Our rotational grazing system as settled into a pleasing routine, understood by both humans and animals. With the addition of our new flock of Royal White sheep, we found that each small paddock is grazed much faster than the four days it took with fewer animals. Who could have predicted such a thing?
The beauty of the rotational grazing is that it doesn’t matter – we just move them more often. Constant monitoring is teaching us a lot about our animals – which types of grasses they like best for example. When moved to a new paddock, they will initially explore, grabbing a bite here and there as they go. Once they have become familiar with the space, they’ll settle down to graze in earnest, cropping favorite grasses low to the ground quickly. By the second night they are eating the grasses that are edible but less preferred. Most paddocks have been grazed thoroughly after 48 hours these days and they let me know when they think it is time to move, by standing and bellowing at me whenever they see me. If I agree with them (and generally I do), I get out the back-up fence, set up a new paddock (which takes about 20 minutes), fill a new bucket of water, and then open the fence between the old and new paddocks. They watch me work, bellowing encouragement (or so I like to believe – in reality I’m sure I’m being told to “Hurry up, Wench”) and when I move to let them through, they are quick to run into the new area and start exploring.
Having secured them in the new paddock, I take down the old fence and then mow the area. This is to cut down grasses and weeds they won’t eat. Our hope is that over time, by cutting down what they won’t eat, we will allow the grasses they do eat to out-compete the weeds, improving our pastures, at the same time we are controlling parasites by the frequent moves.