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Hay For Sheep Without Big Equipment?

Brandon Greer


Joined: Apr 22, 2012
Posts: 219
Location: 1 Hour Northeast Of Dallas
    
    1
I'll be buying some sheep for my future land even though I know nothing about keeping them A farmer told me I must bale hay to feed them in the off season (winter I guess?) but the question I have is how do I do this without big farm equipment? Is baling hay necessary for keeping sheep?
Julie Helms


Joined: Dec 06, 2011
Posts: 110
Location: SC Pennsylvania, Zone 6b
Having hay is a necessity for sheep if you have winter without pasture. You could do it the old-fashioned way with a scythe and then tie it in bundles.


http://woolyacres.wordpress.com/
Brandon Greer


Joined: Apr 22, 2012
Posts: 219
Location: 1 Hour Northeast Of Dallas
    
    1
Julie Helms wrote:Having hay is a necessity for sheep if you have winter without pasture. You could do it the old-fashioned way with a scythe and then tie it in bundles.


Thanks for the reply Julie.

Stupid question: Why is it necessary to bundle hay rather just pile it or something?
Burra Maluca
Mother Tree

Joined: Apr 03, 2010
Posts: 4817
Location: Portugal Zone 9 Mediterranean Climate
    
181
Brandon Griffin wrote:Stupid question: Why is it necessary to bundle hay rather just pile it or something?


Bundles are easier to carry if you have very little equipment - you can make bundles and then carry two or three of them to where you intend to store the hay. Our neighbours insisted on all trooping out to demonstrate how it should be done the first summer we made hay here, but now they think we know how to do it properly they leave us alone and we just fork it up onto either the donkey cart or the the tractor trailer. Much easier...


What is a Mother Tree ?
Leila Rich
steward

Joined: May 24, 2010
Posts: 3879
Location: Wellington, New Zealand. Temperate, coastal, sandy, windy,
    
  80
Where do you dry it/keep it dry Burra? Sheds? I love sheds...stuff all the flash permie paradises, got any shed pictures?
Burra Maluca
Mother Tree

Joined: Apr 03, 2010
Posts: 4817
Location: Portugal Zone 9 Mediterranean Climate
    
181
It dries on the field, and these days we just generally make a big heap outside and throw a tarp over it if it looks like rain. BUT we live in a very summer dry climate ('cept the last couple of weeks) and we use all the loose stuff up before the winter rains set in, buying in baled hay or straw for the winter.

The first year we made hay, it was from a neighbour's land and they also commandeered an old disused shed for our use. I might pluck up the courage to go take a few photos, just for you Leila!

This thread has a lot of info and links about stacking hay by hand.
R Scott


Joined: Apr 13, 2012
Posts: 2428
Location: Kansas Zone 6a
    
  28
Leila Rich wrote:Where do you dry it/keep it dry Burra? Sheds? I love sheds...stuff all the flash permie paradises, got any shed pictures?


If you stack it right it will shed rain just like a thatched roof.

"You must be the change you want to see in the world." "First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win." --Mahatma Gandhi
"Preach the Gospel always, and if necessary, use words." --Francis of Assisi. "Family farms work when the whole family works the farm." -- Adam Klaus
Michael Radelut


Joined: Jan 21, 2011
Posts: 195
Location: Germany, 7b-ish
Brandon Griffin wrote:I'll be buying some sheep for my future land even though I know nothing about keeping them A farmer told me I must bale hay to feed them in the off season (winter I guess?) but the question I have is how do I do this without big farm equipment? Is baling hay necessary for keeping sheep?


As you've not included any details as to your location, zone etc., I'll simply link to my favourite video on this matter
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=W6HGKSvjk5Q
Ben Walter


Joined: Mar 19, 2011
Posts: 92
Location: Deland, FL
    
    1
I have 9 sheep at the moment and i'm in Florida. I can have year round forage down here if I can establish the cool season crops. We have dry winters and very-dry springs here, so without irrigation or a seed drill it's difficult to establish anything.

