Hey folks got a couple of questions: 1. Can I get too wide in my spacing between berms and swales? Looking at 104". That distance will allow me to easily calculate grazing acres and would accomodate any equipment, but is that to wide to allow me to effectively manage my water? Not sure of exact slope, but land is rolling hills. Hope to establish berms and swales this fall/winter and plant native grasses late winter/early spring. Will eventually be silvopasture with trees along the berms and swales.
2. Tree fodder? Anyone doing it either by 1. letting the ruminant animal harvest, or 2. harvesting and feeding to the animal, and if so, what species are you using? I am in SW Arkansas zone 7b.
On question 2, it will happen on its own. The landscape changed when i added cows. I can now see through a tree area where before i couldnt. They'll eat leaves as hi as they can reach . They LOVE mustang grape leaves. The vines will be hanging out of their mouth like a noodle as they slowly bring it in, stem and all.
Same with my sheep except add non deciduous trees like ash juniper.
I occasionally snip branches the sheep cant reach and let it fall so they can eat the leaves. Its more an occasional snack but could be geared up to provide more of their nutrition.
I am not really sure what you are asking on the first question, what the basic shape of the swaleshould be in terms of width? If so that is based on what you use for equipment to shape it. With me, I use a small bulldozer, so my width is around 8 feet, but if I shaped it using a tractor with a plow and grader blade, it would be around 6 feet. But if you mean the distance between the swales, then that depends on topography and no set distance.
As for the second question, Wayne is spot on, and I do the same thing for my sheep. They are great because they like browse, weeds and grass. But I think what you mean is using leaves for winter feed. There are some people doing just that, and one woman from Vermont is on here who had some success with it. I do not have enough information to say it works or does not. I am open-minded to it as I think it would be nice to develop some equipment to harvest leaves for winter feed as I absolutely hate the hay bale and the equipment costs associated with it, YET...I have no idea what the nutritional value of such a feed is. Me...I cannot seem to get my diet in line no matter how much my Dr nags, yet my sheep have a sheep nutritionist. I take livestock nutrition very seriously.
Thanks for the input guys!
The measure I am looking for is the width of the alley. Will be using a blade and/or one-way plow behind a tractor to create the berm. (Would love to use a dozer, but this is what I have)
Actually am not looking to create and harvest tree hay, but am looking for species that can be coppiced or pollarded or just browsed by the animals. Animals I am speaking of would be sheep and cattle. Steve Gabriel in NY is doing work with black locust, mulberry, willow, and poplar in such a manner.
I've never used this tool, but someone posted this on Permies a while back: Swale Calculator
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I would have swales every 50ft. (40ft-60ft)
Which would also be my spacing between my rows of silvo pasture trees. (Double rows of trees 4ft by 8ft)
I would make my swales no deeper than 2ft and about 8ft wide.