• Post Reply
  • Bookmark Topic Watch Topic
  • New Topic

Sheep Self-harvesting Root Vegetables

 
Ian Petrie
Posts: 15
Location: Tuffnell, SK. Zone 3B
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
I was wondering if anyone has any experience in feeding sheep sugar beets, fodder radish, etc. by letting them graze the leaves and then eat the root out of the ground. Farmers around here have told me about people doing it, but it always seems to be a case of 'my buddy heard from this guy he heard that guy was doing that' and I can't seem to talk to anyone who actually has experience with that sort of feeding system. Google has also failed me.
I'm wondering how well sheep would do on roots alone, or what sort of other supplement they need to make it a good source of feed. Do they dig down and eat it out of the ground well? Would they dig through snow to eat them if I left the tops as guides? Any information would be great! Thanks!
 
John Polk
master steward
Pie
Posts: 8018
Location: Currently in Lake Stevens, WA. Home in Spokane
269
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Pigs will certainly do it. But, sheep? Perhaps if they were starving.
I look at pigs as 'rooters' and opportunists.
Sheep are more of a grazer in my mind.

 
Ian Petrie
Posts: 15
Location: Tuffnell, SK. Zone 3B
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
I had a bit of a mishap getting a bale into the sheep's pen the other day that had it fall into a pile and the sheep stomped it into a pancake fairly fast. Even with a new bale of the same good quality hay in there, and with space to eat it some of the sheep are still digging down up to eight inches to find the really good stuff (alfalfa leaves, etc.). This leads me to think they might dig for food if it's good and they like it, even without pushing them to eat it.
 
Joseph Fields
Posts: 170
Location: Berea, Kentucky
1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
I been have thinking alone the same lines. Sheep will definitely eat sweet potato's and the tops. As far as sheep digging up the potato
s I don't know. I have fenced off sunchoke's during the growing season, then took the fencing down during winter so the sheep could eat them, as well as cut sunchoke stalks and put them up in the barn for the winter. I think with proper planning you could grow all your winter fodder. Sweet potato's can yield 6,000 pounds per acre. At 360 cals per pound plus the tops, that's a whole lotta of cals. When I grow sweet potato's I have a lot culls, that are not big enough or too huge to make baking potato's for me and the family.
 
David Livingston
steward
Pie
Posts: 2604
Location: Anjou ,France
102
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
I knew a farmer who would grow turnips And manglewurzels ( http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mangelwurzel )
Let them eat the tops then over the Winter gradually plough them up a bit at a Time for the sheep And beasts to eat , along with some hay.

David
 
Cj Sloane
pollinator
Posts: 3646
Location: Vermont, off grid for 22 years!
78
bee chicken fungi solar trees
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Ian Petrie wrote:Would they dig through snow to eat them if I left the tops as guides?


They would eat all the tops well before looking for the roots so there would be no guide. I don't think they could dig through frozen ground, and even then, they couldn't eat the frozen roots because they are too large.

When I give my sheep apples, they will sometimes take bites, and sometimes they will smash them first with their head to break them into smaller pieces. Not sure what they could do with frozen apples.
 
Kris schulenburg
Posts: 112
Location: Henry County Ky Zone 6
4
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
my sheep don't dig them up but eat sugar beets down to about 1'' to 2'' diameter (how ever deep that is in the ground). They also don't eat them all at once but work on them a little every day. I don't know what they would do in snow.
 
Ian Petrie
Posts: 15
Location: Tuffnell, SK. Zone 3B
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Thanks for all the information, everyone. Kris and Joseph, how would you present the root veggies to the sheep? Would it be just a field of the veggies, or would it be seeded in a mixed pasture?
 
Kris schulenburg
Posts: 112
Location: Henry County Ky Zone 6
4
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
they get to clean up the garden in the fall, so i leave sugar beets and radishes in the ground and they eat them a little at a time.
 
Joseph Fields
Posts: 170
Location: Berea, Kentucky
1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Ian Petrie wrote:Thanks for all the information, everyone. Kris and Joseph, how would you present the root veggies to the sheep? Would it be just a field of the veggies, or would it be seeded in a mixed pasture?
My garden has pasture all the way around it. So I toss the tops over the fence as I harvest. The cull taters I put in dog food bags and feed 1/2 pound per sheep a couple times a week until gone.
 
Abbey Myrick
Posts: 14
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Ian Petrie wrote:I was wondering if anyone has any experience in feeding sheep sugar beets, fodder radish, etc. by letting them graze the leaves and then eat the root out of the ground. Farmers around here have told me about people doing it, but it always seems to be a case of 'my buddy heard from this guy he heard that guy was doing that' and I can't seem to talk to anyone who actually has experience with that sort of feeding system. Google has also failed me.
I'm wondering how well sheep would do on roots alone, or what sort of other supplement they need to make it a good source of feed. Do they dig down and eat it out of the ground well? Would they dig through snow to eat them if I left the tops as guides? Any information would be great! Thanks!


Maybe it depends on the sheep and their feed? We have Icelandics and Tunis. While researching which breeds would work for grass fed intensive rotational grazing systems, I fell head over heals for the icelandics based on their hardiness. In Iceland they can't grow much grain at all and in the winter supposedly icelandics would dig through the snow to eat the grass. Deer do this too, when it snows around here I see their tracks leading to holes in the snow where they are foraging.
I don't doubt if sheep were hungry they could dig up roots. But they might not get it if they are pampered and then suddenly expected to dig up roots. That seems like a survival skill their mums would have to teach them.

This thread gave me an idea tho to try planting a section of root veggies in their winter paddock. It takes them about five days when they get brought in from the pasture for the winter to decimate their winter paddocks meager grass covering. I wonder if they are sitting around bored in the paddock if they would try digging up some tasty morsels? If not, at least they would eat the tops and we could eat the bottoms. Or the chickens would dig them up...
 
I agree. Here's the link: http://stoves2.com
  • Post Reply
  • Bookmark Topic Watch Topic
  • New Topic