Sheep on the Wild Graze

SageHill

Herd Master
Joined
Aug 27, 2022
Messages
3,177
Reaction score
11,918
Points
473
Location
Southern CA
With the regular seasonal rains everything green is exploding all over the ranch. When we got the rain from the hurricane (a very rare thing here for ~2inches of rain back in August 2023) meant green in the fall. The thing that actually happened was not everything popped up at the same time -- different plants germinated at different times. That made it easy to see what the sheep were eating. Now in the mid-winter with the normal seasonal rains everything seems to have germinated almost at the same time. An interesting thing to see that happen and actually notice it.
I'm still watching and recording what they are into - but they seem to have a broader spectrum of what they are eating. Probably because there is a larger variety of things available, and the growing season is in it's normal short span (typically we'll be brown by the beginning of May).
Tasty eats today were predominantly
Black-Grass, slender meadow foxtail - Alopecurus myosuroides
non-native to CA, originated in Eurasia and considered a noxious weed. Nothing is noted in what I've found concerning livestock. The sheep happily consume huge overflowing mouthfuls. Go for it sheep!

IMG_3927 (1).jpeg

IMG_3928 (1).jpeg

They were also happy to munch on the tender heads of the wild mustard
IMG_3895.jpeg
 

SageHill

Herd Master
Joined
Aug 27, 2022
Messages
3,177
Reaction score
11,918
Points
473
Location
Southern CA
My sheep like the wild mustard when it is young, then not so much until it is dry then it is delicious! I wonder if that is because it tastes better dry, or if there is just nothing left to eat! LOL.
Same here - sometimes first sprouts, definitely the early budding - after that nada until it's crispy. Guessing nutrition?? Or pairing it with something else to balance? I've only piled up the nutrition stuff - need to start digging that into another rabbit hole.
 

Ridgetop

Herd Master
Joined
Mar 13, 2015
Messages
6,736
Reaction score
22,968
Points
693
Location
Shadow Hills, CA
Ulf Kintzel raises White Dorpers in New York state. He was trained in Humance grazing in East Germany before immigrating here. One year he ran out of pasture so he leased some dried weedy fields from a neighbor. He expected his sheep to lose weight or not gain on the dry forage BUT found that they actually gained better on the dry forage than on the green grass. He wrote an article about it. Greem grazing is better for sheep in milk but they gained more on dry. After investigation he hypothesized that green grass and forage is higher in water content so better for making milk for lactating ewes. Dry forage (because it is actually dehydrated and has less water) has more nutrients per pound.

Interesting premise. Makes sense if you figure that animals need the extra water during lactation after lambing. After the forage has dried out (and lambs are weaned) they are storing up energy and fat for winter weather. It also makes sense that sheep eating dried forage with more nutrient per pound are actually flushing themselves for breeding season which normally occurs in the autumn.
 

Ridgetop

Herd Master
Joined
Mar 13, 2015
Messages
6,736
Reaction score
22,968
Points
693
Location
Shadow Hills, CA
Fabulous articles written by him online. Since he raises White dorpers that is how I found him and his articles. He also posts articles about how to build lambing jugs from pallets, etc. He has a degree in animal science too I think. One of the few people making a living with a flock of 200 sheep and a smaller flock of Kiko goats. Interesting young guy.
 

Latest posts

Top