Small Acreage Livestock

 

 

Amy Dunnington and David Borkman, Gilbert Stuart Road,
North Kingstown, RI

This farm served as a demonstration site from 2003 - 2006 as part of the initital Healthy Landscapes Education Program.

What you will see!

Area 1: Pasture management - sheep and poultry - this page

Area 2: Livestock yard management and rain barrels

Area 3: Homestead - pet waste managment, rain barrels and permeable paving

Back to livestock demonstration sites

Area 1: Pasture management - sheep and poultry - this page

Setting: The farm currently raises between 6 to 10 sheep, four sheep dogs (trained as working herd dogs), and 12 layer hens. The farm contains about one acre of land, with about 1/3 acre available for grazing. The farm also has access to about 4 acres of pasture located one mile away and historically used about 0.5 acre of neighboring land for additional pasture until 2006.

The farm also has a vegetable and flower garden (about 1,400 sq. ft.) which is planted to a winter rye cover crop in the fall and receives chicken and sheep manure and bedding collected during winter months. The home is served by a private drinking water well.


October 2003, moving the sheep to a new paddock on adjacent neighboring land.

The owners have been renovating the pasture to improve forage species, forage quality and quantity. Lime and fertilizer have been applied based on soil test results. White clover has been seeded to improve soil fertility and pasture quality.

Portable electranet fencing and portable battery fence chargers are used to manage the sheep grazing on a rotational basis. The layer hens have been raised in a coop with a small, permanent fenced yard and the manure and bedding are used in the vegetable garden.

Goals:

April - October: Continue to improve pastures for desired forage species, forage quality and quantity, as well as to properly recycle manure and protect water quality. Additional soil tests will be collected to monitor and amend soil fertility as needed. The sheep will be rotated between the home farm and the available pasture located one mile away. This will allow the pasture area at the home farm to rest and re-grow. Making use of neighboring land that is available for grazing also reduces feed costs.


Electranet fencing for sheep -- electrified netting. This fencing system is portable and is key in allotting the amount of pasture forage needed over a given grazing period.

The owners generally use a two day grazing period which requires a rough paddock sizing of 65 to 75 feet square (up to 5,625 sq. ft. ) when grazing all 10 sheep together. The key with this system of grazing is that paddock size can be changed as needed to provide the required feed for the given grazing period. Paddock sizing will change based on the number of animals being grazed, the grasses present within the paddock area, the effects of improvements being made, soil type, current weather conditions and time of year.

The immediate forefront shows where the sheep grazed prior to the current fenced paddock. The area to the top-left of the photo shows where the sheep will move to next once the existing paddock has been grazed. July 2003.

White clover, introduced in the previous year to enhance soil fertility and pasture nutrition and palatability. Care must be taken to prevent bloat in ruminants such as sheep and cows. White clover should not populate more than 40% of the pasture. July 2003

Pasture area recently clipped to eliminate ungrazed clumps and promote new leaf growth, July 2003.

Intellishock 20B battery powered fence charger system using a rechargeable 12 volt car battery -- it is very important that fence chargers are properly grounded and operating so that the animals respect the fence.


Solar panel and 9-volt dry cell battery was installed in August 2003. The dry cell battery is much lighter to carry and is not rechargeable. The solar panel increases the life of the battery.

back to top

Grazing poultry: The owners began to graze their poultry during the 2003 grazing season as part of this project. The benefits include a more uniform balance and dispersal of poultry manure over the land available, as well as natural pest control--both with grubs in the soil and pasture parasites that can affect the sheep (by scattering the sheep manure and exposing it to the sun).

The recommended management is to follow up the sheep paddocks with the poultry where feasible. In the case of layer hens, this also results in the need for a moveable coop. Bird predation from hawks and other birds of prey can be an issue with this system. Periodic soil testing should be conducted to monitor nutrient levels in the soil.


Poultry net fencing -- electrified netting designed for grazing poultry.

For more information about pasture managment

Pastures, Fencing, and Watering on Small Acreages: Protecting Our Drinking Water, Families & Animals, Fact Sheet 3 of our small acreage livestock series

USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service - Warwick, RI (401) 828-1300

Additional Resources on Pasture Management


Area 2: Livestock yard management and rain barrels

Area 3: Homestead - pet waste managment, rain barrels and permeable paving

Back to livestock demonstration sites