Tag Archives: paddock

Warming Up!

Wow, it is amazing how warm weather can energise a person into working and really enjoying it!

Monday morning started off a bit rough though since it had been quite cold the night before and my early morning check of the lambing situation found 5 dead (cold) but 7 thriving.  At this point, I’m beginning to think there is a vast difference in mothering ability of these ewes.   However, all get a pass until the weather stays warm.  With warmer weather this afternoon, the ground is thawing on top, so it’s very slick to have a pickup out in the pasture, so after nearly getting stuck in an area I had pulled into to load some gates, I decided to drop them off at their new location just inside the gate and later I would drag them down to the water tank with my Gator.  Additionally, in the afternoon, Dallas and I moved the cows and calves a half mile to fresh pasture.  A little bit of green showing, but mostly they are picking at old stockpile which will serve them fine as long as the weather is not stressful.

Apparently, through the excitement of moving the cows, the guard dogs flattened the electrified netting that held in the sheep and unfortunately, once we returned, all but 5 nursing ewes had escaped.  That’s the way it goes, of course, since I was planning to move them down the road the next day up to the corral.  However, too late for that, so we spent the next two hours  pushing the ewes more than quarter mile through two paddocks and across a ditch with deep running water.  I was so proud of them actually ploughing through that water!  Sheep can really be stubborn about getting their feet wet.  I was calling the sheep to follow and Dallas was pushing and so the little lambs that couldn’t cross, he grabbed and threw them across to their mums.

Once over the ditch and through the gate, the key was to give them access to the hay pile so they would be occupied while iIset up seven nettings quickly before they escaped the area. Meanwhile, Dallas went back around to shut the gates behind the cattle (two had come back because they forgot to take their calves with them!!!  aaargh!), so all were together, then he continued on through to Cord Road to drive all the way around the square mile by gravel road.  I then sent him down to gather the 5 ewes plus lambs into the corner by Morris Chapel cemetery and install a netting around behind them.  That way they would be safe until we could move them next morning to be with the rest of the flock.  It was pretty much dark by this time.

We had noticed hours earlier a ewe having difficulty with giving birth, so when Dallas came back, we walked through the flock with the torch and found her.  I walked her over to the hay bales, grabbed her hind leg while she was distracted by eating and flipped her over.  The first lamb was fairly easy to pull out, so it was a mystery why she was having trouble.  So, i reached inside her and way, deep inside was another lamb.  It came out easily, too, so not sure why she was having trouble.  Nevertheless, I laid them around to her head, but she would have nothing to do with them; not a good sign.  I let her up and she just walked away, lambs baaing and wet.  Stupid ewe.  Dallas and I tried to push her back towards the lambs, but she would have nothing of it, so we caught her and walked/dragged her to the corral.  I packed the two lambs up to her and we tried for half an hour to get those lambs to nurse, but the ewe didn’t want them and they didn’t want her.

Both Dallas and I were tired and hungry by now (about 9:30pm), so we headed home and 35 minutes later we were back and fixing a light supper.  While it was warming, I went out and fed my five bottle lambs, back in for supper, then, taking a big box, I drove back up to see if a miraculous love fest was happening.  Nope, not at all.  I left her shut in the corral, grabbed the lambs and brought them home for feeding.  At midnight I finally got a shower and headed to bed.

They were very unhappy lambs and cried nearly all night in the basement.  But by morning after multiple feedings, they were strong.

Preparing for a Cold Snap!

Cold temperatures have descended on north Missouri today and forecasted to hang around for at least the next 10 days! With the ground already frozen, these continued below freezing temps made

it tough to set up the sheep electric netting fence.  Thankfully, I put up netting around several large bales of hay and running water for the sheep to stay put until the weather breaks, though I may have to chop ice if we don’t get any snow.  Sheep really don’t need water if there is snow available.

No longer am I trying to graze the road banks with the sheep.  Moving them down the bank is like pushing water now and with the ground frozen, it’s far too difficult to install the Kencove sheep netting fence.  At this point, grazing the banks in the spring after green grass starts coming on will be the next time they are pushed out.  Sheep grazing the banks eliminates the need for me to mow the banks with the brush hog, but it is extra work.

Cattle are a different story in the water department.  If there is plenty of heavy, wet snow, they won’t drink much, but if that’s what we have, it destroys the stockpiled winter forage for them to graze much faster than just being frozen or a light snow.  However, with a light snow, they will need fresh flowing water available.  Therefore, in anticipation of freezing weather, I filled the water tank and opened the leak valve so that the water will fill the tank and then continue running over the top of the overflow pipe.  Flowing water will not freeze easily – especially if the cattle are drinking from it.  The drawback to overflow is that the water is draining the pond from which it originates, though in Missouri, this is usually refilled easily when spring rains come.

Winter grazing with the lack of grass regrowth allows us to strip graze whatever size breaks we want to give the cattle or sheep.  If I know I’ll be back up to the farm the next day, I’ll give the cows a very small break of forage so that they won’t walk all over it and ruin it before grazing.  However, if it will be several days or if it’s going to be extra cold, I’ll set up a bit larger break.  The breaks are fenced with one strand of Powerflex Fence electrified polybraid fence and step-in posts for easy set up and tear down.  I use two lines and leap frog them across the paddocks  – allowing enough quality forage to maintain a healthy condition on the animals.  Strip grazing versus free access will vastly increase utilisation resulting in, on average, about 60% more grazing days!  Additionally, manure is more evenly distributed across the paddock.  (my paddocks average about 20 acres each).  My cows and calves require about 6500 lbs of dry matter per day, so accurately estimating the amount of forage per acre is crucial, then I open up enough acres for the cows to graze however many number of days I want.

Happy Grazing!

tauna

Sheep bale grazing near a small patch of timber.
Sheep bale grazing near a small patch of timber.
9  grazing under the snow - Copy
Going for the green!
Cattle grazing through snow  - strip grazing stockpiles forage
Cattle grazing through snow – strip grazing stockpiles forage