I'm new to livestock and decided to do something with my land besides bush hog it. I bought 12 Katahdin ewes in the fall and added a ram in January. I have around 10 acres of pasture, so I'd like to add another 15 ewes or so in the next year. Obviously, portable systems are the best for pasture and parasite management. I'd love to have at least one freeze proof waterer to use during the winter when lows can get into the single digits. Also, cool water from one of these will encourage more consumption.
My shed is currently in the southern part of the second picture and this is where I've been rotating my Katahdins this winter. I chose this spot because my Gallagher smart fences will barely reach the corners by the road. Eventually, I'd like to build a 24x36ish barn for winter feeding, hay storage, etc. and also handling facilities. West and north of the house are steep, so the main barn couldn't go there.
I'm new to livestock and don't want to make anything permanent without some advice from you all. Do my proposed sites for the sheds and waterers(three pink boxes) make any sense at all? I've had trouble with only 13 sheep getting the paddocks small enough for them to travel in and out of the shed area because it's so tight. Hopefully, when my numbers go up, it will help to widen the paddocks.
Anyway, if this was your farm how would you arrange waterers, paddocks, main barn, sheds, etc? Any help would be greatly appreciated!
I like the water locations. Center is best if it can be engineered. When its in a corner or on a fence, they go to it in one direction and thus disturb the ground so that you lose the grass. You'll get much less trampling since access is spread 360 degrees.
I would not get in a hurry to get the extra sheep. See how the land manages with what you have. But keep in mind every female will have one baby and the second birthing they may have twins or triplets. So your 15 sheep will turn into 45 real quick. Not sure what your plans are for them but would like to hear your longterm plans.
Thanks, Wayne! I bought the ewes from a neighbor for $150 ea and should be able to get that much out of my ewe lambs. So my plan is to but ewes from him and sell my lambs so that I don't have to sell my ram anytime soon. There's a huge buyer and producer about 100 miles from me that supplies several Whole Foods locations. I was going to raise them to his specifications anyway, so I'll probably sell to him. He pays a pretty fair price year-round.
I just have to get my management plan together so that I can streamline the operation a little better.
We started with 3 ewes and lost all all of them over 3 years. The ram is still good. The first had a false preganancy (udder filled with milk) but we had no ram at the time. Second died of pneumonia while pregnant but it was warm. The third did the same on new years eve the next year. Vet blamed dust as a potential problem.
When we picked up 3 more(different breed to see if it would help), i noticed hay spread in the pens. That seemed a logical solution to the dust so we implemented that in our program. As a stacking function that has been great as it is now our primary mulch for my garden and trees. A win win in my mind.
Past the deaths, the sheep have been easy. Birthing just happens with no interference on our part.
We did get a bonus when we bought the last batch. One was known to be pregnant and we payed slightly more for her. Another was unknown to be pregant which was the bonus. Because of different father, we integrated the babies into the flock. From economics viewpoint, ask about pregnant ewes when you add to flock.
I would nix the permanent waterers altogether and go with a mobile option. I'd recommend this anyway, but I'd especially recommend it for starting out. Get a feel for the best way to use the land before making anything permanent.
The amount of sheep you're talking about will not require a large amount of water anyway, so even if you have to chip ice or run fresh water every day during winter, you're really not looking at a huge workload.
Centralized watering points tend to concentrate stock and lead to uneven pasture wear and manure distribution. By using portable water points, you'll likely save money, you have the freedom to put water and fence wherever you want (rather than having to set up paddocks for access to a permanent point), and you avoid excess trampling and manure concentration. It'll add a bit of time to your daily chores, but it's also a great opportunity/excuse to take a couple extra minutes to look over your stock.
At the very least, I'd suggest the portable option for the first couple years. Once you're sure you have a working system, maybe, maybe you then put in a permanent solution.
I recommend checking out the YouTube videos about using mobbing pasture management techniques, which sort of makes your whole operation a mobile plan. The idea is to devise a plan that keeps your flock bunched up on small portions of your total pasture, so that you can manage the growth of the GRASSES BY USING THE NATURAL GRAZING PROPERTIES OF YOUR LIVESTOCK. The grasses are allowed to grow past the usual maturity, as is explained in the video. using solar-powered electric fences allow you to plan the movements of the flock over your entire property. This will spread the manure more evenly and will minimize problems with pathogens. This method will also encourage a variety of native grass species, and you will be honing your observation skills in the process. You will be adapting the pasture management to the size of your flock. I am not in good enough health to start on such a plan on my desert open range but were I younger and in better shape, I would be studying the use of these methods.