Friday, June 13, 2008

Too Much Grass, is such a thing possible for a grass farmer?

It's a worthy question , as we always want lots of grass can we in fact have too much? The true answer for a grass farmer would be never too much. But for a grazier like my self we can have too much at the wrong stage of growth. This is very noticeable this year as we do not have enough sheep to keep up with the spring flush of grass, much of it gets ahead of the sheep producing seed heads and loosing quality for grazing so we will have to pull these paddocks out of the grazing rotation and cut them for hay. The paddocks that the sheep have grazed and have produced seed heads have to be clipped after the sheep have grazed to remove the seed heads so as to encourage the plants to produce the more palatable green leaves we desire for grazing.
The bottom photo shows three stages, in the foreground is a paddock we have grazed and then clipped, note the brown clippings in rows, they will rot down and provide food for the grass so it is not wasted. On the far side by the line of trees is a paddock the sheep have grazed but needs to be clipped and to the front and right is the flock and they have just moved into a new "break".
The third photo shows some of our electrified mesh fence which is portable and can be easily rolled up and put up in a new paddock. We have 17 rolls so we can set up for a weeks grazing at a time and contrary to the sceptics it does not take long, about 3 hours for a weeks grazing. With a bigger flock and more moves per week the labour goes up but costed out on a per head basis the cost actually goes down with a bigger flock. Yes, we have more grass, now we need more sheep!
The first photo shows a paddock they have just finished note the lack of green leaves and clover in the lower part of the sward. Compare it to the second photo which shows them in the new "break" where there is lots of green leaves, this small area will do them for 2-3 days and then we will move them , clip the pasture and be back to graze it in 3 -4 weeks.

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