Right now my sheep are under an old pecan orchard on about 4 acres. It's mostly bahiagrass and bermuda grass. These grasses preform wonderfully in the heat of summer with our heavy rains, but brown up quickly with cold weather. Instead of trying to supplement with irrigated forage in winter/spring, i'm leaning towards introducing forage trees and shrubs that I can coppice for the animals. I'm messing with acacias and hoping to try some moringa and amorpha. I'm also planning on planting perennial peanut in and around some of my forest garden sections that I can cut for hay or mow off as fertilizer.

If anyone knows of good forage trees, and shrubs I would appreciate any advice.

Oh, one other note I'll share about my sheep is that they are Gulf Coast Natives. These do really well with our heat and high parasite-load soils. I've had 5 of these sheep for 2 years without having to worm and the 4 lambs are about 3 months old and doing great! I would definitely research what animals will do well in your conditions because it can make the experience much more pleasant. Also, shearing sheep is not fun, I actually just sheared 3 this morning. Hair sheep avoid this, but I do have plenty of wool for mulch and insulation.

Good luck with your project and if anyone has info to share on perennial forage I would appreciate it!

Michael Radelut


Joined: Jan 21, 2011
Posts: 195
Location: Germany, 7b-ish
Ben Walter wrote:Good luck with your project and if anyone has info to share on perennial forage I would appreciate it!

You already have all the perennial forage you need in your area, you just can't see it.
The moment you come up with the adequate way of managing your animals' movements across your land, you'll see it spring up.
In case you haven't seen it, please watch the video I linked to above, and read up on Holistic Management.
Greg Judy's 'Comeback Farms' has a section on sheep.)
Ben Walter


Joined: Mar 19, 2011
Posts: 92
Location: Deland, FL
    
    1
I haven't had a chance to watch the video yet, but I plan to. I heard a lot of good stuff about greg judy. My buddy has read several of his books and has shared a lot with me.

I have the posts in to divide my pasture into 5 paddocks as well as the chicken yard that can be used for a while. The sheep have definitely shown me a lot already. They foraged heavily on the camphor, oak and pecan leaves in the spring. I was actually surprised how much they loved the camphor. I put out alfalfa I had bought and when I cut a camphor branch down they all left the alfalfa and headed for the camphor leaves. I also feel they could be using this as a medicine for parasite control.

Taylor Stewart


Joined: Feb 15, 2012
Posts: 45
    
    2
You can get a lot of benefit from properly stockpiled forage during the winter months. If the ewes are dry, and you're not trying to grow lambs at the time, stockpiled forage can make up a large portion of the animals' diet. You may have to supplement with hay to meet their nutritional requirements. Don't let the sheep get drawn down in the winter or they'll die really quick, poor condition lowers their immune system. There are two kinds of sheep: a healthy sheep and a dead sheep.

You may also consider the use of a forage chain to graze through the winter. Triticale, rye, and wheat can greatly extend your grazing season. Turnips can provide good late fall/early winter forage. You can graze all year long if the ground isn't covered with snow, although you should always keep a supply of hay on hand for emergencies. Sheep will need supplemental hay more than cattle will, depending on what you are grazing.

We sold fat grass-fed animals last January. It takes the right genetics and properly stockpiled grass (along with a bit of supplemental hay). We could have done it without any hay if we had planted some annual grasses to graze.
Ben Walter


Joined: Mar 19, 2011
Posts: 92
Location: Deland, FL
    
    1
That's a great video! I was familiar with the content but it's always great to see good information spreading around. I do mob grazing with my sheep, and i'm planning on adding more permanent paddocks because the polywire with the sheep was a pain. My goal is to have 5 main pastures about 3/4 acre each and then use polywire for shorter runs.

