Finding land

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Finding land
« on: December 08, 2014, 21:05 »
Have any of you successfully found and rented smallish plots of land to keep your animals on?

I ask because we have the chickens and ducks on our own land but we're just half an acre including the house and barn, so not sufficient grassy land space for anything else so want to find somewhere to put some meat birds and sheep, not many, perhaps 4. We've wanted to for so long, but after seeing friends who have now got sheep has made us even more determined.

We are surrounded by fields, primarily arable, but there is a field across the road from us that is normally used for beef cattle in the summer and stands empty through the winter months.

Have any of you approached a farmer directly to see whether they would rent some land. If you did, what kind of rules regarding structures came up and land useage etc.

I'm probably pretty green to all this, but would it be of a concern to a beef farmer if I were to put, say pigs, or sheep on a portion of his land through the months he didn't use it? I'm thinking disease and all the nasty bits? Would he let me put up a shelter?

I guess pigs would destroy the field so there is that to consider, but sheep might not.

Suppose i'm musing allowed really, but if anyone has had any experience of this, positive or negative and can let me know some questions I might need to have answers to or things I should know before I pursue this any further, I'd be really grateful.



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Re: Finding land
« Reply #1 on: December 09, 2014, 00:24 »
I can give you a bit of info from the other side. We let out some of our fields to a local sheep farmer, about 3 acres. It's a nominal rent of 50 an acre but he is supposed to maintain the dry stone walls. Our land is marginal - good quality pasture would be a lot more.
For some legal reason it is important not to let the land for more than 364 days in a run.
A farmer will be concerned about a hobbyist - will you look after your livestock or land him with a problem. Do you understand bio-security. His cattle are very expensive stock and any reasonable rent is nothing to the value of a cow.
Do you understand land management - it's a bit of an art grazing properly, knowing when to take them off the land and allow it to recover.
Having said all that, it does no harm to ask and the worse that can happen is he says no. Incidentally, half an acre would possibly allow one ewe but what about raising geese? You just need to think of grass as a crop and how to use it.
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Kate and her Ducks

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Re: Finding land
« Reply #2 on: December 19, 2014, 19:07 »

First, what do you want the sheep for? I know it sounds like an obvious question but makes a huge difference if you want a few lawn mowers for the summer, lambs for the freezer or pets.

As John says, there is no harm is asking but suspect the answer will be no. Cattle farmers keep their stock off the ground in winter as with the wet the cattle destroy (poach in grazing terms) the ground and there is very little nutritional value in the grass. The break protects the ground and allows it to recover for next year. Although sheep and cattle have different parasites and the change can actually help relieve the worm burden I suspect that the farmer would like the break for the sake of the ground.

More pressingly, if he does say yes and the ground is up to even sheep in the winter (I have to feed mine even though there is grass) what are you going to do the rest of the year when he wants the field back for his cattle? This is when your ewes need good grazing to produce milk for their lambs and you need extra grass to feed up the weaned lambs and fatten them up for the autumn. Ultimately you really need the ground during the good parts of the year!

If you are going to rent you really need to find land that people are not using at any other point of the year. As John says most contracts are for 364 days. Basically if you are tenant for a full year you gain a lot of rights (can't be specific) making it very difficult for the owner to get you off the land so it is accepted than you stay for 364 days, move your stock off for a day and then return.

Be like a duck. Calm on the surface but always paddling like the dickens underneath.


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