1. BYH Official Poll: What are the things that you should consider before buying herds?
    CLICK HERE!
    (if you are logged in, this notice can be dismissed using the "x" to the top right of the notice)

    Dismiss Notice
  2. Update on our 4 piggies - Featured Thread
    CLICK HERE!
    (if you are logged in, this notice can be dismissed using the "x" to the top right of the notice)

    Dismiss Notice
  3. Dismiss Notice
  4. BYH Picture of the Week (POW) - Submit your Pics Now !!
    Click HERE!
    (if you are logged in, this notice can be dismissed using the "x" to the top right of the notice)
    Dismiss Notice

YOUR LANDSCAPE WILL SPEAK TO YOU IF ONLY YOU WILL LISTEN.

Discussion in 'Everything Else Sheep' started by The Old Ram-Australia, Jul 25, 2019.

  1. Jul 25, 2019
    The Old Ram-Australia

    The Old Ram-Australia True BYH Addict

    Joined:
    Jan 18, 2011
    Messages:
    614
    Likes Received:
    754
    Trophy Points:
    233
    Recently I coined the phrase,” Make the livestock fit the landscape, not the landscape fit the livestock”.

    I used the phrase in an article or two and it seems to have “struck a cord” with a number of people going by the responses I have received.

    We have had our current farm for 20 + years now, its 300 acs and for the first 10 we followed traditional practices with regard to our livestock production methods, but by 2008 it was oblivious that it was all falling apart and so began a search for a method of production which was not only envirinonmentally sensitive but sustainable and resulted in a profit outcome.

    Before we started additional fencing to produce more paddocks I looked at the landscape and this is what I found. In round numbers 40% of our farm is north facing, 40% is South facing and 20% is west facing. The West facing presents the largest challenge because the “worst” of our weather be it hot or cold comes from this direction .There are periods in both spring and autumn when it is the most “favorable” place for stock to be .In the summer we have a large stand of Cottonwoods below a spring which fills a dam below. The new flocks graze with “glee” the emerging growth in the spring and rest in the cool shade in the hottest part of summer. This winter we have had what I would describe as a pretty strong group of Wiltshire Horns and W.H. Dorpers to test whether they are up to the challenge they are all in lamb to begin mid/late August (so far so good, end July).So far they have been exposed to wind (almost 100km per hr) and frost (around -6 c on several occasions) without any visible signs of ill-effect.

    The north facing although the hottest in the summer are not subjected to the winds and is fenced in a way to provide woodland shelter in each of the paddocks it was also the most effected by “poor management” when we purchased the farm almost 20 years later it ranks very favorably with any of our other sloping areas in production value.

    The areas south facing are our coolest summer paddocks and are about 50% Woodland grazing and are favored night grazing in the summer months while providing cool grazing during the heat of the day.

    Water management is a major priority on the farm, but it took me years of observation to understand just how our system works. The catchment for our creek is about 400acs about half is south facing and the other north facing. In the case of the south facing about 80% of the rainfall is carried “through the profile” due( IMO )to the effect of the old growth woodland which presents a “soft landing” for the rain as it falls to the ground. Whereas on the other slope about 80% is delivered across the surface (well that’s how it used to be) but over the past 10 or so years we have reduced this to about 50/50 by allowing woodland regeneration on the highest parts of our farm and using in the correct manner the “swales” which were installed about 40 years ago, but were never managed in the way they were designed.

    Our creek is in effect a erosion gully(A river when it rains) which used to carry a large volume of water during a rain event and over time scoured out the bed and produced the wide ,quite deep gully we have today. In the years since we started the works have affected the volume and the speed at which the surface water reaches the creek proper and in effect by the time the water from the highest parts reach the creek most of the water from the lower sections has already passed through the system.

    It has now been about 2 years since we started to transition from British Shortwools (English Suffolk’s) to as many Hair breeds as we can muster to begin the path to a new Composite which will “fit” our changing local environment and management style (which is as little interference as possible).This change is also the start of a new learning curve for the management of the different breeds which will ultimately make up the new flock.