My questions was misleading because I used 'perennial' when what I meant to say was 'perennial trees and shrubs'. I looking for good candidates because I will have to protect these from the sheep to get them established. My goal is to capture more sunlight with multiple layers of forage material. I want to find multiple types of trees and shrubs that I can coppice in the spring and winter as feed. These "out of reach" feed sources will be a living feed storage that can be supplied to the animals simply by trimming and dropping, or cutting down the whole tree.

Certain aspects i'm looking for is forage that is palatable in the early spring here and will recover from coppicing. I also would like many of them to be nitrogen fixers, like certain acacias and amorpha are. My last requirement would be something that can withstand our spring drought.

Some plants i'm considering are acacias, amorpha, and mulberry.

Thanks for any suggestions!
Ben Walter


Joined: Mar 19, 2011
Posts: 92
Location: Deland, FL
    
    1
Thanks for the tips Taylor...

I've tried seeding winter wheat, rye, various clovers and sorghum with little-to-no success. Our soil here is essentially sand and without irrigation or tilling it's almost impossible to get anything established. I'm hoping that as my soil improves that I will have better luck with seeding and hopefully get to a point where everything self seeds properly.

I know they will grow here, because they do great as cover crops in my garden!
Ben Walter


Joined: Mar 19, 2011
Posts: 92
Location: Deland, FL
    
    1
This is another tree i'm going to try for fodder...

Tagasaste
Mike Turner


Joined: Sep 23, 2009
Posts: 154
Location: Upstate SC
    
    1
I maintain bamboo groves in my sheep pastures. On their own they provide summer shade, winter shelter from the wind, and bamboo shoots in the spring for the sheep to eat. I fence the sheep out of the main groves during the spring shooting season so the shoots forming there can grow, allowing the sheep to eat any shoots coming up outside of the fence to prevent it spreading. In the winter after the sheep have eaten down all of the stockpiled grass, I'll cut poles out of the grove and let the sheep strip the leaves off them. These poles will later find a use in the vegetable garden for pea sticks, bean trellises and the like. Once I have cut all of the poles I need for the season, I'll use a rope and weight to pull the top of the springy canes down to where the sheep can reach them to browse the leaves. A day or two later, after they have been denuded of leaves, I'll release them to pop back up and re-leaf themselves in the spring.
Mitsy McGoo


Joined: Apr 04, 2012
Posts: 22
Location: zone 6b in upper east Tennessee
Mike Turner wrote:I maintain bamboo groves in my sheep pastures. On their own they provide summer shade, winter shelter from the wind, and bamboo shoots in the spring for the sheep to eat. I fence the sheep out of the main groves during the spring shooting season so the shoots forming there can grow, allowing the sheep to eat any shoots coming up outside of the fence to prevent it spreading. In the winter after the sheep have eaten down all of the stockpiled grass, I'll cut poles out of the grove and let the sheep strip the leaves off them. These poles will later find a use in the vegetable garden for pea sticks, bean trellises and the like. Once I have cut all of the poles I need for the season, I'll use a rope and weight to pull the top of the springy canes down to where the sheep can reach them to browse the leaves. A day or two later, after they have been denuded of leaves, I'll release them to pop back up and re-leaf themselves in the spring.


Mike, I've read your comments about growing bamboo in sheep pastures before; this method intrigues me. I'd be interested to know a little more detail, such as your climate zone, what else your sheep eat in addition to the bamboo, how many sheep you have per acre, what type of sheep you have, and what type(s) of bamboo you grow. We would like to raise just a few sheep for our household use on as little supplemental feed as possible in addition to not needing to bale hay. We're in zone 6b in upper east Tennessee.

~ Mitsy


read about mitsy and jaybird's adventures at http://mountainstead.blogspot.com
Ben Walter


Joined: Mar 19, 2011
Posts: 92
Location: Deland, FL
    
    1
Thanks for the info Mike!

I will definitely be trying this. I have two type of bamboo that I was unsure of where to keep long term, now I know! I love the idea of letting them trim the leaves and I have tons of use for bamboo poles. Do you have a method for drying out the canes that works for you?

