July 15, 2024

From the Pastures: Converting animal units

The lambing period took 19 days and ended June 7, just before it started to get hot. It was nice to lamb out the ewes close to the house on my permanent pastures. Then I rotated them over to the cereal rye/red clover and volunteer wheat field that had a 45-day rest since I last grazed it. I have 105 ewes and about 150 lambs on 1.25 acres for two days.

To convert that to “animal units,” this is one 1,000-pound dry cow for the cow guys. This amount of sheep equals 17.25 AU. So I could run 17 1,000-pound cows on the same acreage for the two days to convert it over to cattle. This is the same field that I rolled down some of the rye because it was so tall. I do not see any difference in the regrowth of the red clover but the cereal rye did shoot up new plants that the sheep will eat. Where I didn’t roll it down, the rye is very tall and mature so the sheep won’t eat it.

There are a lot of grazing pasture walks coming up. Go to www.ilgrazinglands.org to see the pasture walks listed by the Illinois Grazing Lands Coalition. One I’m going to is from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. June 27 at Doug Hanson’s in Danforth, Illinois, where integrating crops and livestocks will be discussed. The other one I’ll attend is from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. June 29 at Rocky Ford Ranch in Trenton, Illinois, where the topics will be grazing sheep, cover crops and meat marketing.

The Land of Lincoln Border Collie Association’s annual stock dog trials will be July 12-14 at the beautiful Three Sisters Park in Chillicothe, Illinois. Come and watch the dogs work the sheep and see how valuable a good dog can be! For more info, go to threesisterspark.com.

Elton Mau

Elton Mau

Arrowsmith, Ill.