So in the 4 weeks since my new grazing plan began, I've really noticed now much calmer the flock seems in general. In the past at this time of year the sheep would be left on the same land for about 3 months now, only being disturbed for clipping time, so very much out the habit of having human contact. However now they are being moved to new pasture each week, (and observed in the field daily) they have become much tamer and have quickley got used to the moving routine, realising that there is a treat (fresh pasture) after being moved. The sheep look physically well, their fleece is 'lifting' ready for clipping, they have no evidence or internal parasites or lameness.
So the initial plan is to move the flock onto fresh ground every week. I've divided the land into 8 'blocks' of roughly similar sizes but quite varied in terms of type and condition of land. Some of the land can't be used in poor weather (access during snow/heavy rain becomes impossible with a wide beck to cross), so the plan is a flexible one. Each day I'm checking the health and contentment of the sheep, along with how the land is looking. I anticipate that the first few months, and probably at least the first year will be very much trial and error, so regular observations are going to be vital to ensure neither land or animals suffer.
I'll be writing more about why I have chosen this style of grazing management in a future post...but so far all good
1st June 2013, and after much thought, debate, doubt and now excitement, today I am starting a new system of the way I use animals to graze the land here. This is of course part of the bigger picture of using permaculture design to guide and influence my farming work (and life in general). Prior to today the sheep have spent most of the year grazing a series of fields amounting to about 100 acres in total, spending about 10 months on the same grass. For the last 2 years, (after replacing fencing to make the land secure), for the other 2 months the flock has grazed another 30 acre or so area of land, which is difficult to access in the winter. The Grazing Diaries aim to document and explore the new grazing system.