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Wednesday, June 6, 2012

How to move a Flerd

That's right, a flerd!  Our combination of goat/cow herd and sheep flock.  About 4:30 every afternoon, there's a stirring in the pasture.

The flerd knows it's time to move.  We move them every day to fresh grass.  This allows them to eat the best of the forage, escape from any parasites they might have and to treat the soil with trampled grass and their "fertilizer".

The first step is to get the weed eater.  Rest assured, that when the weed eater is in actual operation, the children are far away!

Hubby cuts a path where the new paddock will be.  Our paddocks are 50 feet x 50 feet and Hubby just steps off the next section.

This small path is where the electric netting will be placed and by cutting down the tall grass, we are reducing the load on the fence.  The heavier the load, the less electricity is passed through the fence.  We want a lot of spark in that fence!

This is where they were yesterday.  They've eaten the top 1/3 of the grass (where the energy is) and most of the weeds.  The weeds provide micronutrients and other beneficial things to their diet, we want a polyculture, NOT a monoculture out there in the pasture.

This is where they are moving to today.  For those people who buy sheep and goats as lawn mowers, they are really doing these animals a disservice.  Forcing them to "mow" the forage down to the ground is not allowing them to eat what they want and then move on.

 Two of our Katahdin lambs and looking at the greener grass on the other side!

We use 50 foot electric poultry netting from Premier.  We have modified them by clipping the bottom two hot wire so there isn't as much of a load from the grass on the bottom of the fence.

These are the fences that we will be moving to set up the next paddock.  We have 7 fences that make up our fencing unit.

We use the 50 footers as they are easy for one person to gather up and set back down.  The 100 footers got to be a bit too heavy and cumbersome.

We put the charger, water tank and mineral feeder on the edge of one paddock so we can fence around it the next day.  Then we only have to move them every two days.

Setting out the fence is very easy.

Use your trusty rubber boot to make the bottom of the fence taut with the previous post.

Then step it in!  These posts have a double spike on the end.  It's so easy, Kiddo1 who is 4 can do it!

Now that the new paddock is set up, it's time to move.  The goats usually lead the way, because they are bossy...and smart.

Hubby pulls back just one section of fence in the corner.

The flerd is on the move!  They know that fresh grass awaits them on the other side.  

The last ones through are the new heifer calf, Karlek (because she is fairly new to moves) and the Icelandic ewe with the young lamb (because she is very protective of him and he takes his time).

That's it!  Only takes about 15 seconds.  As Hubby says, "If you turn your back, you miss it!"

The lambs jumped up on a pile of old hay to jump and play.

Hubby ties the fences with the provided nylon cord to make it "flerd proof".

And the flerd puts their heads down and starts eating.  And groaning with delight.  Really, there is groaning and eyes closing in bliss.

These are two of our Icelandic ewes:  Naomi on the left and Ruth in the middle.

The number one reason we hear for people not rotationally grazing their animals is that it takes too much time.  All told, if Hubby does the pasture move by himself it takes him 30 min from leave the house to back in the house.  And if I help, probably 15 minutes.  These few minutes a day are a great way to check the flerd health, get to know our animals and above all give our animals the best possible forage and take care of the soil!

If you have questions about rotational grazing, feel free to post them in the comments and I can certainly talk more about it!


  1. Very cool! I always wondered how you moved the animals around. That looks pretty slick. I bet they just LOVE the fresh grass!! Anna

  2. Thanks so much for this post. I am wanting to learn how to do this for the future and this was so practical, step by step, with all of the important details included. Wonderful!

  3. Great pictures. Thanks for all the detail they provide. I've had a look at Premier's "how to" video done on perfect sward with no animals and wondered how it works in real life. It's good to know about your preference for the 50 ft lengths because of course I was thinking one continuous piece would be easier, never considered the weight. Interesting about clipping the bottom wires, also about weedeating where the fence goes next. I've seen your posts about training the pigs to the wire (lol), did you have to train the "flerd" too?

    1. We kept the Icelandics together in one group for the first 5 days or so. And we also kept the goats and Katahdins together. The first day all of them tried it with their wet noses and learned quickly. The doe we milk now routinely tries the fence, she's a bit of an optimist or a slow learner...I'm not sure which. We added the heifer to the group and she tried it twice. We did not have to put a hard fence behind them because they would always back up when shocked. Pigs do not!!

  4. I am really looking forward to this learning journey and I hope to share what I learnt with you all and look forward to working with you all.
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