Spring is a magical time of year for anyone who likes to be outside. Things are growing, babies are exploring, and life seems to be in overdrive. This is no exception when you are grazing.
Now that we are more or less done lambing (one late ewe left to go) and all the lambs are nibbling grass, it is time for everyone to get outside and have some fun. The sheep have had a taste of outside in their paddock, but it really isn’t the same as nice, juicy, lush spring grazing.
Last Friday was their first time out on “real” pasture after they had a good base of hay in their bellies. With sheep you don’t want to go and switch feed quickly – if your have four stomachs, a belly ache would be brutal.
All the ewes thought it was wonderful! The lambs just had a great time running up and down the strip of grass at top speed and then collapsed in a fuzzy, tired, and content heap.
Since last Friday we have been pulsing the sheep through the pasture quickly to get the most nutritious top parts of the grass as it is growing. Ideally this should be done quickly to begin establishing a staggered growth pattern for grazing into the summer and beyond. When we set up for grazing we always like to have a “base-camp”. This provides water and shade in an area closer than the barn. We think the sheep appreciate this – the lambs particularly seem to like it.
So far so good. The sheep are enjoying being outside and we now have enough fencing to set up 2-3 days worth of grazing at a time. It is also interesting to see what types of grasses and forbes grow where on the land, and how the soil differs from area to area- a lot to learn on a new piece of land.
All this fresh new growth is clock full of nutrition for both mums and babies. Lots protein for mums which in turn produce lots of milk for babies. OUr lambs tend to nurse for a long time. We prefer to let the ewes choose when they are weaned. It also makes it much easier we don’t have to keep everyone seperate.
With all the netting it also means that our livestock dogs, get a bit of a break.