How to avoid these three common pasture mistakes


Learn from the mistakes of long-time block owners and use their lessons to your advantage.

Words: Pattie Pegler & Nadene Hall

Pasture management and livestock are particularly challenging for new lifestyle block owners, says North Canterbury block contractor Jeremy Roberts. He says two common mistakes are underestimating the amount of work involved with livestock such as sheep, and wasting money rushing into new projects.

1. Rushing into things

The best thing is to bide your time, says Jeremy. “The top piece of advice I would offer is don’t rush in. Sit back and see what happens over the year before you start getting paddocks sprayed and new grass sown.”

Consider the land: is it dry, stony, boggy? The type of soil can make a big difference to what you can grow and what livestock may be suitable.

2. Overstocking

Too many stock is another common error. People see swathes of grass come away in spring and early summer and buy livestock, often at a premium. But a dry summer can leave them short.

“Then they find there isn’t enough grass,” says Jeremy. “If a property is overstocked with sheep, it can become worm burdened, and there can also be high levels of flystrike.”

Talk to your neighbours (or if you can, the previous owners) to get an idea of how many stock a property can carry through the seasons. Ideally, the maximum number is how many you can feed through winter. It’s always better to be slightly understocked than overstocked.

3. Choosing the wrong pasture

Talk to a contractor about grass types and what type of stock you’re planning to graze. Jeremy says in his area, a lot of people like the idea of lucerne but find it very costly.

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He recommends Italian ryegrass, but warns it can cause ryegrass staggers in sheep and cattle. Look for different pasture varieties designed to suit cattle, sheep, horses, goats, poultry, and alpaca.

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Reader story: 3 lessons from a first-time lifestyle block owner

NZ Lifestyle Block This article first appeared in NZ Lifestyle Block Magazine.
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