Mares eat oats
November 11, 2012, 12:06 pm
Filed under: November 2012

Volunteer oats by the chicken house

                                              November 11, 2012

     Many times in the late summer or early fall, I plant oats for early winter grazing for the sheep. Yes, mares eat oats, but they prefer the harvested ripened grain from the plant. The sheep like the broad-leafed forbes and especially the milky grain that sometimes heads out before the frost kills the plant.

     I spilled some oats on the ground by the chicken house. The oats were covered with an old round bale of hay scattered to help soak up the mud. The oats sprouted and grew to some very nice forage. It is just a small area where nothing can reach it. I cut them and threw them over the fence to the chickens. They are loving them.

     Fall planted oats will give my flock of sheep almost another month of grazing before I have to feed hay. The effort required to plant them is almost nothing. I just broadcast them on bare ground, roll over them with a cultipacker and that is it. The oats sprout and grow giving me an awesome amount of food per acre for dang near free.

     When I plant them I use oats right out of my bin. I am not trying to get a great crop of grain, so certified seed is not necessary. The plants grow lush and big. The sheep act as if I have given them candy, but the high protein oats signal the ewes that good times are ahead. The ewes then release more eggs for breeding. This process is called “flushing”. There are some who don’t believe it, but I generally get a 200% plus lamb crop, so I am a believer 😮

     Mares eat oats, does eat oats and little lambs eat ivy … or so the song goes… All I know is, that late planted oats, in this part of the country, is just one more way to make a small farm profitable…. and profit for a small farmer is NOT a dirty word!


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