I have a steep hill side that I am tired of weed eating. Most of the time, I have to pay someone to do it cause I don't have the time. I like the fact that Llama pick one spot for a toilet. Can keep critters away. I hope that a little critter control will allow me to have chickens again. My last ones got eaten. I have 5 acres total and out of that I mow about 90%. I have 2 acre fenced in area that is fenced for horses. I will need to fence the entire hill side. I estimate it to be 2 acres. I plan to put the llama into the back field until it establish a toilet area and then move some poo to the front hill side padlock. That way I can pick there poo spot at the top of the hill instead of the bottom. I plan to put a llama and maybe a couple sheep in the front all of spring and summer and then move them to the back field for the winter. I'm planing on doing all electric in the front using step in post for the runs and t-post for corners and turns, using poly tape. Adding one strand in the back field. I've picked out the yardmaster for a energizer. http://www.gallagherusa.com/electric-fencing/permanent.component.aspx?mktprodid=5940 If anyone can poke holes in my plan I'm all ears. What height from the ground should the tape be for sheep and Llama's? How many strands of poly tape should a put on the fence? How much shelter do Llama and sheep need during the summer? The back field has a small horse barn. How many critters will 4 acres of Ky pasture land sustain? Do llama's and sheep have to be wormed regularly like goats do? Do llama's and or sheep eat tree saplings? If so what kind of tree cages should I use? How much feed will I have to supplement in winter? I have a 6 by 18 ft trailer with 1 foot sides. I read that Llama lay down when traveling can I tether it to the center of the trailer? What about sheep? Do male ram sheep smell as bad as billy goats?
I'm sure I'll have more questions. Thank you for time.
I have sheep, but no llama, so I'll just focus on what I've found works for me with sheep. I have hair sheep (no shearing) and I keep a miniature donkey with them as a guardian animal. I don't seem to have a lot of predator activity, so I don't really know if he's effective or not, but I haven't had any predator losses yet.
As far as the poo issue, I wonder why you wouldn't want it in the grass where it can do more good? Sheep manure in my experience is dry and nearly odorless basically 100% of the time. If you are doing high density rotational grazing the boost in soil life will make sure your manure load vanishes in hours or at most days anyway, and only about 10% of your pasture will have animals on it at any given time.
For containing them, I don't use poly tape so I don't know for sure how much you'd need, but Greg Judy (in "Comeback Farms") I believe says he can contain them with 2-3 strands for inter-paddock divisions and a 5 wire high-tensile perimeter fence. I use electric poultry netting for mine, and just pick up the paddock and move it around the place every day or two (takes about 20 minutes to move the fence). I don't have a perimeter fence yet, but I'll be putting in high tensile electric this winter if all goes well.
I'd recommend getting the best charger you can afford. I'm a little suspicious of the $50 model you linked to, though I don't know much about the brand. The charger is about the most important part of your fencing system, so it's really worth getting one you can rely on. Look for higher stored energy (0.2 J on a grid-powered charger is really low). I use a Patriot P30 charger from premier, which is rated at 30 miles of fence and 4.6 Joules. It's $168 on premier1supplies, and it comes with the option of hooking it to a battery/solar system with no special gear or modifications. I've been happy with it so far, but when the ground is wet with lots of weeds and I have 4 sections of netting, the shock does get pretty weak. I'd be afraid the animals would not respect a smaller amount of energy.
If you get hair sheep, they are super hardy. They can be outside all year long without shelter, though I'd recommend giving them a place to get out of the sun/rain/wind/snow etc. My shelter is currently a bent piece of cattle panel with a tarp on it, and they seem to love it. I'll be building them a better hovel for the winter, but the cattle panel option is nice because it's very lightweight and durable. Hair sheep don't need worming, hoof trimming, shearing, or other interference in general. They don't need help lambing or mothering. They're great animals in my opinion, and they're a hoot to watch, too.
If your 4 acres is lush grass and broadleaf forbs, you could probably get 6-8 sheep per acre on it. If it's not as lush, you'll do less. I think the best policy would probably to start out with a conservative number and add or subtract as you see how they progress through your pasture. You'll get a lot better pasture improvement and more carrying capacity if you do high density grazing (i.e. holistic management or MiG). I'd highly recommend getting your hands on a copy of Greg Judy's "Comeback Farms" if you can manage it. The book is jammed with practical experience and useful tips, especially regarding fencing.
Thanks for the info. I have never heard of hair sheep before. I surfed over to craigslist and found them for sell in my area. Had thought about a donkey, but thought the up keep would more than a llama?
Like I say, I've never raised a llama so I don't know anything about their upkeep. I can say that my donkey's upkeep is basically the same as the sheep... he just lives out in the pasture with them and is in charge of taking care of himself. I'm gradually training him to pull a cart and hopefully to wear a saddle, but he hasn't required any special treatment as of yet other than that.
On thing I've read since I got him is that you should get a female (oops, now I know..). I've also heard that they work best in pairs. Llamas are really cool too though; very friendly. Their main tactic for defending the animals is to look directly at a predator and walk toward it. If it comes to a tussle, a donkey or a dog is much better equipped to take care of itself. I ended up choosing the donkey because I didn't want the hassle of keeping the sheep out of the dog food (I'm raising grass-finished animals, so grain is a no-no).
I also have goats running in the mob and they seem to complement the grazing/browsing patterns of the other animals. They can be more difficult to contain, but as long as I keep them on fresh pasture paddocks it hasn't been an issue.
It's taking a long time, but my fencing is complete. I got a 6 strands of high tensile with a 6 joule box that says it will charge 100 miles of fence around the entire property other than my drive way. My inside fence that goes around my house and yard is 4 plank horse fence with 7 inch post and goat wire back. I still got a bunch of old wire fence to get rid of, and need to build some kind of cage for my trailer and I'll be ready to buy some animals. I would like to thank everyone for posting such grate info. Thanks Paul, for your website and podcast have really helped me live a better life.
How in the world did people market lawn mowers "back in the day"? I know I'm still a new sheep owner, but it seams pretty easy. I got a massive riding mower, cost a lot of money and I still have to ride it, put gas in it. Today I opened a gate and watched the sheep chow down for about 5 min, began other projects that I wanted to do, but never get around to do spending so much time mowing the grass. I'm looking for my next huge permaculture time saving project.
We used to have llamas--one warning. There is a parasite or worm that deer carry that will kill llamas quickly. You need to give them a shot every month (and that is every 30-31 days, 35 days is too long) or they WILL DIE if there are any whitetail deer in the area.
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"Family farms work when the whole family works the farm." -- Adam Klaus