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Leeds farmers receives Ontario Sheep Pasture Award

Brad and Karen Davis of Black Kreek Ranch in the Lansdowne area of Thousand Islands Township in Leeds County are the recipient of the 2021 Ontario Sheep Pasture Award.

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Brad and Karen Davis of Black Kreek Ranch in the Lansdowne area of Thousand Islands Township in Leeds County are the recipient of the 2021 Ontario Sheep Pasture Award. The award sponsored by MAPLESEED, the Ontario Forage Council and the Ontario Sheep Farmers, was presented virtually today at the Ontario Sheep Convention. For their environmental and pasture improvements and management, the recipients will receive $250 and a bag of forage seed.

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The sheep operation includes 950 ewes and are rotationally grazed, which is the main source of feed for 6 to 7 months of the year. The flock is moved every 7 to 21 days, depending on the time of year and growing conditions. The Davis’s aim for a 30- to 40-day rest period between grazing’s, and paddocks are grazed anywhere from 3-5 times per year. The entire farm is hard fenced into 15-20 acre paddocks, and Brad & Karen use portable electric net fencing to split them during certain times of the year.

Fresh water is considered an essential to a healthy flock, so an above ground water pipe (approx. 5000 ft) is provided throughout the entire farm to get water to each paddock.

Grass seed species vary across the entire farm. Species include timothy, reed canary, brome, fescue, red clover, alfalfa, trefoil and ladino clover. All paddocks are clipped off following the 1st grazing and sometime the 2nd grazing to chop down any headed-out or mature grass stalks.

As Brad comments, “Most years, we feed hay for 2-3 weeks in the fall to let pastures rest and then graze a final time before breeding to flush the ewes.

Most pastures on Black Kreek Ranch have trees for shade, however this is becoming a bigger issue with our elm and ash trees dying off. Karen comments, “They are planning to transplant a couple hundred trees over the next 2 years to try and provide more shade for hot summer conditions.

Scott Fisher, Sales Manager (Western Ontario) with MAPLESEED says, “The Davis’s run a wonderful, progressive operation, with good attention to detail.”

Ray Robertson, Manager of the Ontario Forage Council says, “This year’s Ontario Sheep Pasture Award recipient has demonstrated their ability to utilize forages on their farm and utilized the concept of rotational grazing to its maximum.”

The deadline for applications for the 2022 Ontario Sheep Pasture Award is October 1, 2022. For details, call the Ontario Forage Council at 1-877-892-8663 or visit either the Ontario Forage Council’s website or Ontario Sheep Farmers’ website at www.OntarioSheep.org .

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