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Feeding Sheep Mowed Grass...Can You Do It?

Discussion in 'Feeding Time - Sheep' started by SandyC, May 22, 2010.

  1. May 22, 2010
    SandyC

    SandyC Just born

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    Hi,

    I am just getting my first Shetland Sheep in a few weeks. They are going to be grazing on my pastures and some yard areas. I was wondering if it was OK to use grass that I have mowed well, dried to feed to the sheep? It is after all the same stuff they will be eating anyway.

    This would buy me a little time to get my hay in place, which I still need to do.

    Thanks
  2. May 22, 2010
    Beekissed

    Beekissed Loving the herd life

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    Other folks have done it and it worked out just fine. Just make sure it is fully dry before storing. Freemotion on here uses her own grass as hay for her goats.
  3. May 22, 2010
    SandyC

    SandyC Just born

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    Thank you for answering. So what would be the best way to bundle it up and store it?
  4. May 22, 2010
    goodhors

    goodhors Overrun with beasties

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    Either feed it immediately or dry it like hay. Cut grass will start fermenting, which might not bother your sheep, but possibly could. The thicker the cut grass you leave behind, clumping, windrows after cutting, will make fermentation faster, will not allow drying of the cut grasses because it is so thick.

    Mowed grass is not a good choice for horses, they seem to easily get sick eating it. The longer cut grass sits clumped up after mowing, the worse it is to feed them. Sheep have different digestion systems, but fermented feed could cause problems in any species.

    Some other considerations I have heard discussed with feeding cut grass, would be the chances of getting emissions from the lawn mower, exhaust, blown onto the cut grass.

    Emissions from a motor are not something I would want to feed my animals. Cut with a brush hog, leave no emissions on the mower device and grass, with the tractor pulling mower having exhaust up and away from the cut grass.

    So different cutting devices could make important differences in the feed stuffs. Drying the cut grass well, before feeding it could make cut grass last longer, be a safer forage, like a hay product.

    Unfortunately what works for one person can have nasty results for another person. Machinery is different, methods of handling are different, which never comes out clearly until something bad has happened. What appears clear or obvious to speaker is not to the listener. Complete details are never disclosed entirely!! THEN you hear the originator who recommended doing something say "I didn't say do it THAT way!".
  5. May 22, 2010
    Beekissed

    Beekissed Loving the herd life

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    Freemotion used a scythe on her grass, let it dry and stored it loose in a stack. She had quite a stack and it worked very well.

    Your Shetlands should do just fine on available graze at this time of year. If you have a garden, your grass clippings could be better utilized as mulch around your plants....best mulch I've ever used!
  6. May 22, 2010
    freemotion

    freemotion Self Sufficient Queen

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    Actually, I do both. I scythe my field and dry it in the field, just like normal hay is usually made but without the fossil fuel. I drag it in on a tarp and stuff it in my hay storage room and feed it by the armload...or fork-full.

    I also spread clippings from the lawn mower bag onto the driveway in hot weather and turn it several times throughout the day. When it is quite dry, I rake it up and stuff it into feed bags, tie them shut, and store them for winter. I feed that "lawn hay" mostly to the poultry, but have been known to offer a small quantity to the goats on occasion, especially as spring is approaching.

    I don't feed fresh clippings to anyone here since we have a lot of strawberry plants in the grass and cherry trees dropping leaves, as well as wild raspberry plants that sprout up along the edges. All of these are very poisonous as they are wilting and should not be fed until completely dry. The danger in feeding clippings, IMO, is that a savvy animal cannot effectively pick the poisonous plants out of the finely chopped mixture.

    I have 3-4 bags still left from last winter, and it is making great bedding for my broody hen and her chicks. They will eat some, too.

    I only dry 6-7 bags of the earliest clippings (most nutrient-dense) and use the rest as mulch, as Bee does. It really improves the soil and blocks weeds quite well.
  7. May 23, 2010
    goodhors

    goodhors Overrun with beasties

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    Thanks for all the extra details. I knew there had to be more to than was mentioned!! Sounds like you have a good method, and the mulching is EXTREMELY good for your soil.

    My lawn care articles say that a year's worth of lawn clippings left on the lawn, equal a treatment of fertilizer for the lawn. You would get the double benefit of nutrients in your soil, and weed suppression when using the clipped grass as mulch.

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