Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Sheep "tractor"





Here's the long awaited fully-developed rotational grazing set-up at MOFGA. Eight sheep (four ewes and four lambs) occupy a 328-foot circumference round enclosure made of Premier brand two-wire electric fence. A small shade/rain shelter provides a home base. the shelter is on wheels and can be pulled around. It has a feed trough inside (made from a left-over section of four-inch sewer pipe sawn in half -- everything in this set-up was recycled from a previous use).

The sheep are fed a small amount of local grain daily in their shelter. That and its presence as their friendly rain and sun shade accustoms them to going in and out of the shelter daily. But, the nasty secret is, there's a gate, and so the sheep can be captured using the shelter. And while they're caught, you can move the fence 90% over to a new patch of grass, leaving the shelter on the 10% overlap. No sheepdogs or other high-tech sheep moving systems needed. Sorry, Mr. Haggis.

Just be sure to move the shelter to the right overlap point before trapping your sheep.

Very crafty, Mick. We'll see if it works. I'm sure either we, or the sheep, can find a way to screw it up.

Also pictured is the other grass-mowing system at MOFGA, a guy on a tractor. We expect to phase him out eventually. Not quite though. Experience has shown that some trimming is still needed from time to time even with a sheep-mowing job. But much less mowing overall is needed, about a 90% reduction, much less hours of work total once you've got the system figured out, far less weed-whacking and corner trimming in general, and , and you get meat and wool back.

Why we ever though lawn-mowing was a good idea in the first place, is beyond me.

4 comments:

DEANNA STOPPLER said...

Very cool, Mick. My dad used to tether the horses to mow the lawn, that or set up the fencer until they got the job done. But it requires a lot of poop scooping, not to mention the energy it takes to feed and water the horses. Well, if you have a horse it works. Good luck to you!

DEANNA STOPPLER said...

Plus, horses are easier to catch than sheep . . . sometimes.

Mick said...

Sheep have much nicer poop. Little dung balls that the dung beetles just love to carry away to their underground burrows. It's usually gone in a few days, especially if it rains.

Take care Deanna. Good luck with the job hunt.

Empress said...

I want to see the follow up. How did it work out? Our sheep pretty much ignore electric sheep netting. We are trying to come up with some sort of workable sheep tractor for 3-6 sheep also.