Sheep don’t need to eat the small stuff

For weeks now we haven’t had any rain. The sun has been shining bright. Some days it’s been very warm and others it’s been bloomin’ hot.

Sheep using natural shade

Whilst we have melted some days, the livestock has done really well. They have found shelter under trees, hedges, coops and in dry ditches. We have had to increase their water supply by driving 200 litres to them twice a day. Our farm does not have an automated water supply system for any of the animals. But it’s been ok and we’ve managed with our ‘trusty steed’, the landrover.

It’s been interesting (and very sad) seeing some threads on social media about how people are really struggling with their animals. Some are dying of heat-stroke and others are running out of grass due to scorching. Flies also seem to be a problem for some with chemical warfare being the preferred solution (inclined to rant about this so will save for another post)

The climate IS changing and farming needs to really adapt in a way that allows ALL animals and the land to be supported. One cannot exist without the other. Animals dying due to the weather, lack of grass to graze animals and cracked or flooded fields should not be the experience of any farm.

So why hasn’t this weather affected us?

I come back to this statement time and time again…….WE DO NOT use CHEMICALS . I heavily capitalise on the fact that our animals have a wealth of immunological experience. They have built up their immune systems over time and this strength is passed on. The lambs are strong and healthy and do not require immunisation. All our animals are supported using homeopathic remedies, low stress management and good varied pasture grazing. This all helps to support high levels of health and vitality.

Longer grass protecting the slower growing plants below

Low stocking density, rotational grazing, hedges and grazing on mixed length pastures ensure the soil on the farm is also supported. The longer grasses have protected from the sun, the much slower growing plants. This has ensured there is enough grass for the sheep to eat. Apart from mineral lick buckets provided for the sheep in day-light hours, grass is the only food they have. Under this holistic system the lambs are not fed concentrates and grow perfectly well and the ewes and rams remain in good condition ready for next tupping.

Grass still green and lush despite the hot weather

Organic farming systems are the way forward. I personally don’t understand how farms survive when each and every day a battle seams to ensue against disease, parasites and nature herself. Perhaps, traditional farming is so entrenched in man/money-centric activities that people can’t stand back and REALLY look at what is going on. At the heart of farming and literally its foundation is the earth. Shouldn’t farming and farmers be switching their practices so that earth-centric activities are the MOST important focus on the farm? If we asked the earth what SHE wanted she wouldn’t say ‘ I need a heap of chemicals dumped on me on a regular basis’ or’ I want every blade of grass grazed to an inch of its life so it struggles to regain strength and life’.   Changing and extreme weather patterns is a ‘wake-up’ call for farmers to really think about their actions and impact on the small piece of this planet we are custodian off. If we support the land we farm, that land WILL support our enterprise whether its livestock, arable or a mixture of both.

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