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OPEN COLUMN, Ashburton Guardian, Volume XXXIX, Issue 9604, 8 May 1919
This column, each Thursday, will be placed at the disposal of any reader who desires to contribute his. or her, views or experiences on any subject of public interest. Country readers are especially invited to respond.
A TALK ABOUT SHEEP-FEEDING
(By John Brown, Lowcliffe.)
"Whatever may be said in the-.follow-ing notes is the result of reading, backed up by personal experience, both on good light sheep country and on trood alluvial soil. It is not written with the idea of teaching others who probably have gained their knowledge in the same school of experience, but it is.meant to give my own views on the subject; and if the reading of it help 3 any to make a decision when they may be swithering what to do, or if it persuades others to give the result of their experience on different lines, then the writer will feel the writing of it has served some good purpose.
Most farmers in a big or small way have their flock of sheep to care and cater for. and they look 'ahead_ so that the sheep may have <& sufficiency of j food, as well as a minimum of discomfort. "During May. on normally stocked farms, there is usually enough of grass feed, and the ewes do well after tupping on this feed, even if it be not plentiful. In April, or early in May, I always endeavour to get in a field of oats, in anticipation of its use for the ewes in the spring. A stubble paddock may be ripped up and sown with oats as a catch crop. Then in October it" can be ploughed up again for swedes or turnips after the sheep have fed off the oats, and it will also have manured the ground. If the intention is to keep the oats as a crop, then the feeding off does no harm with either Duns or Algerians; indeed, the Dun is like Bordier wheat-—-feeding off is a necessity for increased crop. Much has been written about the relative merits of Aleerian and Dun oats. I do not wish to discuss these just now. I have crown both for sheep feed, and then keot them afterwards as a crop for seed. I have had most success with Duns. The Duns will stand two feedings in the spring arid then, even if a dry spell intervenes, the crop is usually one of the few^pleasant surprises, that the. farmer r^ets in such a season. On light sheep country I have no hesitation at all in saying that it is one of the most payable crops that can be grown.
Early in August the oat crop is usually ready to be fed, and as a hogget feed it ia excellent. The milk teeth of the hoggets are going at that time. and it is surprising how a month's feed on oats then will improve both tho condition and the wool. For ewes within 14 days of lambing, the oat crop is invaluable. An hour's grazing on the succulent feed, and a quiet bit. of exercise eoing to it," are sure cures for the deadly anti-partum paralysis disease. At the same time. I have found that the ewes lamb easier and have abundance of milk.
June. July, and August are the months when the turniping of sheep is carried on. An ordinary decent crop of Imperial Green Globe turnip will carry 250 ewes per acre per week, and a Champion swede crop will carry 350. On that "basis it can readily be calculated how long your turnips will last and into what sized breaks you need to fence so as to keep your sheep,' say, three weeks on each break. A shorter time on each is better, I know-;, but when there 'is plenty of other things to do there'is no necessity. At least once in three days the dry sheep should be given a run on grass, even if only for a night. That will keep them rieht. A good stack of straw in the turnip paddock is an excellent corrective to the watery turnip diet. Even good wheat £traw will be greedily eaten when so placed. A tussock run-off is a really fine one for those who have got it. On the years that I use my small tussock paddock as such, the ewes, eat the tussock grass- like hay, and do well on it. Ewes must have exercise, and a good run-out is necessary at all times. The ewe hoggets that I wish, to keep over the winter usually run on .ahead of the awsa.on another break. Ewes love a dry bed, so that when the runoff is not alongside I take them off the turnips every night and drive them to a dry paddock. In that way I can catch the ewes that get dried mud between the toes and take out the ballj so saving the lameness and foot-rot caused by it.
