How much land do you require for 3 18 month ewes?

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10 years 1 month ago #37444 by Morgs
Hi All, look like we have secured 3 ewes. Another trader has 4 and a ram which would be ideal but concerned we may not have enough grass. How much is required per sheep on average, understand there is a few variables to consider. Thanks of all of your help. Em :D

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10 years 1 month ago #485624 by tonic
Just for the 3 ewes or are they in lamb? What area are you in?

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10 years 1 month ago #485625 by Stikkibeek
Rule of thumb is 5-8 ewes per acre with good use of rotational grazing. (variable depending on locality)That means you need good internal fencing for the most economical use of grazing.

Did you know, that what you thought I said, was not what I meant :S

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10 years 1 month ago #485626 by muri
I dont think 5-8 ewes is possible to be honest, especially on a small block.
2-3 to the acre would be more realistic, especially if pregnant. I would start with two per acre if you are uncertain
Remember, when working out your grazing, you dont include the house and non grazing areas in your calculations.
The other thing to take into account would be how many paddocks you have so how long you are able to rest one and let it recover before putting the sheep back.
When starting out, go for the smallest number not the largest group and see how you get on.
Feeding sheep in the winter is an expensive business and not worth it.
Then there are different size sheep which have different grazing needs, the larger the sheep, the more it will eat so there are a number of variables.
Coatsville is an area not known for high quality grasses and soils

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10 years 1 month ago #485629 by kindajojo
yep as Muri says i was told 6 to the acre and tried that with disasterious results..having to buy in feed and no one did very well lots of worm issues. Now i recommend 2 ewes per acre 5 for 2 acres. This will make it comfortable through winter no extra feed required and if in lamb will give good feed thorough Spring. Make hay in Summer.
Depends on area of course but best to start low and work up rather than start with high numbers and have starving animals.

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10 years 1 month ago #485632 by Stikkibeek
I'm pretty sure that 5-8 ewes per acre, doesn't mean that on a 5 acre block you would have up to 30 head of sheep! That would take no account of spelling paddocks while they regrow. What it would mean, is that if you have 5 x 1 acre paddocks, you would graze 5-8 sheep on one paddock, while the rest recover.
My statistics come from ag papers from Ruakura, so I don't think they would publish that if not correct.

Did you know, that what you thought I said, was not what I meant :S

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10 years 1 month ago #485633 by Cigar
We ran farmlets of up to 16 ewes per hectare, but that was on elite ash soils with very good fertility. Lambing date was set to match the pasture growth curve, and lambs went off at weaning. Lower fertility farmlets struggled at 10 ewes per hectare.

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10 years 1 month ago #485636 by muri
Stocking rates are now seen as not been a particularly useful way of deciding what your farm can carry.
Every farm is different and you cant have an across the board rule that is going to fit every situation.
Also ideas have changed and fertility of sheep has improved thats why statistics like the ones quoted above are not really very useful or meaningful.
I had around 3 to the acre last year and felt that was too many so have cut back this year to around 2.5 which feels about right.
I also have 12 paddocks, some of which are small as I have cut paddocks in half with sheep netting. It makes a huge difference to saving grass and what you can get out of a property compared with larger paddocks.
My property is also in good heart with good fertility and definitely came thru the last two droughts in good shape compared with the surrounding farms.
Keeping numbers down on a life style block is a choice you can make which can benefit animal health as well as your pocket. Feeding sheep thru the winter is not cheap

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10 years 1 month ago #485637 by tonic

Stikkibeek;489792 wrote: I'm pretty sure that 5-8 ewes per acre, doesn't mean that on a 5 acre block you would have up to 30 head of sheep!

I'm pretty sure it does mean that. It is the number of animals the land can carry per acre, so you multiply that amount by the number of acres. It would assume that you are grazing them well in a rotation to allow the land to recover, so the suggested amount from a research farm would be for land that is well managed.

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10 years 1 month ago #485646 by muri
Tonic, no matter how well you manage your land, you still cant do 8 ewes to the acre. 50-80 ewes on my block would be crazy and I would have starving animals much of the year .
The land just wouldnt have time to recover and the parasite level would be huge
When considering stocking units on the land, you should not be looking at the maximum you can fit on at any one point of time, but what the land can carry in the worst periods ie during summer drought or winter conditions.
It is the worst conditions that limit your stock numbers as these are the times that are most difficult to get thru. And 50-80 ewes could meant 150 after lambing if everyone had twins, -no way it would work

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10 years 1 month ago #485654 by hilldweller

tonic;489797 wrote: I'm pretty sure it does mean that. It is the number of animals the land can carry per acre, so you multiply that amount by the number of acres. It would assume that you are grazing them well in a rotation to allow the land to recover, so the suggested amount from a research farm would be for land that is well managed.

Yep agree, it does mean that, but 8 is a very high stocking rate so would only apply on really good quality, well managed pasture. 4-5 is perhaps more of an average, and for a small block I'd go less again because of fewer paddocks, less flexibility and less variation across the block. Better to start with fewer and build up after a couple of seasons if it looks like there's the capacity.

I think carrying capacity is normally calculated as of 30 June - which works well down here because that's when the pasture's not growing - so the calculation (assuming sheep only to make it simpler) includes only the stock on the property at that time which is ewes plus replacements plus rams, but no lambs/hoggets as the previous season's have gone to the works and the next season's haven't been born yet. The assumption is that if, say, I can carry 100 sheep stock units in mid winter when the feed supply is at its worst, then by summer, with the grass growing again, there will be enough feed to carry those 100 plus the new lambs. Obviously only a rule of thumb, not an exact science. For those of who you get summer droughts which coincide with an increase in stock numbers due to lambing I think you'd need to include the lambs in your calculations.

hilldweller

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10 years 1 month ago #485662 by muri
I think the short answer to the question would be to get the smaller group. I would assume by now most ewes are already pregnant and a ram would be an uncessary extra on a small block. Most rams have finished their work by now so perhaps someone is trying to palm off their ram?

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10 years 1 month ago #485668 by tonic

muri;489807 wrote: Tonic, no matter how well you manage your land, you still cant do 8 ewes to the acre.

Muri, I wasn't commenting on the numbers just the fact that I thought so many to an acre meant exactly that...

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10 years 1 month ago #485795 by igor
I believe that tonic is right. The total carrying capacity of a block equals the number of stock units per acre times the number of grazable acres. Note grazable acres, not the total area of the land holding. That said in some areas carrying capacity could well be expressed in acres to the sheep rather than sheep to the acre.

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10 years 1 month ago #485798 by muri
Tonic I do see what you are saying.
Do you think, out of interest, its possible tho to fit in 8 sheep to the acre on really well managed land, or even 5 sheep to take it to the lesser number.
I am assuming that the figure would not be based in buying in feed,
Friends of mine who did 5 sheep to the acre, well fertilised and broken down to a number of smaller paddocks, and in auckland where we get some winter growth, had a bald farm for three months and a huge feed bill for the sheep.
Just too many feet on the land in the winter wet

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