthy herd is to utilize rotational grazing.

Now that the pastures are lush with a variety of vegetation we have a happy herd eagerly following us out to graze. Rotational grazing is a key factor in the health of the animals but also the health and vitality of the farm. Using electro net fencing we create small paddocks to graze the animals giving them enough space to move comfortably and lie down but not so big that they eat only what they like leaving less desirable forage to take over.  Moving the herd also reduces compaction and soil erosion from over grazing. Rather than allowing the pasture to be taken down to the ground we move every 1 or 2 days and will not return for at least 28 days. This gives the paddock a chance to rest and build up again and reduces animals eating too closely to fresh poop and the parasites that come with it. One of the more difficult and harmful parasites is the intestinal roundworm, It can make for a really weak and malnourished animal. The roundworm has a 21 day life cycle so by moving the animals from one paddock to a fresh paddock we remove the threat of ingesting the nasty critters.

Rotational grazing can seem a little daunting at first but once you get used to shifting the fences it really doesn’t take too much extra time. The extra time is beneficial in that we spend more time with the animals as they follow us to the new space and along the way we can see how the pastures are doing. We can decide if a paddock needs more rest or maybe needs to be addressed with weed whacking. manure or seeding. The pastures and tree line around the farm look more and more healthy every year and the animals enjoy the variety of forage the land has to offer.  It’s really been one of the best farm practices we’ve adopted and seeing it in the animals and the land reminds us that we are all beneficial to one another.

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