Rate my Field/Grass quality

shepherdO

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I have my sheep in 2 separate fields at the moment, and am not sure if/when I need to start supplementing them with (eg) additional hay/grain, etc. I plan to breed a bunch of them in about a month, so I know I need to flush them - I've already started with a bit of grain supplementation, and a couiple of the ewes that need to improve a bit I have separated in a pen with good hay and some grain/supplementation.

My question is: I don't want to run out of my hay supply too early - I hadn't anticipated needing to feed hay for another month or so. We're up in the Okanagan, BC, and it's starting to get colder here - no 'Indian summer' this year... From the pictures below, does my grass look sufficient to provide enough browsing and nutrition 'as is'? The ewes all look like they're doing well, and my 2 young ram lambs and 2 year old wether in the other field are all looking plump. I have been giving them all a little grain in some beet pulp just to give them something each day to look forward, and they all seem to love it.

Anyhoo, thanks for your advice. All the sheep are/look/seem contented and are obviously not starving - I just want to make sure I'm preparing them for breeding correctly, and that they're in decent condition in general on the field.

Thanks,
ShepherdO
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mysunwolf

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I personally would keep up the grain, maybe increase it, with those fields. That way you don't have to waste your hay stores, but you give them a little more protein as your fields look to be over mature (low protein) and dormant (low energy). How many lbs per day of grain and beet pulp would you estimate that they're getting right now?
 

Baymule

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I am in east Texas, we don't even have much of a winter, but we sure have had a drought all summer. The standing grass you now have will give them the necessary roughage they need to keep the inner parts all working properly. Keep sheep mineral in front of them and continue to supplement.
 

shepherdO

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I personally would keep up the grain, maybe increase it, with those fields. That way you don't have to waste your hay stores, but you give them a little more protein as your fields look to be over mature (low protein) and dormant (low energy). How many lbs per day of grain and beet pulp would you estimate that they're getting right now?
Hmm... I've reduced it slightly, as one piggy ewe looked to be getting acidotic, so at the moment it's about lbs of grain mixed with several pounds of beet pulp and divided between 1 fat wether, two ~6 month ram lambs, two commercial ewes, and a 6 month old ewe lamb. I'm not giving my overweight ewes any. So I guess that's between 6 sheep? I'm giving this twice per day. I had been giving more, but I don't want to risk ketosis, etc. My younger ewe and an older ewe who needs a bit of conditioning after her lamb was weaned are getting good hay all the time, as well as a bit more grain.

So I guess that means about half a lb of grain per day each? Weather is not super cold (screenshot attached). But I get what you're saying about the field - 'over mature' is a good way to put it! I think they do nibble away at it, but really don't seem to like the long hay much. To be honest, I'm wnodering if I should mow it down before winter to allow room for growth next spring. I've always had (eg) a horse of pony in the past and they always get rid of all the grass, so I've never had so much standing hay-grass going into winter, before.

If I'm flushing the ewes out for breeding, is 1/2 lb of grain per day each, combined with this (low) quality of forage sufficient? They appear to all be conditioned in the right level (2.5-3.5, correct? I'd say they're all at least in the '3' range...?), but perhaps right now, as the weather turns, is the time to stop relying on the grass for much nourishment at all...

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Sheepshape

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Your fat girls don't need anything more than your pasture. However, your pasture looks pretty low nutrient grazing ......plenty of roughage, but not great for food value. Old 'Bullet Bum' (ewe in the bottom leftmost pic.)has plenty of stored energy, so she and those like her will be fine on this alone.

Only ewes who are underweight or in generally poor condition need 'flushing'. Those who are healthy and in good body condition (3-4) just need to be kept that way.

All animals would probably benefit from a selenium/cobalt/B12 drench to encourage fertility.

Here's a picture of my pasture right now . I'd say it was pretty good, having been rubbish all summer long due to drought and much higher than normal temperatures. I'm still having to supplement the ram lambs, though, in order to fatten them for market





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shepherdO

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Wow - nice pastures! Over here in my neck of British Columbia that's not how things look past June :) Yes, I can see that there's not much nutrition in the grass... I will have to probably break into the hay then, plus keep up the grain supplementation. I think all my girls are in the right body condition for breeding, so I'm not worried about that, but I certainly don't want them declining.
 

shepherdO

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Question re: leaving standing grass in the winter. Should I be mowing what's left of the grass, maybe just before the first snows, or leaving it standing? Ie, if the sheep aren't going to eat the tall yellowed grass, is it better to mow it down when/before the snow comes, so that there's nothing to get in the way of the new growth in the spring? I've never had this much standing 'dead' grass going into winter before, and I want to set my pastures up for success in the spring!
 

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