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Best option for grass control?

 
Tim Canton
Posts: 175
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So my main goal in this is to not have to spend hours mowing grass each week. Its a little over an acre of grass and its going to be a little time until I can further develop that area so i am thinking rotated animals in this area will improve the soil as an early succession strategy. I personally like the idea of goats more than sheep but I know they are browsers ans not grazers. I could put them in a place to browse when the grass stop growing but again the grass control is a main goal here. Dairy would be really nice also as wood wool. I suppose meat would be good too but we don't currently eat much lamb so if keeping sheep dairy would trump meat.. We don't want any really big breeds.

Does anyone have breed suggesstions that might fit the above? Shetlands and Babydolls have been recommended to me but I am trying to make an informed decision about it.

I am open to goats/ sheep and we also have chickens we will either run in the same paddock or run them through after the sheep/goats.

Thanks all
 
mick mclaughlin
Posts: 200
Location: Augusta,Ks
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Tim Canton wrote:So my main goal in this is to not have to spend hours mowing grass each week. Its a little over an acre of grass and its going to be a little time until I can further develop that area so i am thinking rotated animals in this area will improve the soil as an early succession strategy. I personally like the idea of goats more than sheep but I know they are browsers ans not grazers. I could put them in a place to browse when the grass stop growing but again the grass control is a main goal here. Dairy would be really nice also as wood wool. I suppose meat would be good too but we don't currently eat much lamb so if keeping sheep dairy would trump meat.. We don't want any really big breeds.

Does anyone have breed suggesstions that might fit the above? Shetlands and Babydolls have been recommended to me but I am trying to make an informed decision about it.

I am open to goats/ sheep and we also have chickens we will either run in the same paddock or run them through after the sheep/goats.

Thanks all


A vegetable garden, or a lawnmower, will consume less overall time then a critter.

I know nothing about sheep, a little about goats. 1 acre aint much, 50 chickens could almost keep it grazed.
 
Joseph Fields
Posts: 170
Location: Berea, Kentucky
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Sheep are social critters, so you would need a few. I use sheep as mowers myself. This is going to depend how where you are, what kind of solar exposure you have. Price of winter hay and fuel in your area.
 
Katy Whitby-last
Posts: 280
Location: North East Scotland
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Have you though about geese? They are good grazers for a small acreage.
 
Tim Canton
Posts: 175
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Joseph Fields wrote: Sheep are social critters, so you would need a few. I use sheep as mowers myself. This is going to depend how where you are, what kind of solar exposure you have. Price of winter hay and fuel in your area.


Im in western north carolina mountains. Usually plenty of rain and sunshine. Mostly good solar exposure. I was thinking only 2 or 3 and a small breed.

I havent really considered geese because I dont see the secondary yields to keeping them.

 
Joseph Fields
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Location: Berea, Kentucky
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I spend less on winter hay now than I did on mowing before. I'm definitely not trying to shoot you down. I have five acres, I overwi terd five ewes and two mini donkeys. I do a late lambing so that about the time my lambs are weaned my grass is growing good.How much experience do you have with sheep? Have you ever given shots, trimming hooves?
 
Tim Canton
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Mick, a lawnmower won't poop or give me wool and 50 chickens , even on pasture , will be a lot of feed input.

Joe, I don't have sheep experience but when better than now right?
 
Katy Whitby-last
Posts: 280
Location: North East Scotland
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The problem with sheep is that 1 acre is very little land on which to keep them. If you were just fattening a couple of lambs for slaughter it would probably be viable but you say that you aren't keen on lamb. For using sheep as dairy producers you need to breed which then means space to keep a tup separate from your ewes and sufficient grazing for tup, ewes and lambs. I just don't think that is possible on such a small area. If you were to try sheep, it would need to be a very small primitive breed and raising for meat. With these breeds you have the issue that fleece quality is often not great and they aren't any good for dairying. My neighbours kept Zwarbtles, one of the dairy breeds, but found they ate about 3 times as much as their other sheep.
 
