Saturday, September 15, 2012

Sheep Stocking Rate

A number of factors are involved in deciding how many sheep can be kept per acre.

These factors include:
1. Soil type (rocky - sandy - clay)
2. Species of plant (grass- weeds - clover)
3. Rainfall or irrigation
4. Climate
5. Fertility of soil
6. Topography (hill - slope - marsh)
7. Pregnant Ewes - Ewes in lactation - Dry Ewes
8. Can pasture be rotated?

Sheep don't do as well when pasture is overstocked. Older ewes suffer most as their poor teeth make it harder for them to cut on overgrazed pasture. The short grass results in less feed per bite. Even teeth of younger ewes will suffer from having to cut short grass as more dirt and sand enters the mouth resulting in accelerated tooth ware.

At Karras Fram we estimate four sheep per acre off good pasture, with grade A hay and some grain in the winter. Poor pasture would cut the stocking rate in half with roughly two sheep per acre and supplement feed in the winter. If you are new to sheep farming we would advocate keeping the stocking rate low the first year to determine how the pasture holds up?

Wishing you all a fantastic weekend and good grazing!

Andy Karras
Karras Farm