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woods/brush to silvopasture? via thinning, overseeding, grazing

 
kadence blevins
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Location: SE Ohio
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I will be doing a video of my pastures as soon as weather allows. I would very much like any insight or ideas about doing this though.

currently I have 2 ewe sheep (getting more soon!) on two small paddocks which total about an acre. This was all quite overgrown weedy/brushy. paddock 1 got the sheep first and have since moved to paddock 2.

* In paddock 1 I am working on knocking down the remaining standing dead brush and will be going over the area by hand and overseeding.

* In paddock 2 the sheep will be staying a good while longer than needed to give paddock 1 time to start growing in the spring before returning them there. and because paddock 2 is so much more overgrown than paddock 1 was. I will need the added stomping work and eating down the weeds that I don't want growing back in so strongly. this paddock will also be overseeded then. there will be a lot of work hand chopping out the brush though.

the two paddocks only have a couple small trees started in them from the area not being mowed or anything. the trees are either black walnut or 'tree of heaven'. if they are walnuts I will leave them in, if not permanently but for the time being as they aren't big at all. If they turn out to be 'tree of heaven' those evil suckers are coming out and I will do whatever it takes to keep them out. there is a lot of those stupid pointless trees on the farm here and they colonize and nothing eats them.

now comes the real task.. The old goat pasture..
*its about 5acres give or take
*runs down a valley with about 80% of it being on one hillside and the other 20% being the little creekbed and up the other hillside
*a small creek runs down the valley. unsure if I can do much work on the spring area at the start of it. there is also several smaller inlets of water along the creek via water coming down off the hillsides.
*the pasture is about half overgrown brush and about half brushy/woods
*currently all one pasture fenced together. in the future I would hope to divide it at least into three sections probably.
*when my family had goats still this pasture ran 6 milk does, all the goat kids (about 2months in spring before selling), two bucks for two months in fall/winter. also two years had a horse mare and a gelding pony and a jersey steer. that was year round. So I know the land CAN handle quite a lot when it gets into a rhythm and I hope to get it even better with rotating the paddocks and variety of animals.

my main animal is the sheep. I aim to have a flock of about 20 adults, that's the plan right now anyhow. I need to get down the road to talk to the neighbor about buying two bottle calf steers from them. and if I come across a couple nice goats I would like to have two does for milk just for myself (unsure if standard or pygmy/Nigerians, really depends on what I find). and having had goats before I am not keeping animals that refuse to stay in a fence!

Trees that I know of in the pasture would be mainly black walnut. maybe a couple birch. and I know in one area there is a few with some kind of nuts but I don't know what kind of trees they are.
My idea right now really just being to thin out the trees, rotate the animals through, and overseed the area. overseeding the thinned woods area wouldn't be until fall or next year probably. I think a lot will grow in naturally once the trees are thinned though.

let me know what yall think. pics and video hopefully soon.
 
kadence blevins
Posts: 595
Location: SE Ohio
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found this video today. trying to do more research on this so I can be well prepared in spring/summer to be thinning out trees and overseeding.

 
Tyler Ludens
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Location: Central Texas USA Latitude 30 Zone 8
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Is there a particular reason why you want pasture and not forest, that is, a reason you want herbivores who graze rather than those who browse? For instance if you want wool sheep instead of hair sheep, you wouldn't want a lot of brush for them to mess up their fleeces, so you'd definitely want pasture. I think my sheep (Jacobs) would be happier in a forest than in a pasture as they love eating tree branches! I think most people when they think of herbivores they immediately think "I need pasture" but I'm wondering if pasture is really necessary if the herbivore is a browser. When I see people fortunate enough to have these beautiful dense woods who want to clear them for pasture, I wish we could trade! I wonder if little meadow clearings within these forests might be a thing to try, rather than trees dotted about a pasture.....

I realized my comments are not only "off topic" but "off forum"! Oh well!
 
kadence blevins
Posts: 595
Location: SE Ohio
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not at all, thank you for your comment. My sheep are for wool although I am looking into buying one or two katahdins (hair sheep) to see how they do. But as a handspinner the wool is my main goal. meat and lamb sales would be supplemental.

the land here tends to grow back into this wild mess quickly. I already have goat experience so having a couple goats that I can milk and sell babies will be great as well as the better weed eaters.

the area has had these animals before, as I mentioned. but with my move to mainly the sheep I want good fleeces. not weed seed collector a la hoof! which is what happens. although I am looking into some covers to try as well for that. but either way a lot of the area as it is right now is completely impassible. I'm talking multi-flora rose taller than I am, stumps thick as my wrist, and most areas too dense to see more than a foot into it.

hence I was thinking a good medium would be a silvopasture anyhow. I don't want to get rid of the trees. actually I mainly want to thin out the junk trees and in the more open areas later plant some usable trees.
 
Travis Johnson
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It is a common myth, but in reality all sheep browse. Like most things they have their preference with sheep enjoying weeds over browse, but how how they love leaves and brush too. A lot of times I see people purchasing goats to graze down forest into usable fields, when honestly sheep would do better because they are more of a dual purpose breed. It is why the settlers in New England had sheep and seldom goats; they would fell the trees, then let the sheep clean up browse and weeds that began to grow in as the forest was cleared. But of course these same animals gave out the all important wool that kept them warm all winter long too. Add in milk after lambing and you got an animal that really works well for very little upkeep.

I had issues grazing cattle along with my sheep and will never do that again, but it can be done.

 
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