Monday, July 6, 2009

Hay time...

This is the time of year to fill the barn with hay. I scan the want ads, looking for hay. I call up my local suppliers, to see what is available. We have a big barn, and I am happiest when it is full of hay, all types of hay. Grass hay, alfalfa hay, waterway hay, straw, etc. With our Icelandic sheep, we don't generally need (or want) high quality/high protein hay. These sheep were brought to Iceland by the Vikings, bred for thousands of years in a harsh environment...therefore, have become quite efficient herbivores. As a response to this environment, Icelandic sheep have developed a large and proficient rumen. They do well on what most consider poor hay. Even during gestation. Rich hay = difficult lambing, pizzle rot, and numerous other problems. Of course there are times when the sheep/lambs could use that extra nutrition. Times of heavy lactation, especially when there are twins and triplets involved. Lambs during weaning time, or sheep going to the fair. Often times, it feels like I'm walking a tight rope, trying to balance the feed requirements of my flock. Experience is the best teacher. Every year is different, but each year also gives many valuable lessons. Some good, some happy, some painful. It's always a learning experience. I am constantly tweaking my mineral rations. Sometimes adding protein blocks... always looking for that perfect balance! Small bales are easiest on my back, so I like those... Big round bales are easier on my husband's back, so he likes those...It's all a balancing act...Teenagers just think it's an excuse to goof off!

2 comments:

tonya fedders said...

Glad to see that your hay supply is secured in the barn! We've put up our first round of hay here and doesn't look like it will be long before it's time to cut again! We feed some orchard grass, and just grass hay for the most part - I didn't have much wool growth at all this winter, and thought maybe it was the hay? (i didn't have the nutritional value checked, but it appeared to be good hay, good color) Did your wool do well this past winter on grass hay? I had read somewhere that the grass hadn't recovered (nutritionally) from the severe drought that we had the year prior to last,here in this area, and didn't know if that could be part of it? I put out a protein block late in the season.. but it was too late in the season to make a difference. (i was concerned about having the protein blocks around the rams from what I've read about the protein levels- then, a few days later, suddenly lost a ram) .. It's a learning process for sure. Just wanted to ask if you had any issues with the winter wool growth last year?

kenleighacres said...

I love it when the barn is full of hay too! I also have the daily questions of what to feed, how much, are they all getting what they - or are they getting too much?