How can I determine how many days my stockpiled winter pasture will feed my sheep?
Answer: For starters, I recommend that you view Chapter 2 of the ATTRA intensive grazing video Intensive Grazing: One Farm’s Set-Up. This video talks about the circumference of the hoop (in this case, 67 inches) and also gives the formula for figuring out the dry-matter yield per acre. The scale used in the video is a simple 300-gram, hand-held spring scale with a clip. These scales are widely available online.You can view the video at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XXRgIhUicJk&index=2&list=PLDu0ElBiEy9w4vhL87vWjzCtyazcvPYGxI would take several representative hoops from your 40-acre pasture at the end of the growing season, after you have a few killing frosts. Average out the pounds of dry matter. Plan on just grazing 70% of it and on 10 to 20 percent of the dry matter being lost by February. So, let’s say you have determined that you have 3,000 pounds of dry matter by October 1.3,000 pounds/acre X 30% residual left X 80% available = 1,680 pounds of dry matter per acre1,680 pounds per acre X 40 acres = 67,200 pounds of forage dry matter67,200 pounds of dry matter 150 ewes 5 pounds per ewe per day intake = 89.6 daysSo, you can safely figure that you have three months of stockpiled forage in your 40-acre field for 150 dry ewes. If you put them out in the field October 15, this stockpile would last until January 15, at which time you would need to put them on a higher plane of nutrition if you are lambing March 1. Remember, too, it is better to break up your winter pasture into three-day paddocks if you can. This will eliminate any need for additional protein fed to the ewes. If you cannot do three-day paddocks, try seven-day paddocks.