Tim Canton
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Thanks for the input. That is a concern. I was planning on keeping two ewes and using a lock ram stud for breeding purposes. Definitely don't want to be overstocked , hmmmmmm

I've read recently about folks keeping Shetlands stocked at six per acre and they were fine
 
Katy Whitby-last
Posts: 280
Location: North East Scotland
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forest garden goat trees
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The real problem with working out an appropriate stocking density is that it is different for every bit of land. There are places where 6 sheep an acre is fine, there are places where 1 sheep per 6 acres is all that the land can support. What you want to be careful to avoid is overstocking and then having to buy in a lot of supplemental feed. Also in order to reduce worm burdens you need to rotate your grazing. You will need to subdivide the land so that you can rest it. The average life cycle of intestinal worms is 16-21 days so you really want to be moving them onto fresh land every 15 days. You then want to be able to rest the land. The is the time to put your chickens on.

If you are breeding from your ewes, and both have twins or triplets you suddenly have a lot of sheep on a small area. Last year when all of my ewes had twins I ended up renting some summer grazing as the grass wasn't growing very well here as it was unseasonably dry. I was lucky that it belonged to a friend and was mainly paid for in eggs but I downsized to 5 ewes at the end of last year (I have 7 acres and with 7 ewes, 14 lambs, the tup and his weather companion my flock size was too big)
 
Tim Canton
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Right I know it the typical permaculture response of it depends. The Shetlands I was referencing because the article was stating they can live off very little due to maintaining the primitive genes.
I am pretty well versed in rotational grazing concept. I plan on using portable fence so Ivan rotate without perimeter fencing and was planning on running chickens behind them to help with the process and clean up larvae etc. I'll have to do some more thinking
 
L. Zell
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Location: Missouri
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Others may have different opinions, but, I'm getting rid of my Shetlands. They are just too wild for me to easily work with in small areas. I like their wool, but I can't handle the crazy. I've had them since they were lambs, and four years later, I'm at the end of my rope. I adore my goats, so they get to stay I have heard that Soays have a similar issue.
 
Katy Whitby-last
Posts: 280
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If you are using portable electric netting you need to get a non horned breed as they can get their horns caught in the net and die. If you are using stranded electric you need it spaced very close together as it doesn't work great for sheep as their fleece means they don't feel much of the effect.
 
Joseph Fields
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Location: Berea, Kentucky
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Keeping critters from eatting your sheep is another issue you may have. Different sheep have different personality even the same breed. You may need to plan for some catch shoots, or cattle panels to make your lot small enough to catch them up. I got one kat that will follow me anytime I'm around. Another one would rather run thru fire than to be handled. Took me forever to catch up her two day old lambs this spring.
 
Joseph Fields
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Location: Berea, Kentucky
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On the other side of the fence is Not having to cut the stupid grass!!I love it, just this week I was asking my co workers to go for a hike, two where behind on yard work due to a long work week. Not me, I went hiking and spent my time working in my garden.
 
Cj Sloane
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Location: Vermont, off grid for 22 years!
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mick mclaughlin wrote:
A vegetable garden, or a lawnmower, will consume less overall time then a critter.

I know nothing about sheep, a little about goats. 1 acre aint much, 50 chickens could almost keep it grazed.


I disagree, especially if you are going to buy the sheep in spring and slaughter in the fall. Just takes minutes a day to check on them and move them. If you want to keep the lawn looking like lawn sheep would be much better than chickens who will dig dirt bath holes for themselves.

I have sheep and occasionally let them free range in my "lawn" area and I never have to mow. Other than that they are in paddocks.
 
Bryant RedHawk
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goats will work too, they will eat pasture grass if that is what they have to eat. plus if you want to clear brush, they will be oh so happy to do that for you.
 
Marie Gifford
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I raise (horned) Icelandic sheep. They are a primitive, triple purpose breed. I move my flock at least every 3 days using electric netting. I live in an area that has a pretty big coyote population and the electric netting has controlled any predator losses. The only sheep I have lost to getting tangled up in the netting have come from farms that do not use the netting the way I do. Lambs are exposed to the netting from day one and I make sure it is at least 7-8000 volts. I currently have 55 sheep. Icelandics are seasonal breeders so you can keep the ram and ewes together year round if you sell the lambs each fall. The biggest problem I see is that if you want a 'mowed' look to this area then you will be grazing too short. Short grass will dramatically increase your worm loads. With my rotation and quality mineral mix I have not needed to do any type of deworming on my animals for 3 years. If an animal shows signs of less of an ability to withstand a worm load (weight loss or consistently light eye pigment) then they are culled.

I do use a solid panel chute system (portable) to handle my sheep, just because it is easier for me to handle that many animals by myself.

 
wayne fajkus
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A chicken tractor or two, moved a few feet twice a week, should do the trick.
 
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