Roughs aren’t just for golf

Dixie Crowe

 

The “lawn” area is pictured in the foreground. The horses have grazed it because it contains their desired forage.  Meanwhile, electric fencing has been run along the “rough” to contain the bachelor herd of the sheep that will eat it. Photo by Dixie Crowe.
The “lawn” area is pictured in the foreground. The horses have grazed it because it contains their desired forage. Meanwhile, electric fencing has been run along the “rough” to contain the bachelor herd of the sheep that will eat it. Photo by Dixie Crowe.

I’m living on a little farm now and the horses have grazed the main pasture area down, which I just found out is technically called a lawn and rough. The lawns are the short grazed areas and horses prefer them. Sort of like golf, the roughs are taller. However, they’re not made of beautiful manicured golf grass. Instead they’re filled with weeds and forage that horses consider undesirable. In my life, that would include vegetables like brussel sprouts.  Well, that’s not really what they’re leaving behind, but I would totally leave those behind if I were grazing and they grew in my pasture. I think you get the picture.

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Members of the bachelor herd eat the forage in the “rough.” Photo by Dixie Crowe.
Members of the bachelor herd eat the forage in the “rough.” Photo by Dixie Crowe.

If you live outside, you eat outside and you go to the bathroom outside, then you’re going to use the area you aren’t eating for your bathroom, right? Since these areas tend to fill up with manure, which can be a source of parasites that can then contaminate the pasture and then create a cycle of reinfection, it is important to keep roughs trimmed. It is also important to remove their waste weekly, but that’s beyond what I want to cover here. Instead of trimming the roughs with power equipment, you can use other animals that like the vegetation that grows there to keep that forage short– like passing your brussel sprouts under the table to your brother who loves them. My roommates have used electric wire fencing that is portable to contain the roughs to keep a small herd of eight bachelor sheep focused on these areas. I have watched them clear out the areas along the irrigation ditch in short order. Then I come home to find a different area has been fenced off.

Really, it’s a great system. Both the horses and sheep need to eat. They eat slightly different plants and we don’t have to clear the area using power equipment.   It’s peaceful, and of course it’s really fun to watch the sheep and horses using the land in different ways.

While the horses on the property found the forage in the “rough” undesirable, the sheep love it. Photo by Dixie Crowe.
While the horses on the property found the forage in the “rough” undesirable, the sheep love it. Photo by Dixie Crowe.