    NOTE: if you are in the Northern Hemisphere the aspects will be opposite to Downunder so take this into a/c when reading the post......T.O.R.
     
  2. Jul 25, 2019
    Baymule

    Baymule Herd Master

    Joined:
    Aug 22, 2010
    Messages:
    15,052
    Likes Received:
    34,129
    Trophy Points:
    793
    Location:
    Northeast Texas
    A lot of our land is wooded. Transforming it to pasture is a challenge. It is sloped and getting ahead of erosion is another challenge. There is a swale that was built in 1934, but we have added more in critical areas. The more water you can keep on your place, the better it will be.
     
    B&B Happy goats likes this.
  3. Jul 25, 2019
    Beekissed

    Beekissed Herd Master

    Joined:
    Aug 3, 2008
    Messages:
    2,012
    Likes Received:
    1,338
    Trophy Points:
    343
    Location:
    mountains of WV
    TOR, I'd like to know what you mean by "falling apart", if you haven't already explained that elsewhere. It would give me an idea of where you are coming from and where you are attempting to go with your method of production.

    Interesting read!
     
    Baymule likes this.
  4. Jul 26, 2019
    The Old Ram-Australia

    The Old Ram-Australia True BYH Addict

    Joined:
    Jan 18, 2011
    Messages:
    614
    Likes Received:
    754
    Trophy Points:
    233
    G'day BK,i think the 2 pic's illustrate what i mean.The first one is the old system in a dry spell,the second one was also in a dry spell and in it you can see the flat section (mid pic) has dried off but the slopes are still holding moisture and therefore still producing "feed".The second one is after 2 years of the new system and although we have had dry spells (like now) it has "never" returned to the "bad old days".The second two ,in the first this was normal for the top of the slope,the second one is normal for the top of the slope now (but not at this minute,but it does not even approach what it used to be like).Note,one pic is up-slope and the other is down-slope.
    IMG_0288.JPG dec 2010 a.JPG
     

    Attached Files:

  5. Jul 26, 2019
    Beekissed

    Beekissed Herd Master

    Joined:
    Aug 3, 2008
    Messages:
    2,012
    Likes Received:
    1,338
    Trophy Points:
    343
    Location:
    mountains of WV
    WOW!!!! HUGE change!!!! What did you do differently besides allowing more wooded areas to fill in and regrow? How did the change of breed assist in all of this?
     
    Stephine likes this.
  6. Jul 26, 2019
    Baymule

    Baymule Herd Master

    Joined:
    Aug 22, 2010
    Messages:
    15,052
    Likes Received:
    34,129
    Trophy Points:
    793
    Location:
    Northeast Texas
    Dry spells, rain, grass growth and flock management have the same principles the world over. The differences are climate, soil and animal breeds, but the overall principles are much the same. You are a wealth of information and thank you for sharing your experience and wisdom with us.
     
  7. Jul 26, 2019
    The Old Ram-Australia

    The Old Ram-Australia True BYH Addict

    Joined:
    Jan 18, 2011
    Messages:
    614
    Likes Received:
    754
    Trophy Points:
    233
    G'day and thank you both for your comments.For BK the second question first:the results of the change of breds within the livestock type will not become evident for about 5 years i suspect.That change was driven by Jenny's Alzheimer's and my advancing years.To the first:1. Grazing management 2.Understanding the "history " of the landscape,how it was born ,the changes since "white man" came and the changes in the last 50 years,but only a brief outline is needed ,not an "academic" undertaking.3.How water interacts with landscape,ie: how it helps and how it degrades.4.Recording what it happening over time and at the start of a year looking back over however many years of records you have and" ask" is the landscape better now or worse?The best tool you can have is a small camera which records the same spot in every paddock every month of the year and ask your self was the outcome better and if not, what contributed to the result? in the case of worse "is it the worse recorded"? Ask your self what were the factors which contributed to the outcome,"lack of rain","to many stock" or even some of the decisions you made along the way?

