New to the Farm: Grazing Sheep
New to the Farm: Grazing Sheep
We’ve Introduced a Flock of Grazing Sheep to our Devon Farm
Last month we introduced a flock of Moorland sheep to graze on our organic pasture in a new land management system. Currently, we utilise our lovely herd of Aberdeen Angus heritage cattle in a rotational grazing method, keeping our pastures healthy and soil fertile (not to mention keeping our cattle happy too). Our new mixed grazing system will work alongside the rotational grazing, combining the eating habits of both our Aberdeen Angus and grazing sheep in an effective and organic land management method.
Our Grazing Methods
At the Eversfield Organic Farm in Devon, we already implement a rotational grazing system for our Aberdeen Angus cattle. This sees the cattle moved from field to field to allow the ground to breathe and rest, plus it curbs some of our inquisitive herd’s curiosity. By allowing the soil and pasture some breathing room, we can grow more and better grass (which we’re also sure our cattle are happy about, as they spend their time munching on it). It also keeps the soil quality high and a healthy amount of nutrients in the ground.
As organic farmers, we ensure everything we do on the farm is completed in the most natural way possible. We see grazing as the most organic way to maintain our land, keeping our pasture and soil healthy as well as boosting wildlife. We’re always looking for different ways to farm in the most natural yet effective way possible, and introducing grazing sheep presents many advantages.
With our rotational grazing, sometimes referred to as mob grazing, system in full swing, you may be wondering why we’re also introducing mixed grazing. Well, although they have a similar diet, grazing animals actually have quite different eating habits. Sheep are more of a fussy eater than cattle, grazing closer to the root and getting parts of the grass that cattle can’t reach. Cattle, however, will munch on pretty much anything, including the hardier, weed-like pasture.
Their differing diets are mostly down to the way in which they graze and consume the grass. Cattle use their tongues to wrap around the pasture, pulling and ripping it up. Sheep on the other hand, use their teeth to nibble or cut the grass, leaving a consistent height across the field. The combination of these grazing techniques leave a productive soil and pasture, aiding its structure and creating an ideal habitat for a wide range of wildlife.
A Healthy Diet
As well as the benefits of allowing our livestock to graze on pasture for our soil, it’s also beneficial to the animals themselves. Sheep and cattle are naturally designed to digest grass. Their ruminant digestive systems, comprised of a four-part stomach, are perfectly created to digest pasture, not the grain that many livestock are fed on “traditional” farms.
We’re proud to work with the Pasture for Life Association (PFLA), who champion the virtues of pastoral farming. They aim to unite meat producers across the UK to create high quality food in a more natural way. PFLA farmers allow their livestock to graze pasture for as long as possible throughout the year and feed them preserved pasture throughout the winter.
Whilst we do have a selection of PFLA certified grass fed, organic beef and lamb, all of our beef and lamb is 100% grass fed and finished for life too. Ensuring our organic lamb and beef is grass fed and finished results in a healthy layer of fat marbling on the final cut. This presents an organic meat that has a higher level of omega-3 fatty acids – a fat that is better for human health. Organic, grass fed meat offers a meatier, fuller taste and softer, tender texture.
We believe you can really taste the difference our natural farming methods are making in the final product. Try for yourself by adding your favourite cut of grass fed, organic meat to your next online grocery delivery.
- Libby Long