The Plans Change - Onto Swath Grazing

Remember two blog posts ago; I wrote about winter grazing and how the plans might change.

We received more snow. This last snowfall was preceded by ice fog / rain. Fence posts, wires, gates etc are coated with a thick white ice. Then the temperature plummeted.

It is not the best conditions for winter grazing livestock. With the crusty ice layer and the added snow I worried that grazing on the grass pastures would require too much effort for the ewes for not enough gain. We decided to move the flock over to the millet swaths. It is easier to find a swath of grass and to follow the swath under the snow, than it is to find the dormant grass on a grazed pasture.

The paddock where the flock was grazing, and the millet pasture, meet at one corner. However, the move as I pictured it, was going to be a long one that required travel to the North half a mile, through the yard, then East around wetlands and bush to reach the next gate and then back South a quarter mile. The move as Allen pictured it, eliminated all the travel. His idea was to lift the fence wires at the corner where the paddocks meet and let the sheep cross there.

We filled the back of the Ranger with hay and forked a couple piles where we wanted the animals to cross under the wire.  Theoretically, once the sheep passed through the North-side gate located near the East corner all they had to do was turn East and pass under the wire. For the ewes, the familiar route is through the gate and an immediate turn to the West. We were hoping the hay would draw their attention to the East and encourage them to pass under the wire.

It worked like a charm! The dogs and I brought the flock to the gate. Allen moved ahead and parked the Ranger to block the familiar West turn route. The lead bunch passed through the gate and stopped there, immediately assessing the unfamiliarity of the situation. The dogs held the back of the flock.

Being ignorant and innocent about moving adventures, it was a ewe lamb who marched under the wires and headed for the little piles of hay. A few sheep followed and one discovered the first millet swath. The buzz about the new feed spread through the flock without delay. The entire flock poured through and our move was done. The longest part was the gather and walk to the corner.

This all took place in mid afternoon.  Three hours later we were back out for the evening check and I was surprised at how much ground the girls had uncovered. They are not having any trouble finding the feed here.