We have not received any rain since the first week of October and we are starting to see the deep white sands and shallow soils browning off quite quickly. Where the soil is deeper, the pasture is hitting peak growth rates. Ryegrass is flowering and setting seed. We will soon have brown ryegrass everywhere with green kikuyu underneath, unless the rain coming this weekend is substantial.
Against my original intentions, we are going to cut a few paddocks for hay and we have borrowed a small boom spray to spraytop bromegrass and barley grass patches with paraquat. We have not got enough sheep to utilise the pasture and as you will see in the photo's, it is not good. The kikuyu and clovers are struggling for light. We needed at least 4,000 more trade sheep to utilise what we grew, which could have been substantially more if fertilised more. Sigh.
We would be able to extend the time of green pastures if we had enough sheep to eat the pastures down properly. As it is, we are leaving far too much uneaten material behind and substantial amounts just trodden on. It will be good for the soil organic matter and ryegrass seed returning to the paddocks, but not great for clover seed production and kikuyu quality. The quality of the ryegrass left behind is poorer too because of the bottom senescing leaves and more woody stems.
On the plus side, we have had a wonderful win with a new ultrawhite ram we purchased while much richer bidders were distracted (divine intervention I call it). We call him Cassius. Only elite rams will get a name. We also hope to purchase a few SheepMaster rams in their coming sale, and we have 25 new ultrawhite rams coming in January. Therefore, we could afford to be picky, so we culled our rams from 48 down to 14, then four new ones came in, so we currently have 18 rams. The elite one from Hillcroft stud (Cassius) is in with the girls by himself at the moment for one cycle. The day we take him out, he will go into another mob of ewes. We culled on poor feet, too much hair/wool, horns and poor structure. Only one needed culling for scouring.
We will continue to cull any ewes with hooves that need trimming (being trimmed next week) but we will get them into lamb first then sell them. Many are really good ewes that would better suit a dryer environment where their hooves can wear down better. Now that we have some really good rams, we should be able to build up our flock to be of much better quality suited to this environment.