Monday, October 25, 2010

Article: Grazing Methods on the Small Farm or Homestead

Whether you have one or two pet goats or a herd of a thousand cattle, there are grazing methods you can use to save money and get the most use out of your grazing land even if that "grazing land" is just your backyard.

The commonest grazing method is called continuous grazing. This is when you have one fenced grazing area and you keep your animals there year-round. This has the advantage that it is cheaper, as regards fence costs,
than the other method. A properly designed grazing fence will keep your animals where you want them, and keep them out of the garden and away from the rosebushes and other temptations. It will keep bears and stray dogs from being able to harm your animals.

But there are disadvantages to continuous grazing. Over time you will find that they overgraze the grass nearest the barn and undergraze the most distant areas.

Read More:

An article of mine published on Associated Content.

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Sunday, October 24, 2010

Article: Which Sheep to Keep?

Every year sheep farmers are faced with a decision: which of the ewe lambs born on the farm should be kept in the flock. Here is how such decisions should be made.

Every year, just as the sheep farmer is recovering from the chaos of lambing season, another tough time looms— the time when the farmer must make the decision on which of the new lamb-y bundles of joy get to stay on the farm and which must be sold.

Read more:

This is a recent article of mine published through

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Saturday, October 23, 2010

Article: Beginner's Guide to Buying Sheep

Are you looking to buy your first flock of sheep? Sheep are amazingly useful animals, as well as being fun. There is a sheep breed for every need, and with a little research you can find the one that is right for you.

The first question to answer is what you want your sheep for. If you are a handspinner and want lovely wool, there are breeds such as the Shetland, Icelandic, Border Leicester and many others that are beloved by handspinners. If you don't want wool at all, there are hair sheep who shed their scanty wool naturally and don't need to be sheared, such as the Dorper or St. Croix.

If you love to eat lamb, an important factor is the flavor of lamb you prefer. Read more....

Friday, October 22, 2010

New Edition of Paula Simmons Sheep book is out

When I first started out with raising sheep, the best book I found was Raising Sheep the Modern Way by Paula Simmons. It provided a wealth of information, and the description of the Shetland sheep breed was what inspired me to choose the breed for my flock.

More recently I acquired Storey's Guide to Raising Sheep: Breeds, Care, Facilities, which is the same book but very much re-written and updated. It also had very useful information (but lacked a bit or two out of the earlier edition).

Now I see that a new edition is available. Is it worth getting? Judging by my past experience, yes it is, and I hope to be able to get a copy of my own soon.

Many sheep books I have owned have not been worth much, but this book, in all its editions, is worth its weight in gold.

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Monday, October 18, 2010

New Forum for Prolific Sheep (Booroola, Romanov, Finn, Thoka Icelandic)

There is a new forum that has just been started on the topic of prolific sheep--- prolific breed sheep such as Booroola, Finnsheep and Romanov as well as ordinary sheep being bred to be more prolific. The forum is at:

I don't have prolific sheep myself, in fact I only had 2 sets of twin lambs out of the whole herd this spring. But I certainly would like to have more prolific sheep and am interested in the breeds and methods of doing so.

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Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Building With Stock Panels: Basic Hay Feeder

Hay costs money. Anything which will increase the amount of hay from each bale which is eaten rather than wasted is a good thing.  A basic, box-style hay feeder will keep the hay from being stepped on and trampled while being eaten, and so less will be wasted.

Building materials for this feeder are hog-type stock panels. Combination panels can also be used. If you have some stock panels which have been damaged but which still have good sections, they are good to cut up for this purpose. To cut stock panels, use a bolt cutter. Long handled ones work best.

The long sides on my feeder are 5 units/holes long, the short sides are 3 units/holes long. This makes a size that fits the hay bales I get around here.  I took hog panel sections and cut them to the lengths I wanted, then cut off the top sections so the bottom/remaining sections were a bit over 1 foot high. 

The reason I used hog panels and not cattle panels is that the hog panels, as you can see, have narrowly spaced bars at the bottom and so will hold the hay in, and also the sheep and goats cannot eat through the bottom section the way they could through a cattle panel section.

Now, I fastened the stock panel sections to each other to form a rectangle with U-bolts, 1/4 inch size. You could also use wire or baler twine if you are short of cash, at least until you can afford the U-bolts.

Now, take the cut off tops from the side sections and cut off any protruding sections of bar. Fasten one of these sections to the bottom of your rectangular box with more U-bolts. It will only cover about half of the bottom, but that's OK. The purpose of it is to keep your rectangular box rectangular.

The next cut-off section will be your feeder's top. Place the top across the middle of the feeder. On one side, attach with some quick links or spring clips. These will act as a hinge. On the other side, use one or two spring clips to hold the top in place. (You can also use wire or baler twine as a cheap substitute for the quick links and spring clips.)

To put hay in the feeder, unclip the spring clips which hold the top in place and put the hay bale in. Be sure and remove the baler twine from the bale and put it away wherever you keep your 'building supplies'. Clip the top back in place with the spring clips.

The feeder top serves to prevent your sheep and goats from standing on the hay bale.  Since it does not cover the whole top, the animals can eat all the way to the bottom of the bale.

You can also use the feeder without the top. This is great when you have an animal you don't want to get in the pen with. Just put the feeder close to the fence of the pen and toss the hay in.

This is a U-bolt. I think sometimes they are called cable clamps. (One of the nuts is missing from this one.) The 1/4 inch size is great for working with stock panels. It's also a good idea to have a few 1/2 inch ones for working with bent stock panels and complicated situations.

If you have a bent stock panel, sometimes you can use a 1/2 inch U-bolt to fasten it tightly, then put a 1/4 inch right next to the 1/2 inch U-bolt and remove the more expensive 1/2 inch one.

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