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  • Writer's pictureWayne

The downside of peak pasture growth rates

Updated: Sep 29, 2020

There are two problems at this gorgeous time of year. Hayfever (ironic that ryegrass is so important to us, and the main cause of my hayfever allergies), and undergrazed pastures.

I moved two mobs of sheep this morning. In the photo below, these ewes with rams (~1,000) were being moved into their next paddock. It is so tempting to let them stay for another week, or two, but I can't because they have had 7-days in this paddock, and the next paddock is even more excessive. The downside of spring is that despite thick pastures having lots of biomass, the bottom leaves are senescing and are not being utilised. Weeds like bromegrass also get left to set seed because the sheep have so much feed that they can be selective. Sigh.

The next few photos are from the trade sheep mob (~1260) of them. They are doing an even worse job in eating the pastures down. They'd only be 30-40kg live weight compared to the ewes above being 60-75kg's. But they had been in there for 8-days and it is time to move despite it not being ideal for the pasture composition to take them out before they had eaten the pastures down enough.

This is what the trade sheep were taken out of... come into this paddock.

Flattened pasture as the trade sheep enter their new paddock for the next 7-days.

The trade sheep now in their new paddock.

You can't see it in the photos, but the kikuyu underneath is growing very well. I am very happy seeing that because summer is coming. All that ryegrass and clover will soon be brown and it will be those residues combined with the kikuyu that will need to support the sheep in the coming hot months.

Because this is our first year on this property, and because it was such an infertile and acidic property, I do not mind that there is a lot of unused pasture. It will be very useful in building up the soil organic matter and feeding all the soil bugs and earthworms that not only make the soil alive and turn over nutrition, but will move lime and trace elements further into the soil profile. And we were blessed in the last few days to receive an unexpected 19mm of rain and conditions are cool and sunny. Gorgeous spring weather.

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