June 20, 2024

From the Pastures: Down to stubble

My flock is eating the 36-day-old wheat stubble weeds, as in forbs, and red clover right now and should have them eaten to the ground in eight days. Last week I ordered a 10-species forage cover crop mix that I’ll plant into the eaten-down wheat stubble after they get it all eaten.

I plan on spinning on the small seeds, like turnips and red clover, and drilling in the larger seeds, like oats and rye, then using a cultimulcher to roll it all down. Then I’ll mow any standing weeds or stems that have not been eaten or trampled to form a mulch over the top of the seeds. I might leave a “test strip” or two to see if the rolling helps or hurts the emergence and stand thickness. The last two years I think the rolling has hurt me with emergence and stand thickness.

I could use a rain. The corn and beans do look good, but I do have half-inch cracks in my ground and the lawn grass is turning brown. The taller residual stubble height and longer rest periods have really helped my forage to regrow. The forage is taller and thicker on my second and third rotations and I can see it in the animal’s body condition and wool coat.

I’ll be weaning the lambs shortly and moving the ewes to the various farmettes that I made baleage off of on June 3. This grass will have been rested for over 100 days since I cut it so it will be fully regrown and that will diminish the worm load that the sheep will ingest. This will increase the rate of gain on these ewes so they will be closer to a body score of a 3 by the time they get bred in December.

Also there has been almost one year since this ground has had my sheep on it so that will help cleanse this ground of internal parasites that the sheep could ingest. Plus cutting it for hay helps clean up some of the worms and this is how I keep from having to de-worm my sheep. Enjoy the cooler weather. I sure am.

Elton Mau

Elton Mau

Arrowsmith, Ill.