Help Answer These Questions From On Pasture Readers

One of the good things about the On Pasture community is since there are so many of you, there’s probably someone out there who has the same problem you have. Even better, they may have already found a solution! So this week, we’re celebrating our well-read, very smart Community by sharing some reader questions we’ve gotten and asking for your help finding solutions. Feel free to share your thoughts in the comment section. If you have questions of your own, please send them to us in an email and we’ll share them in future editions of “On Pasture Readers Have Questions.”

Question 1:

Andy rents a couple of small farms, but there are no facilities for his hair sheep. He wonders if there are any good ideas out there for an affordable, portable corral system. Ideally, it would be something you could store in or on your livestock trailer. Any suggestions?

Question 2:

How do you find a mentor?

Some organizations build mentoring into what they do, like the North Dakota Grazing Lands Coalition, and the Maryland Grazers Network. Some folks build their mentoring group as described here by Chip Hines in “Intelligent Groups Make Innovations Easier.”

What are your tips for finding a mentor? What makes for a good mentor relationship? Would you be willing to be a mentor?

If you have a question for your On Pasture Community, do send it on! We’d like questions and answers from readers to be a regular feature.


8 thoughts on “Help Answer These Questions From On Pasture Readers

  1. A reader sent us an email in response to Question 1.

    I have had good success with the panel system from Prattley, it’s from New Zealand, so it takes a while to get to the states and is a bit pricey, but it works so well, is a breeze to set up and has endless variations.
    Link here:


  2. Do check with your County Agent and with your local NRCS. Each NRCS district has a grass specialist and, at least in our area, promotes pasture walks where mentors and mentored can connect.

  3. For Question 2:
    We are lucky enough to live in Maryland and when we went to our local usda soil conservation office for cost share possibilities when starting up, they referred us to the Chesapeake Bay Maryland Grazers Network where we were hooked up with an amazing mentor. He helped us pick the right pasture mixes for our climate and animal needs, helped us plan permanent and temporary fencing, and hosted us several times for tours of his farm as well as several others. It was an invaluable program that helped us tremendously!! Looking forward to giving back as a mentor ourselves in the future!

  4. We use a bud Box corral system with our sheep – we operate entirely on leased land and so need to move the corrals regularly. The box itself is 8’x10′ (made with homemade 36″-high wood panels. The working alley 20′ long (2 10′ panels) held up with t-posts. We use wire or paracord to secure the panels – baling twine is a sin since we run wool sheep. At the end of the alley, we have a 3-way homemade sort gate. The big holding pen (where we bring sheep in) is made from 39″ high wire stock panels and t-posts. The holding pens for sorting are smaller – one is made from wire panels, the other (larger) pen can be made from electro-net.

    With a good dog, one person can sort 150 ewes with lambs in this set up in 30-40 minutes.

  5. As others have said, T posts and cattle panels can work well and baling wire or tarp straps to fasten to T posts. Although you can make a chute out of panels, I would prefer to build a portable chute out of plywood-16 ft long and elevated so you don’t have to bend your back to work on animals. Chute could be narrower at bottom than top and 12″ off the ground, about 40″ high, sliding gate in front, bud box to load chute with swinging chute gate. Search internet for ideas and visit with several producers to see their facilities. Betsy Hodge at Cornell would be a good source of information.

  6. For question 1: I have a neighbor that uses hog panels and t-posts for a corral. He holds it together with baling twine. Seems to work pretty well for his goats. You can bend the panels to create sweeping lanes/chutes as well. For gates he uses small cut sections of the paneling with the twine as a hinge – you just have to make the gate slightly larger than the opening and slant it in the direction they are headed to (so once it is closed and they try to go back the way they came it will wedge in the lane). This should fit on a trailer easily.

  7. For question 1:
    I have a neighbor that uses cut down cattle panels and t-posts for a corral system for his goats. He puts it together with baling twine. For gates he uses pieces of the panels as well. If you have small lambs you could use hog panels instead with the tighter spacing. The panels seem to work well as you can bend them to create curved chutes as needed. This would store easily on a trailer.

  8. I am interested as well in Question 1. Please send all ideas on portable sheep corrals. I have come across Sydell here in the states and a New Zealand version that is on a trailer. Expensive though. Thanks.

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