Your photos of pasture reared lambs wanted

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Re: Your photos of pasture reared lambs wanted

Postby Janet McNally » Sun Nov 20, 2011 4:45 pm

Hi Kathy, here is how I go about doing the turnips. On the previous farm I had a rotation going, where I would plow up the fading hay/grazing fields, and put them into turnips for 2 years, then replant to an alfalfa blend (or let the natural native grass seed bank germinate..that one was a very nice clean farm). The plowing and fertilizer gave me improved yields on those fields for the next four or five years. The rotation was about 7 years long. I do not have a stitch of farm machinery here. So I hire a neighbor to do the field work. Generally there is someone within 10 miles who both owns a tractor and is willing to do custom work. On my new rented farm, the current owner already has a rotation with corn and beans going. He's agreed to do a rotation of corn/beans/turnips before replanting the field. This saves me the cost of plowing, so I only have to hire him to disk the field up and cultipack the seed in. Seed is spread via the fertilizer truck (it is mixed in with the fertlizer). Turnips do love their nitrogen. I am planting July 15 to Aug 1 for early September grazing. Turnips do require moisture. in this area the biggest obstacle would be if the fall is dry. Despite suffering through a 100 year drought, and this year, the driest fall since 1889, we seem to always have a crop albeit a bit stunted thanks to our heavier soils.

This year's cost was $2800 including rent, seed, tillage, and fertilizer on 12.5 acres. This produced enough turnips to finish 200 lambs for six+ weeks in a record dry fall. I figure the same cost in purchased feed would be an estimated $6,000. Gains on turnips are lower, in part because they are 90% water. 12-15 pounds per lamb per month are typical. But transitioning them to hard feeds would require a month long set back, which needs to be figured in to the equation. there is no setback transitioning to turnips.

I have heard of attempts to plant turnips without tillage and the results described have not encouraged me to give that a try. Hard ground does not help a turnip.

On the previous farm, I had access to two 40 x 60 foot open front sheds. I tried lambing in them several times over a 19 year period. The losses lambing indoors were actually higher, as were the labor requirements and expenses, that they offset any benefits an earlier lambing might have bestowed.

Janet

ps on the tillage end, one benefit is that turnips require planting during what is usually a pretty slack time in the schedules of local farmers. All other planting is done, and there typically is a pause in the hay making schedule. So finding help is usually not difficult so long as someone is within a reasonable distance. The hardest part is introducing the concept....it will probably sound very foreign to whomever you talk to and might require a long discussion to convince them you are not loonie.
Last edited by Janet McNally on Sun Nov 20, 2011 4:49 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Your photos of pasture reared lambs wanted

Postby McMurry » Sun Nov 20, 2011 4:46 pm

Hi Stan,
I am not at all perturbed - to the contrary I am grateful to you for sharing - thank you.
I am all for any way we can grow the sheep and or wool industry in the US and I realize that flexibility is the key. In fact I just decided to include a little corn for flushing my ewes 2 weeks from breeding (it is rare that I do this) . I have a 100% stand of white clover that I want to utilize before it gets totally frozen and I am a little scared of "phytoestrogens"(legume + drought) reducing fertility - so I dilute the clover with hay and corn. The only hay they will really eat while on this clover is as expensive as corn and harder to handle otherwise I would probably just use the hay.
Thanks again for your contribution.
Cheers, Andy
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Re: Your photos of pasture reared lambs wanted

Postby dhibbeln » Sun Nov 20, 2011 7:22 pm

Folks,
Thanks for all who contributed to this thread.

It is evident from this thread that the scale of an operation, the # of decades the operation has been running, investments in infrastructure, genetics, building local relationships, prepareing for the hissy fits of mother nature, willingness to change, have as much to do in having a succesful production operation as soil health, fecal tests, forage tests, vet bills, secure perimeter fences, sorting pens, and how often you move sheep from place to place.

Now all that being said, if I had run across this thread 5 years ago when we were trying to figure out how to build fencing for our sheep ( the zoo keepers told us to build 14 foot high fences with 14 foot moats since the auctioneer had called them "alaskan dall" sheep by mistake.) I would have realized I needed a 20 year plan for my operation, not a five year plan.

