AmberLops

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They do! I've always felt it was possible to never deworm nor flush with or feed grain and Mr. Judy has proved that over and over. I want to do that here also and I have no problem culling hard for the ability to do it.

Right now the sheep are scoring 3-3.5 as they go into breeding season and that's with no grain supplement nor chemical deworming for them. They get 2 days on, 2 days off pasture so the ram can get graze too(I don't have established paddocks yet, just open range) and I can't wait until they can all graze together. This season it can be like that, but by spring I hope to have paddocks established so I can rotate them through those with the use of polywire.

By next year I want to expand my total pasture area and start clearing wood lots to get into some silvopasture. I have acorns in these woods that can be utilized by the sheep if I can just get their pasture to those areas.
Sounds like you have some amazing plans! Good luck and please update and let us all know how it's working out :highfive:
 

Beekissed

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This one is one of my faves....love his last statement and it's one I've been using for some many years now. The power of the cull and being the predator for your own flocks.

 

farmerjan

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Are you using regenerative grazing on your place and the places you are leasing?
I was rereading this thread and realized that you were asking me if we use regenerative grazing on the leased places. I am not sure that that is the right term for what we are doing.
We use controlled rotational grazing on the different farms. 90% of them have no cattle on them for 4-6 months of the year. Most are set up with multiple sections for grazing. We usually move cattle to the pastures in the spring when there is anywhere from 8-12 inches of grass height. All according to what the season is like, as to how many times the cattle are moved through the different pastures. If it is wet, and growing fast like in 2018, they were moved through faster to try to stay ahead of the grass so not too much headed out and went to seed when it will go dormant.
This year was different. We had a pretty normal year up until late August when it pretty much got dry. There were some spotty rains, but overall we were drier than normal and much much hotter than normal. The normal growth of cool season grasses did not happen as it often does. We had stockpiled a couple of sections at different places, and have turned the cattle in on them and are allowing the other sections to rest and hopefully to grow if we get any/much precip. It is late in the year though, for us to get alot of regrowth now.

We have a "home farm" where most of the cattle get moved to for the winter for ease of care and feeding. Also have 2 other places that have nothing on them for the bulk of the summer and the cows will come "home" to them also, and they will graze all the stockpiled grasses from the summer. They will calve there and then in the late spring, will get moved out to other summer grazing.
Most places have certain requirements/agreements in place that the owners want. One is that at all of them but one, there has to be one bush hogging a year to keep the weed species down. It is not a big deal to do that and it shreds and puts back down more organic matter into the soil. Since one of the biggest problems we have in this area is autumn olive and multiflora rose bushes, I can agree. Both are introduced invasive species. If we could run the sheep at these pastures, it would help, but we don't have the fences at any of these pastures, for our kind of sheep to keep them in. Electric does not work. So we keep them both in check by bushogging.
The earthworm populations have increased on most places as I will do a count by shovelful at least once a year on different places. The grasses have gotten better at several since the cattle have been rotationally grazed so that we have actually increased the number on a couple of places. I think that the organic matter has improved, but we have alot of rock and limestone outcropping in this area, so the improvements are harder to actually see.

And it takes time. One place we had for over 25 years. It went from producing about 25-30 round bales of hay for first cutting, then pastured.... to producing over 80 round bales this year. It's 22 acres of which we can cut off about 18 due to the very prominent outcroppings of rock. Unfortunately, we lost the farm and pasture across the road, due to being sold, so no longer have water available on this piece across the road. We were going to put a 1,000 gal tank there this year and run some cattle late and may still do so for the next 2 months, but it will have to be filled weekly in order to have the number of cattle there to graze it off. This is the sort of thing that makes it get to the point where it is not economically viable.
This is not something we do as a hobby, the cattle have to pay their own way at the very least. We work other jobs, but the purpose of the cattle were to be able to pay off the mortgage on the one farm, pay the costs associated with keeping them, and be able to have them be a source of income for living in the future. We do not control the price that we get for our animals, and that is where it is hitting every single farmer in this country. Small niche markets are great and we do sell some direct. But our business is to raise and sell feeder cattle in the 450-650 lb size. We are getting the same as we were getting 20 years ago. Everything else has gone up.

Farmland is getting eaten up here into small little "hobby farms" of 5-20 acres with big houses on them and people who just can't get their heads wrapped around that you can't put 10 animals on 10 acres and have it all looking like a pristine perfect little farm postcard. They want rents that are not reasonable, and that you cannot run enough animals to pay for the rent without destroying the ground.
The opposite end is the farms that the owners have gotten older, they did not keep up with any of the repairs of the fences, even letting some of the barns get into bad shape, and then although the rents are reasonable for the land value, the fences are such that it will cost too much to do all that and make it viable. They do not have much liquidity for their retirement, and cannot afford to put it into the farm structures or fences. The kids are all waiting for them to go into nursing homes or pass away so that they can sell the farm off and take what they can get. There are usually 4-10 kids, and a couple that don't get along with the rest, so can't come to an agreement on anything so the place just goes downhill. Or there is the one that has stayed on the farm, helping, running it, and the others want "their share" and the one that has spent their whole life hoping to take it over, loses out. I've seen it over and over. It hurts our hearts to go to these farm sales, and see a lifetime of hard work and sweat, that raised up all these kids and gave them a future, and these adult kids cannot see past the dollar signs that they will get out of it. Then go on to complain that food costs so much. Add in that the land values are such, that someone starting out cannot afford to buy the farm intact even if they have the youth and strength and ability to put the work into it to make it a working farm again.