    To start the recording process go back over all those pic's you have taken since you purchased the farm and put them in a series of files.Look to your fencing is it structured to produce the best result for the health of the landscape? Look to your neighbors (especially the old folk who still farm in the ways of old) as they hold many of the "keys" to your success into the future.

    I am very thankful for your interest and questions and in time all of these conversations will form the basis for a article on both LinkedIn and Facebook which (hopefully) will advance the understanding of my thinking on the subject....T.O.R.
     
  8. Jul 27, 2019
    Beekissed

    Beekissed Herd Master

    Joined:
    Aug 3, 2008
    Messages:
    2,012
    Likes Received:
    1,338
    Trophy Points:
    343
    Location:
    mountains of WV
    I can't wait for all of the details! I've long been interested in rejuvenating pastures and what farming practices bring that about. I've read Salatin's methods of improving pasture on old farms that have been ill used and love to see the before and after pics.

    Around my area and across this state, mostly what one sees is hill farms and pasture that is much like your before pic...only it's due to there being over grazed for decades, if it's green in the spring it's like a thin layer of paint and no efforts to improve any of that. It makes the heart ache to see someone have the gift of a nice farm but then just throw some cattle or sheep on it for generations without seeing the impact all of that has on the land and grass.

    Where I live we no longer have large acres, merely 20 and only 3+ in grass, but it used to be a farm 100 yrs ago(we used to own 110 acres,but the folks sold off the bulk of it when they got up in years). It's had 100+ years to recover from poor farming practices but it's still very slim on good quality grasses. I've been frost seeding with clover for the past 8 yrs and free ranging chickens on it, trying to keep my mother from overmowing the good grasses until they have reseeded themselves, etc.

    If you read recommended stocking rates and go no further, one is doomed for failure...even on such a small livestock as chickens. The current recommended stocking rate for sheep is 6 per acre....and there's no WAY our grass and the lay of our land could support that many. But it's so often I read of people with small acreage trying to do just that. On my place I'll be lucky to support two ewes, a ram and a wether companion, with lambs until they are weaned and sold/eaten without having to supplement with hay during the grazing season. I'll try it but if I see a high impact on the land, it may not be feasible here.

    I'm so glad to see a thread like yours here on a backyard herd forum, as it's sorely needed. People need to know that, just because you CAN get a certain number of livestock, it doesn't necessarily mean you SHOULD. Before long you see posts about struggles with parasite control, illness, etc. in animals that are on too little land.

    Can't wait to read more!
     
    Baymule likes this.
  9. Jul 29, 2019
    The Old Ram-Australia

    The Old Ram-Australia True BYH Addict

    Joined:
    Jan 18, 2011
    Messages:
    614
    Likes Received:
    754
    Trophy Points:
    233
    G'day and thank you your continuing interest.Well BK ,there are a couple of things that strike me from the outset.Is the chicken project a free range egg one and if so is it a profit making one?

    Is your boundary's securely fenced? Is there an opportunity to "open up the woods" to allow a form of grazing? Instead of owning a ram and wether,why not hire one for 6 weeks each year?

    Or better still start a Ram hiring business,First I would do an audit of a 50 km circle from your place,how many small sheep farmers fall within it? What breeds are they using? What are the costs associated with keeping a ram on the farm ,feed, labor ,extra infrastructure and the ability to carry an extra couple of ewes? I think it would need to be a deliver and pickup service and a deposit to cover the loss of the ram.

    How about a few pic's of your place?......T.O.R.
     
  10. Jul 29, 2019
    Baymule

    Baymule Herd Master

    Joined:
    Aug 22, 2010
    Messages:
    15,052
    Likes Received:
    34,129
    Trophy Points:
    793
    Location:
    Northeast Texas
    Today is a big day for us! We have 2 1/2 acres in the horse pasture that is a thicket. There are some nice big trees, but the whole place is choked with brush, small trees and green briars. We have battled briars in three other pastures, clearing with chain saw and machetes and lots of sweat.

    This morning we have a forestry mulcher coming. Pictures will follow in my making a pasture thread.

    https://www.backyardherds.com/threads/making-a-pasture.36612/page-20
     
    B&B Happy goats likes this.