Free wood chips for bedding of sheep?greenspun.com : LUSENET : Countryside : One Thread
Has anyone used wood chips for bedding with sheep? My sheep are a muddy mess today. They are currently fenced in paddock on a hillside. However the straw I have been putting down all winter is acting like a sponge. Should I scrape the existing straw away with the tractor? There is not a lot of topsoil before the clay/rock is exposed. I am not apposed to removing the soil but the straw is like a filter before the waste runs down hill to the neighbors house just beyond the sheep's fence. That's another reason why I don't let them in the 1/4 acre field below them.
Can I add wood chips over the straw to keep the sheep from sinking in to the straw? Wood chips are FREE at a nearby town. Mostly sticks with some bark. In Madison, the free wood chips are more bark than sticks but then I have to bring the trailer a long way for each load.
It will be another three weeks, at least, before the grass has grown enough to move them out to pasture. I have an fenced 1/4 acre field next to them but it has no grass, just a little bit of clover which is just getting started. Nothing really to eat. I plan to use that field to train the lambs on the electric netting fence. If I let the sheep in there it will be a mud mess in no time. Right now I let them in for short periods, only on dry days, while I work on the paddock area.
-- BossNass (email@example.com), April 10, 2002
I use free wood chips for bedding for everything! Chickens, goats, horses, whatever.
If your sheep are in a pasture setting, it shouldn't be a problem, however, you might want to make sure that the chips don't contain any black walnut, as I've heard that if they eat them it won't be healthy.
-- chuck in md (firstname.lastname@example.org), April 11, 2002.
If you are concerned about the quality of your fleeces it may not be a good idea to use chips especially bark; all those little bits would get stuck in there and never come out. I have the same problem and one of the things we will do this year is improve drainage by redirecting the runoff away from the paddock. Otherwise we are swimming in mud in places! How do you train lambs on the electric net fencing? I've always just let them lose when they are at least a month old and too big to slip through (I have Shetlands which are really small when lambs).
-- Kathy (email@example.com), April 11, 2002.
Sheep aren't too bad for eating chips, still it would be nice to know what kind of tree most came from. We used tonnes of cedar chips the power company dropped off when they cleaned a local line. Worked OK. I'd think fleece quality would suffer, it's suffering now too though! Training lambs on electric!?!!? I must have the worst track record for training anything to respect electric fences. I don't use them on anything but the horses. A fellow once told me he lined the walls of his loafing shed with every type of electric fence he used and charged it all winter. They couldn't get through and learned what they looked like. Sounded resonable to me, too bad I gave away my good fencer and the horses use the cheapo one.
-- Ross (firstname.lastname@example.org), April 11, 2002.
"Wood chips in the wool" I don't care, the wool is not worth anything anyway. Sheep are to keep me in Ag status for property taxes. Raising them as meat not wool. I have not picked up the wood chips yet. I will see if I have time this weekend.
"train lambs on electric netting fence" I am not sure how to do this either! However, my ewes (which I purchased last summer) are very trained. THey will NOT go under/over any white/black fencing material. Even if the power is turned off. I am using fencing from Premier1. I used a small battery fencer last summer that really was weak. Mostly it trained my dogs to stay away from the sheep. Maybe the coyottes as well.
I now have a 120V fence charger that is good for 100 miles. Should really give a good kick! Will install this weekend. I still need to clear the old fence line and run new wire to the back of the property about 1000 feet from the coop were I will plug it in. I will tap off the permenate fence to power the temp fences in the pasture.
I will let you know how well it works. I use Management Intensive Grazing, which means I move the sheep nearly everyday to a new area. Last summer I got away with three side made by the netting and the forth side just a single line of polywire strung back and forth three times along the contour of the hillside. I try to explain that better.
My hillside was contour plowed strips of hay and soybeans. Each strip is about 100' wide by 600' long. I ran the main fence of polywire with the contour on temporary fence posts on the up hill side of the field. Usually only three wires at 6", 18" and maybe +30" for a length of 600 feet. Then I use the netting to make an L shape coming down off the mainline fence. Putting two L's together makes the pasture area about 100x50. I have enough fencing to make three areas at a time. About every other day, I let the sheep into the next area. When they reach the third field, I take down the fence from the first two areas and build on at the other end. I only power the main fence and two peices of netting at a time.
I only had problems I had were with the ram-lamb and a few ewe-lambs going thru the three string polywire fence. His is in my freezer now! His chops were REALLY good last weekend! ;-) The ewe-lamb is marked to be culled for a number of reasons.
I am going to train the new lambs inside a paddock area with a permenate (sp?) wovenwire fence to catch anyone that gets out.
-- BossNass (email@example.com), April 12, 2002.
Wood chips work well for that sort of thing. I get mine free from the folks that clear the local power lines.
Another water control idea is to run the shed gutters into storage tanks, instead of letting them dump on the ground. I scrounged used gutters, so it didn't cost anything to set up other than coming up with decent tanks. (Those are secondhand, too, so they were cheap.) Attach float valve water bowls to the tank, and you've got a fairly reliable water source for your critters. My favorite bowl attaches with a short piece of hose, so I can tip it out and scrub it without too much fuss.
-- Connie (Connie@lunehaven.com), April 14, 2002.