Of many turnips tried on the Ranpitata Plains, the Imperial Green Globe was easily the best. It is a good turnip both' for hoggets and grown sheep, and la-sts well into September, if sown about the end of the year. On better land the best soft turnip I have grown for early .lamb feed is the Purple-Top Mammoth—but it must be eaten at the right .stage, viz., before it becomes soft and fuzzy inside. On alluvial soils 1 near the sea line nothing has done better with me than the Champion Swede, sown in October. It must be sown then in order'to get a bulb of sufficient size to resist the ravages of the -aphis, blight and the diamond-back moth. 'These pests come- in Jaiiuary. If the bulbs are the size of cups'or bigger this swede will still remain sound into Sept-ember when sown on the flat in rows 14 inches apart, even if the tops are completely destroyed. When I see ' that the blight is going to be bad, I put some old ewes on to trim off the leaves. I am quite aware that some fanners have no time for the swede on account of the blights, but I am positive that if the, Champion is sown in October on clean alluvial soils, with 90 pounds of superphosphate per acre, that there is nothing in the turnip line that can touch it for quantity and feeding quality. On the sea-board the .ordin" ■ary turnip in dry seasons is attacked so early by the blights that it becomes woody. If I can get the ground ready in time, I now grow nothing else but the Champion Swede, and that is from eight years .experience of it. A vsmall block of mangels is a useful stand-by. The mangels bridge over the time between the end of the turnip season and the early spring grass. Thrown out on the grass paddock to ewes that have lambed, they are excellent for- milk producing. It used to be contended that the Globe varieties .were the best because they contained more sugar than the Long Red variety, but when quantity as well as quality was taken . into consideration, the latter came out on top. A good deal, of course, depends on tlie depth of the soil which variety to grow. Personally I like the Long" Red. All-classes.-of stock relish it.
I Mr Lowrie, late Director of 'Lincoln [College, a ripe scholar and a first-class
farmer and .stock-breeder, had a great idea of Italian ryegrass sown with Cowgrass in March, as a spring feed for ewes and lambs. It came away early in the spring before the other grasses had got on their legs, and the sheep did splendidly on it, with no Lasses such as sometimes happens on oats when fed in too great quantity. I find that Cocksfoot does not come away with me in the spring as quickly as Perennial ryegrass, and young lambs do not do so well on the old 00-cksfoot paddock as on the ryegrass one. Outside of these advantages, I cannot say I am particularly keen on my ryegrass fields. Ryegrnss runs to seed too quickly to give as much feed a^s it should, and in a dry season its shallow rooting system >liays it open to a bad check. Indeed this auumn during the dry weather the ryeirrnss absolutely withered*, away while the cocksfoot and red clover kept creen and •supplied a nice quantity of pheep fped. As an autumn grass I consider cocksfoot is far and away the better. If given a decent start it is a useful fattening feed for o7d ewes. Tn a fatter I had lately from Dr. HilgendorfP, he mentions that Perennial ryegrass. in a recent American agricultural book, was fictunllv classified as a weed grass. Canterbury farmers..would hardly so classify it, but it shows the poor opinion that American author had of it. . . ■- ' '
In the foregoing lines I have touched on some of the foods for breeding sheep stretching from April to October. Much more could be said.' I have purposely introduced a subject that I know is of interest to many, and on which there is some diversity of opinion, such differences arising probably through farming on different classes ot soils and on other lines. I have often wished to get the benefit of other fanners' opinions on farm subjects,' and once suggested to our A. and P. Association that some of our most successful County farmers should be asked to give ten minute talks on every-day farm work and crops at some of their meetings. These men may be diffident about lecturing, but some of those talks would help many of us younger farmers who are always seeking for information. If at the end of these talks a general discussion were allowed then I am sure, if carried out in a tolerant spirit, that much good would come of it. .1 earnestly hooe that some will follow this lead. The subject of "Sheep Management" alone .should give scope for a dozen articles. Think it over, you Ashburton County, farmers, and decide to give, out of the fullness of your stores of information, some little to those whom it may help!
OPEN COLUMN, Ashburton Guardian, Volume XXXIX, Issue 9604, 8 May 1919
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