Thanks again.
M Marx


Joined: Feb 14, 2012
Posts: 57
Location: Los Angeles
wow! that video of Greg Judy is great!!
David Miller


Joined: Sep 13, 2011
Posts: 239
Location: Harrisonburg, VA
Ben Walter wrote:I have 9 sheep at the moment and i'm in Florida. I can have year round forage down here if I can establish the cool season crops. We have dry winters and very-dry springs here, so without irrigation or a seed drill it's difficult to establish anything.

Right now my sheep are under an old pecan orchard on about 4 acres. It's mostly bahiagrass and bermuda grass. These grasses preform wonderfully in the heat of summer with our heavy rains, but brown up quickly with cold weather. Instead of trying to supplement with irrigated forage in winter/spring, i'm leaning towards introducing forage trees and shrubs that I can coppice for the animals. I'm messing with acacias and hoping to try some moringa and amorpha. I'm also planning on planting perennial peanut in and around some of my forest garden sections that I can cut for hay or mow off as fertilizer.

If anyone knows of good forage trees, and shrubs I would appreciate any advice.

Oh, one other note I'll share about my sheep is that they are Gulf Coast Natives. These do really well with our heat and high parasite-load soils. I've had 5 of these sheep for 2 years without having to worm and the 4 lambs are about 3 months old and doing great! I would definitely research what animals will do well in your conditions because it can make the experience much more pleasant. Also, shearing sheep is not fun, I actually just sheared 3 this morning. Hair sheep avoid this, but I do have plenty of wool for mulch and insulation.

Good luck with your project and if anyone has info to share on perennial forage I would appreciate it!



Mulberry is purported to be a great forage crop. High protein, I've misplaced a document I had on using it as a forage crop. Essentially the idea was to copice trees so that they would remain dwarf while feeding the "trimmings" to livestock. The article examined the differences amongst livestock as far as digestibility for many different trees that could be used for this. There was also a great Scottish tree that has been used for years as a over winter forage. If I find the article/book I'll upload it for you.
Mike Turner


Joined: Sep 23, 2009
Posts: 154
Location: Upstate SC
    
    1
Mitsy McGoo wrote:
Mike Turner wrote:I maintain bamboo groves in my sheep pastures. On their own they provide summer shade, winter shelter from the wind, and bamboo shoots in the spring for the sheep to eat. I fence the sheep out of the main groves during the spring shooting season so the shoots forming there can grow, allowing the sheep to eat any shoots coming up outside of the fence to prevent it spreading. In the winter after the sheep have eaten down all of the stockpiled grass, I'll cut poles out of the grove and let the sheep strip the leaves off them. These poles will later find a use in the vegetable garden for pea sticks, bean trellises and the like. Once I have cut all of the poles I need for the season, I'll use a rope and weight to pull the top of the springy canes down to where the sheep can reach them to browse the leaves. A day or two later, after they have been denuded of leaves, I'll release them to pop back up and re-leaf themselves in the spring.


Mike, I've read your comments about growing bamboo in sheep pastures before; this method intrigues me. I'd be interested to know a little more detail, such as your climate zone, what else your sheep eat in addition to the bamboo, how many sheep you have per acre, what type of sheep you have, and what type(s) of bamboo you grow. We would like to raise just a few sheep for our household use on as little supplemental feed as possible in addition to not needing to bale hay. We're in zone 6b in upper east Tennessee.