Dave
NE of Albany, NY & 1,543 ft from VT
Dall Hollow Farm
Texas Dalls & they're NOT goats!
home of "stotting" lambs
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Re: Your photos of pasture reared lambs wanted

Postby Darroll Grant » Sun Nov 20, 2011 9:30 pm

Andy,
I would suggest marking harnesses on the rams you put on the clover grazing ewes. If the rams are slow in marking, the ewes aren't cycling with your feeding program so move off the clover.
Darroll Grant
western Oregon
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Re: Your photos of pasture reared lambs wanted

Postby Bill Fosher » Mon Nov 21, 2011 5:41 am

Sugar Creek,

Wouldn't it be great if the teachers told you that your daughters were so academically gifted that they'd make a great team to take your farm forward -- if farming were as respected an occupation as hedge fund management or theoretical physics.
Bill Fosher
Westmoreland, NH
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Re: Your photos of pasture reared lambs wanted

Postby Sugar Creek » Mon Nov 21, 2011 6:28 am

Bill,

Agreed, but unfortunately we would all be pretty hungry before that happened.
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Re: Your photos of pasture reared lambs wanted

Postby Carol K » Mon Nov 21, 2011 11:38 am

I'd also like to thank you all, great debates, shows me how much I have to learn, I'm just not sure I'll live long enough! lol

Carol K
Carol K. Little Valley NY. New to sheep. Raising grass fed Katahdins since 2011 and Dorpers since 2012.
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Re: Your photos of pasture reared lambs wanted

Postby Janet McNally » Mon Nov 21, 2011 11:42 am

Sugar Creek wrote:Bill,

Agreed, but unfortunately we would all be pretty hungry before that happened.


someday we WILL be hungry because it did not happen, unfortunately.

Janet
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Re: Your photos of pasture reared lambs wanted

Postby McMurry » Mon Nov 21, 2011 9:30 pm

Kathy Lewis wrote;
For instance we are interested in shortening the hay feeding season with brassicas, small grain grazing, etc. I am curious how those of you who plant these get it done..... especially for finishing lambs. Do you own tractors, discs, harrows, seed drills, etc? Do you have a neighbor or a custom farmer you can hire to come in and do the work? How far do they have to transport their equipment? Do you live in an area where almost everyone has farming equipment? Is there any way to do this without equipment?

Hi Kathy, I have 30 - 50 yr equipment that was sitting around when the family dairy was terminated in the early 90's. 65 hp tractor, disc, harrow and cultipacker. I think all of it but the tractor was given to us by row cropping neighbors that had upgraded many years earlier. All but the tractor would be valued only as scrap if it were sold at auction today. I don't mind tinkering with old equipment. I also have access to a modern no-till drill that I occasionally lease but frankly I am not all that impressed with the results. One year when the tractor was down I got a great 10 ac turnip crop in (in one day) with a 3/4 T 2wd suburban with snow chains on, a very old pull type disc and a hand crank broadcast seeder. It rain hard that night and I was very pleased - fed the flock for several months that winter.
I have gotten good crops with little or no tillage BUT I had the field burned down with herbicide 3 weeks prior and no rain or re-germination between spraying and planting. Timing is everything when cutting corners like this but the forecast was showing 100% chance for storms that night and brassica seed is very cheap. If it had failed - I would just do it again more thoroughly at a later date.
I would love to hear more about what you have to work with, equipment, soil type, nature of rains you get, access to spraying contractors etc. as well as what you would like to plant and when. I might be able to offer some suggestions.
Also important for me is how one crop dovetails in with the overall farm management plan and subsequent annual crops . For example I have almost completely eliminated the cost of having to mow pastures to control weeds / tree sprouts since I started with the annuals. By strip grazing such a high volume of such high quality feed with the manure perfectly distributed - the soil is really improving. The whole system gets better and better each year. At this point I am getting great crops of things like clover and annual reygrass, sometimes even cereals & brassicas without any tillage, trampling it in as the strip grazing is taking out the previous crop, very little fertilizer for the best paddocks at this point.
Formally I thought of soil like a bank account with a limited $ in it, constantly being drained. Now I see it more like a continually burning bonfire where ruminant animal activity stokes the fire proportionally to how much the animals are getting out of it by increasing the nutrient cycling rate (bio-activity of the soil goes exponential) . Seems too good too be true and I did not plan it this way - just seems to be what is happening. Aside from the spraying I am getting very close to organic. The spray could be eliminated with a few thousand $ investment toward a used Howard rotovator which I hope to get at some point.
Hope this helps and I would love to offer more if needed.
Cheers
Andy McMurry

Endeavoring to develop luxury wool producing dual purpose sheep suited to Midwest grazing based commercial production.

http://www.genopalette.com
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Re: Your photos of pasture reared lambs wanted

Postby Kathy Lewis » Tue Nov 22, 2011 1:59 am

Hi Andy, Thanks for your post. By way of background we have been on this ranch for eight years having previously been in the upper Sacto. Valley where we had productive irrigated ground divided into many fields and a long growning season with mild winters. No feeding but lots of heat and parasites. We're still working on figuring out our new environment.... High elevation desert, 12 in. annual rainfall, irrigation, mild summers with low humidity and cold winters. Lots of rugged rangeland, fairly good irrigated pastures, some sandy soils. We're making progress now that we are getting the fencing under control. It was basically open range and the honor system when we moved our sheep in.

