One thing we have come across since owning sheep is the old saying that 'sheep should not be left in the same field long enough to hear the church bell ring twice'. Our neighbour has reminded us of it a couple of times when we have left our sheep in the same paddock for longer than that!
This traditional farming practice of frequently moving grazing livestock not only serves the sheep well but also benefits the land. Our sheep are getting used to seeing us and being handled by us so it is easier to spot and treat any problems. Short-term grazing does not decimate the grass and plants so they can recover and re-grow more quickly, which, in turn, supports a more diverse wildlife. The soil is less trampled, manure distributed more evenly and worms kept at bay. Our sheep are a traditional Welsh Hill breed and this practice suits them well so we are keen to follow it.
We have three paddocks close to the house and two fields a little further down the lane. Moving our six sheep between the paddocks has been relatively easy, even for us inexperienced shepherds! We have enough gates we can close and only a short drive for the sheep to negotiate to get to the different paddocks. Moving them to the bigger fields down the lane is more tricky!! Especially with just the two of us. We have enlisted the help of visitors on occasion to make the task easier. We also have acquired a supply of sheep hurdles to put across the lane to stop our six ewes from disappearing off! We have even used cars to do the same job!
We hope that the more often we move the sheep, the more they will get to know the way to the various fields and guiding them to their new munching places will become easier on us! Learning from our mistakes, we are becoming more experienced at managing the moves and our sheep are keen to follow a bucket of feed!
Here we are, moving our little flock up the lane back to one of the paddocks near the house, where they will be for the next few weeks.