~ Mitsy


I'm in 7a (upstate SC). The pastures are a mix of fescue, bahia, bermuda, and dallis grasses, with some dutch white clover, and the sheep also have access to wooded areas with Japanese honeysuckle, multiflora rose, and whatever tree leaves they can reach. We also feed the ewes some grain when the lambs are suckling and pulling down the ewes. We have 50 sheep on 18 acres of pasture and 5 acres of forest. The sheep are a katahdin/St, Croix/Gulf Coast native cross. The bamboos are Phyllostachys makinoi, P. aurea, P. meyeri, P. edulis, P. bambusoides, and Hibanobambusa tranquillans, and Semiarundinaria fastuosa.
Mike Turner


Joined: Sep 23, 2009
Posts: 154
Location: Upstate SC
    
    1
Ben Walter wrote:Thanks for the info Mike!

I will definitely be trying this. I have two type of bamboo that I was unsure of where to keep long term, now I know! I love the idea of letting them trim the leaves and I have tons of use for bamboo poles. Do you have a method for drying out the canes that works for you?

Thanks again.


Once the sheep have removed the leaves, I leave the canes in a shaded area to dry out until I need them.
Fred Morgan
steward

Joined: Sep 29, 2009
Posts: 972
Location: Northern Zone, Costa Rica - 200 to 300 meters Tropical Humid Rainforest
    
  12
Sheep love moringa too. About the only animal that doesn't that grazes that I have seen is horses. For some reason, they aren't fond of it, everything else is. They love mulberry though.

Sheep are great for removing vines in undergrowth, and if you take a machete to the undergrowth, they will love the new growth when it comes back up. (we have forest).


Sustainable Plantations and Agroforestry in Costa Rica
Ben Walter


Joined: Mar 19, 2011
Posts: 92
Location: Deland, FL
    
    1


I'm in 7a (upstate SC). The pastures are a mix of fescue, bahia, bermuda, and dallis grasses, with some dutch white clover, and the sheep also have access to wooded areas with Japanese honeysuckle, multiflora rose, and whatever tree leaves they can reach. We also feed the ewes some grain when the lambs are suckling and pulling down the ewes. We have 50 sheep on 18 acres of pasture and 5 acres of forest. The sheep are a katahdin/St, Croix/Gulf Coast native cross. The bamboos are Phyllostachys makinoi, P. aurea, P. meyeri, P. edulis, P. bambusoides, and Hibanobambusa tranquillans, and Semiarundinaria fastuosa.


Mike, thanks for the bamboo info, I guess it's a simple process.

When you mix the hair and wool breeds do you have to shear the sheep? And roughly what percentage mix are they?
Thanks again!
Mike Turner


Joined: Sep 23, 2009
Posts: 154
Location: Upstate SC
    
    1
Ben Walter wrote:


I'm in 7a (upstate SC). The pastures are a mix of fescue, bahia, bermuda, and dallis grasses, with some dutch white clover, and the sheep also have access to wooded areas with Japanese honeysuckle, multiflora rose, and whatever tree leaves they can reach. We also feed the ewes some grain when the lambs are suckling and pulling down the ewes. We have 50 sheep on 18 acres of pasture and 5 acres of forest. The sheep are a katahdin/St, Croix/Gulf Coast native cross. The bamboos are Phyllostachys makinoi, P. aurea, P. meyeri, P. edulis, P. bambusoides, and Hibanobambusa tranquillans, and Semiarundinaria fastuosa.


Mike, thanks for the bamboo info, I guess it's a simple process.

When you mix the hair and wool breeds do you have to shear the sheep? And roughly what percentage mix are they?
Thanks again!


When you mix hair and wool breeds, the offspring are a mix of naturally shedding (hair) and non-shedding (wool) sheep, but with more shedding than not. Then you get some that don't shed or don't shed off completely until their 2nd summer and then shed regularly after that. Since there is no market for wool around here and its a pain to shear them in the summer heat, our breeding program is away from wool.
Ben Walter


Joined: Mar 19, 2011
Posts: 92
Location: Deland, FL
    
    1
Thanks again for the info Mike,

I finished shearing our last sheep last weekend, and i'm very glad its over for now. It's good to know I can transition to hair if I decide to. As far as the wool goes, I'm thinking of mulch for now, and later saving up to insulate the chicken coop/greenhouse.

 
 
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