Our focus now is on improving the grass on the farm. Even before this lack of rain some of the fields were in a sorry state. With such a wet winter there was a lot of poaching, extremely patchy growth and lots of nettles, docks and other weeds. With this in mind we have invested a lot of time and a bit of money in sorting out a rotational grazing system. The system comprises of 4 fields divided by electric fencing into 12 distinct pasture areas. Troughs have been placed in the middle of the fields so they can be accessed from each area, with the water pipes running along the field wall boundaries and under the electric fencing. The cows will go into each area first, they nibble off the top few inches of grass over a period of 3 days, they then move onto the next section and the sheep move in to nibble the next few inches. Apparently the key is not to overgraze, just to stimulate the grass to grow also providing it with some natural manure. The animals also benefit by eating the most nutritious parts of the grass then moving on to the next pasture. Allowing for a few changes in timing the cows should be back on the first pasture area after about a month by which time it will have had time to grow again (providing we get some rain!)
Very easy to see where they have been!
The cows were moved onto the first section of the system about 10 days ago, followed 3 days later by the sheep. So far a great success, all the animals seem very settled and are extremely easy to move from one section to another.
Waiting for to be moved through to the next quadrant
We have other fields kept out of the rotational grazing system to use for haylage and for the other animals ie Trevor the Ram and Tim the Bull. Our next step will be to overseed some of the fields.