Unfortunately, here in this area, it is only going to get worse because of our proximity to the interstate and accessibility to DC, Richmond, Harrisonburg, Roanoke and such. College towns, and moneyed people.
So we do what we can, with what we have, and try to make some places better. We have 2 that are in "conservation easement" and that will preserve the land, but the restrictions are such that going forward the options are limited for anyone wanting to buy them to farm possibly in a different manner. Both these places are owned by someone who made his money in other ways, and owns several apartment buildings, as well as other stuff. Don't know what will happen after he is gone, but his kids aren't interested in them, and I doubt we would ever be able to afford even one of them.
Lease another that we use as "home base" that belonged to a friend that died of cancer. He and his brother owned the farm, split between them, and we lease both pieces. Sits along the interstate which divided the whole farm years ago, the other side having been sold off, so it is worth many times what farming could ever hope to make from it. It will be sold for commercial or industrial use when the time comes I am sure. But until then, we will do what we can to make the land better for having been there.
 

Beekissed

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After watching Mr. Judy's vids I've come to find out my grass is not great~which I already knew~but that everything we were doing(mowing, mowing, mowing)had made it worse, and that my sheep are really grazing closely due to all that mowing~which increases chances of picking up parasites.

I also found out I have some Korean lespedeza all over this meadow, due to the poor pH of the soil, which sheep love and is a hot, mid summer graze. I also have moss growing underneath the majority of my grass here(this used to be an old pine grove).

Today I'm spreading out hay windrows from where I rolled out several roundbales on the land. The strands of this hay are too long for the chickens to shift, I've found, so I'll have to do the spreading by hand. A good pitchfork is essential, a three or four tined and very sharp tool...I pick these up as antiques at yard sales and flea markets for around $10, cut off the handle to suit my short stature, and use them all year round in the coop and garden. Now they are getting even more use...I've found them invaluable over the years. They just made things better back then.

The great thing about sheep is they trim a lot of the not so good stuff off as they pick through it for the stuff they like...you can watch them as they filter it faster than one can imagine and pieces come out of the corners of their mouths. This makes for a good, even mowing of the graze, while leaving the undesirable stuff behind as mulch.

I can't wait to get a rotational grazing system going and see what these sheep can turn this nasty ol' graze into over time. Right now I'm spreading a lot of carbon down before winter and, hopefully, in the spring some good hay mix seed will grow up out of that.
 

Beekissed

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I was doing some figuring about the money we spend on fixing riding mowers here...this season we spent over $300 on just one of the mowers, while another $100 was spent on just tires for one of them. Just think about how many round bales of hay at $25 ea. I could have bought for that and rolled out on the land!

Not to mention all the gas we pour into these machines....that's even more round bales of seed and mulch we could be laying down.
 
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Beekissed

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How to put nitrogen on your fields while you are feeding hay to your animals....but without buying any urea/nitrogen!

 

Baymule

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Since I feed round bales, I thought you would find this interesting. We moved the horses round bale to the pipeline. Every time we get a new bale, we move it. We started at the gully and are moving forward. In wet weather, water runs in the gully. Seeps ooze out of the ground, trickling down the gully. Might as well let the horses wasted hay, urine and manure enrich the soil. In the picture, on the other side of the gully, you can see the lines of hay. We laid sections of square bales to form baffling to slow water run off and erosion.

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Baymule

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We have dragged and burned tons of briars, branches, weeds and such over the last 4 1/2 years. But some we piled up in low spots and covered with horse manure. The tree trunks have rotted nicely, returning nutrients to the soil. These pictures are in pasture #1.

This was once a BIG pile! After I took the picture, I picked up a lot of wind fall limbs and placed on the pile. We’ll cover with more horse manure.

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These are a couple of smaller piles, they are almost totally returned to the soil.

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Sentry is watching Mom. Hey! Look at all these sticks!

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This was a huge pine tree that was cut down, but still attached to the stump, when we bought the place. The stump was over two feet across. We picked up branches and laid next to the trunk. The pile is almost gone back to the soil. The stump is in the foreground.

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We had some winged elm cut to open up the ground to more sunlight. The Sheep ate the tops off. Today we cut off the branches and hauled to the burn pile. We laid the trunks down and will cover with dead hay from the Sheep round bale, and sheep manure.

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You can see the hay pile in the background that we’ll cover the trunks with.

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