The sheep are doing well here and it seems to be a healthy environment for sheep and cattle. We've been growing about 1/2 our own hay - orchard grass/alfalfa - and we have two cuttings cut and baled by a custom hay guy. We graze the third cutting for flushing ewes. Everybody around here has really large specialized haying equipment, no small acreage tillage or spraying. We also have some well aged equipment, a 65hp Massey, disc, harrows, old seed drill and disc mower. From what we have tried so far we're starting to believe the best forage for extending our grazing is triticale. The radish mix we planted was a deer magnet, didn't look that healthy and froze out. It was on very sandy ground and was irrigated up and fertilized. The triticale was much more impressive and provided grazing off and on most of the winter when not covered with snow. After grazing it almost to the ground we rested it and grazed young ewes and lambs in early spring .... the gains seemed good and ewes held their condition. Rested it again and cut it for hay in mid-June. It never froze out...it got down to -15F but that was with snow cover.

We didn't do much research before buying the triticale seed because we were in a hurry to get it in. Don't remember what kind it was but seemed like a hay type. I think we can find a better type for grazing and might even try a spring planted variety. We have a local farm advisor who is familiar with some of the newer varieties suited to the area. Anyway we love it here - great community and lots of livestock, mostly cattle. Our pastures are improving and we'll get a handle on the management eventually.
Kathy Lewis
White Dorpers with Lambplan EBVs
www.whitedorper.com
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Re: Your photos of pasture reared lambs wanted

Postby Janet McNally » Tue Nov 22, 2011 10:11 pm

Hi Kathy, are all your soils sandy? or do you have some heavier soils there on the ranch?
Janet McNally
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Re: Your photos of pasture reared lambs wanted

Postby Kathy Lewis » Wed Nov 23, 2011 12:26 pm

Janet McNally wrote:Hi Kathy, are all your soils sandy? or do you have some heavier soils there on the ranch?


Hi Janet,
None of our soils approach clay but there is a wide range of soil types depending on location on the ranch. We are in an area that's volcanic and that's the nature of the sandy areas - dark volcanic sand.....and as you have seen a lot of rocks/cliffs. There are riparian areas and areas of deep alluvial fans that are wonderful, productive soils. Organic matter is high in some areas and lacking in others and that seems to vary with how long it has been grazed by livestock. We do have a good set of soil maps that help us make some management decisions.

We've learned that the unirrigated range is a good feed resource for sheep but very brittle. For instance, we didn't recognise that bitter brush was a desirable plant and before we realized it the dorpers grazed it out in a large portion of the rangeland. Some of these areas we have rested for over a year and that seems to be what it needed to prevent permanent damage. It's an ongoing learning process but rewarding when we see results. Fencing is still one of our constraints.
Kathy Lewis
White Dorpers with Lambplan EBVs
www.whitedorper.com
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Re: Your photos of pasture reared lambs wanted

Postby NDLambLdy » Thu Feb 23, 2012 1:12 pm

Lovely sheep, gorguous carcasses...had to put 2 cents worth of levity...I just figured out what "Mr. Green" is for--I thought he was just a colored smiley! I have been TOTALLY misusing him!
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Re: Your photos of pasture reared lambs wanted

Postby Salasfarm » Thu Aug 09, 2012 10:34 am

Thank goodness for the archives. A few questions. Located in Central WI. Have 80 April lambs. 47% of these at 80 lbs and up as of yesterday.I have a 5 acre paddock that needs renovating. It was seeded about 8 years ago and has quite a heavy canadian thistle problem. First, is it too late to plant turnips? Second, how long to grazing? The variety presented to me by the local mill says 60 days to maturity. Do they have to be mature to graze? How many days of grazing should this provide my lambs?
Janet, you referred to a 2 year rotation with turnips? What do you seed in the paddock the following spring? The turnips don't persist do they? If I follwed them with an annual grass crop maybe I could spray for the thistles which will surely multiply with tillage? Then repeat the following year?
Sounds like you till then just broadcast the seed along with the fertilizer? Do you press the seed in afterward? How well tilled or can it be fairly rough and then tilled again for follow up seeding next year.
Any other input welcome. Barb
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