Thursday, June 25, 2009


Yesterday when I got home and moved my sheep and goats to a new rotation one goat was not acting right. She was the last animal to move into the new paddock and was walking a little funny and was holding her ears out. She also was the only animal not eating. (She was one of my Texas goats and they had about 7 months of mohair on. I was going to shear them in Aug. so they would have enough, but not too much mohair for the winter.) I took her temp and it was 105.2-heatstroke! Not good so I gave her Banamine and Penicillin and then brought her back (in my car as they are quite far away from the house/barn) and sheared her down.

This morning I got up at 5:30 to shear the buck and the other 2 does. (I also e-mailed both the other people who got goats and were also going to wait until Aug)

Her temp this morning was 98.5 (temps can drop when they have heatstroke) and she was still not right so I called my vet out and he thought she will make it and her problem now is her rumen is not working as a side affect of heatstroke.

I've never had heatstroke before and most of the time my sheep and goats don't have shade, but they did have shade yesterday and today. I'm guessing she just had too much mohair to cool down. She is probably 100-120 and had 7 1/2# of mohair (7 months growth. ) Angora goats don't have the bald arm/leg pits like sheep and the heat must just have gotten locked in. And of course she is the best Texas goat that I got. The other does had 6 and 6 1/2 # and the buck only had 4 1/2 #.

The buck
The does-the one in the middle is the sick one

Monday, June 15, 2009

Cool fog

Last night it rained after being very hot. Then it got foggy in patches. It was soo pretty!
It looked waaay better in real life. Pictures just don't do scenery justice! (Click pictures to "biggify")

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Polled and scurred ram lambs

Fairlight out of Jings and Sabbath Farm Fonteyn. He has absolutely no horn growth! ( I caught all my sheep and goats today to deworm them. )
Funzie the twin sister to the above ram lamb. She has some scurrs or horns starting to grow. They are about 1/2 in long.
Sabbaoth Farm Fonteyn out of Underhill Bothwell and Walnut Rise Janet (Giselle). She is an F2 Holly/Greyling.
Fetlar out of Orion and UnderTheSon Claremori. Horned or scurred?? (Caremori has had a horned daughter.)
Fife a moorit ram lamb out of Orion and SheepyHollow Sienna. He is the same age as the other lambs on this post.

Yeah! I got all my sheep and goats dewomed with Ivomec and got to feel all the lamb's fleece (I have not caught most of them since they were born.) Of the 10 purebred ewe lambs I only have 2 who I don't like their fleeces. All 7 of the purebred ram lambs this year have very nice fleeces.


Weeds-(Dandelions, Asters) I also have thistles, lambs quarters and other weeds. Weeds are often quite nutritious, but don't really regrow very much. Of course poisonous weeds should be avoided or removed before grazing. (I have Milkweed in one pasture and just pull it up before grazing. )
Various grasses- I'm not sure what varieties I have. I do have Quack grass and about 5 other kinds of grass. Grasses generally do well in cool weather.
Red Clover- I have a newly seeded 5 acre pasture of about 90% red clover. I have not grazed it yet this year and it is very tall- about 4 ft. (I'm also planning to frost seed some other pasture with red clover next spring.) Red clover is very nutritious, but can cause bloat if the animals are not used to it and/or it is wet. The other downside is red clover is hard to dry for hay. Red clover does well in hot dry weather. A local sheep farm flushes their ewes on about 20-30% red clover and they do not have fertility problems. (They have about 210% lambing.) Clovers have a lot of estrogen and are supposed to cause fertility problems in sheep. I do not know if I'll take the chance and feed my ewes red clover at breeding time or not.
June grass- I don't like June grass as the sheep don't eat it very much and it does not get very tall.
Birdsfoot Trefoil- sheep love it! Trefoil is like a non-bloating alfalfa. It does well in heat and has a high tannin level so helps reduce parasites. An added bonus is honey bees love it. Last year they preferred it over alfalfa (from neighboring fields) and clovers. The only down side is it can be hard to establish. When I planted it I intentionally overgrazed to kill/stunt the grasses in the pasture before planting it by no till drill. Then I let it sit all summer and fall without cutting it or grazing it. I did graze it after it froze hard (about Oct./Nov.) You do need to let it rest from Sep. until the first killing frost. This does take planning to have these pastures rest until then!

Alfalfa- I only have a small amount of alfalfa in one pasture. I have not had any trouble with bloat, but alfalfa gets steamy when mature and also can get killed easily by over grazing or just not having enough time to rest in between grazings. Of the two alfalfa is better for hay while Trefoil is better for grazing.

Saturday, June 6, 2009

Intensive rotational grazing

Intensive rotational grazing is the best type of grazing in my opinion. Intensive rotational grazing means moving the animals every 12 hours to 4 or 5 days. I move my sheep every 2 days and a lot of grazing dairy cow people move the cows every 12 hours-every milking. The reasons to move the animals so often are somewhat dependent on ones schedule (I don't have time to move my sheep every 12 hours.) The pen/paddock sizes depend on how much forage there is, how many animals there are and how long you want them on that area. It takes just a few rotations to be able to figure out how much they will eat in that amount of time you want to give them.

Why bother rotating? The reasons are quite simple. All grazing animals will eat their favorite grasses/plants down to the dirt and kill them off, leaving the forages the don't like as much to get hard and mature. When you move them often they don't get that choice and the pastures are healthier and you actually can feed more animals on that amount of land. Another reason is parasites. If you are constantly moving them to a new patch of grass they are not going to be eating grass that they pooped on a week ago. You keep them off it until the grass regrows. When you put them back on that is usually that is enough time to kill off most parasites. Also if you leave a 2-3 in residue the animals will not ingest many parasites. (Parasites stay down close the the dirt where it is cool.) Also since you are always moving them the water tubs will be moved with them preventing that mud/manure build up and the sheep will be cleaner.

What kind of fencing do I use? I use electro netting as well as permanent fencing for my sheep and goats. I use a single strand of electric fence and step in posts for the heifer and steer.

Here is a picture of the electro netting rolled up.
Here is a picture of the electro netting in use. There are two strands up right now. When I need to move the sheep and goats I'll put a third strand up behind them and they will move on. The right hand side has been grazed. There is permanent fence on two side of this paddock.

Here is a picture of the cattle fence in use. I use a small battery fencer (the blue box.)

Here is the extra fence that is not in use. I'll use this to make the next pen and after they cattle move I'll take down the old pen's fence. I do move the cattle every day as they don't graze as nicely as sheep and goats.

One can use electric fence on a reel for sheep, but you need 4-6 strands. (I think the netting is easier, but I have not tried it.)

I'll talk about what forages I have and want in my pasture on my next post.