Ideal Paddock

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Ideal Paddock

Post  r.cox on Mon Sep 20, 2010 11:09 pm

Before I acquired llamas to graze my land I over seeded it with Sutton's specialist camalid seed mix and in the growing season, I regularly cut the longer grass (mainly the midens) with a flail mower (that also scarifies). In the dormant season I chain harrow (to remove moss/thatch), spike (to improve drainage), fertilize (for root as opposed to top growth) and biannually lime (mainly to cleanse the land of parasites etc.).
I have recently acquired access to some more but for some time neglected land. It is full of weeds, primarily Mayor's Tail, docks, nettles, plantain, dandelions and wild horizontally spreading grasses (as opposed to cultivated forms). I am torn about what to do. I read in an edition of Llama Link advice by a llama breeder to apply chemical fertilizer to kill off the weeds and other broad leaved plants in the meadow. I later read that many weeds offer more nutriment in the form of minerals and vitamins that grass and so should be encouraged in the llama pasture, especially into the winter when the foot store had been reserved in the roots..
What do others say is the best preparation? Specialist herbs, no broadleaves, short/long grass, fertilizer/no fertilizer, etc?

r.cox

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Re: Ideal Paddock

Post  mlonghurst on Tue Sep 21, 2010 6:51 pm

My personal advice would be leaving it just as it is. Llamas are browsers and not just grazers and enjoy and need variety in their feed. We have just put 9 llamas in fields which have not been grazed for 5 years and are totally overgrown (many of the thistles and nettles are over 2 mtrs high).

The llamas absolutely love it and roam all over the pasture selecting different things to eat, some grass, a bit of thistle, some tree leaves, a patch of nettles, some fallen apples etc. They have already made great inroads into the brambles, nettles (they particularly like those) and thistles. We get a lot of local farmers passing by and they are amazed at the difference that the llamas are making to the land.

Regards, Mike L


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Re: Ideal Paddock

Post  Tim on Thu Nov 25, 2010 6:53 pm

I used to fertilise and manage the grass very much as you have been doing. However I recently had an assessment by Hampshire Wildlife Trust on grassland management for horses and similar close grazers such as llamas. They said that the animals would benefit from the wider variety of plants in a "weed" infested paddock so I agree with Mike. The llamas readily eat thistles, nettles and most of the other species except buttercups. Our horses do the same.We remove ragwort of course.

I spot spray against docks, which none of them will touch, and the worst of the thistles. No more fertiliser now since this encourages the grass at the expense of the wild flowers. They also said that pasture especially grown for cattle which is rich in rye grass and contains few weeds is actually bad for horses and llamas since it is too rich and does not contain the spread of plants that these animals need.

Hope this helps!



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