Money for grazing

bill7(NW MN)April 21, 2009

We have about 2-3 acres of field that a local University wants to use for grazing sheep (20-30 of 'em). It would be from May-Sept, as the sheep are housed through the Winter. We let them do it for free last year, to see if it was something we liked. We are close to the U. so the transportation cost is lower, and they can have students come out to check. We live on 7 acres now.

Things to consider:

1. My wife works there.

2. We are not trying to make money, just want to cover costs.

3. Fencing needs to be fixed/fixed. The sheep got out 6 times last season. As much as it brings back memories of my childhood, chasing sheep now seems to be a chore!

4. We have a yard hydrant out by the field they use to fill the water buckets (our well being used).

The big question:

What should it be worth to them? They want to know if they put up fences (lots of cost and labor) they get to graze for a while (years). We are just trying to figure out what is fair. I figure a GOOD fence all the way around for 5 years of grazing?

Some ideas would help!!!


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If both parties agree that is fair and you don't have a use for the area for the number of years, then that would work.

Otherwise, you could figure out how much the fencing is going to cost (materials and labor) and divide it by the number of years. You or they might actually be getting the better part of the deal.


Here is a link that might be useful: MY BLOG

    Bookmark   April 21, 2009 at 9:34AM
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Don't forget periodic fertilizer, weed control, and reseeding as necessary. Possibly some type of liability insurance carried by the university also. No good deed goes unpunished.

Good Luck,


    Bookmark   April 22, 2009 at 3:54AM
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bill7(NW MN)

I was wondering about insurance, especially with all the crops around us. I suppose 25 sheep could do some real damage if they wanted to. Last year there were sugar beets, and the sheep didn't seem to care.

Ramona: That is what I was thinking of doing, but they will actually put up the fence. I just do not know what a "fair" number of years would be.

We do not use that area for anything right now, and the sheep actually kept the thistle at bay, so I didn't have to spray or figure out how to mow it. A real win for me.

I suppose I'll just ask them how many years they want and go from there.

Thanks for he input.

    Bookmark   April 22, 2009 at 6:47AM
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One thing I would be worried about is that you said It is your well they use to water their sheep - what if it runs dry? Who would foot the bill for having your well re-drilled? That could be very expensive. Is this the same well that services your home use? Who feeds the sheep - besides them grazing and who stores it? Have you checked around your area to find out what pastures rent for? That might help you decide what a fair cost would be.

Just a couple of thoughts I had.

    Bookmark   April 22, 2009 at 7:35AM
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Wow, I think what you did last year is fantastic. The students learning on these sheep are the future farmers, vets, or what have you. What a great contribution & opportunity to contribute to future generations!

I don't know what a fair price would be. I do have some thoughts on the subject though for you to think about.

I would have anyone visiting sign a release form. I would consider the water source also as someone stated.

Fencing isn't cheap, and it's hard work. If they are willing to fence it, I would let them. with 7 acres if you aren't into livestock perhaps with fencing you could be, plus it'll add value to your property.

Sheep, to the best of my knowledge, eat grass down to the roots. You will probably need to re-seed the pastures at some point or maybe even every year. On the other hand they may very well clear your pastures of noxious weeds in preperation for another species, say horses or what have you. (not sure what sheep eat, but goats do a great job of clearing weeds, but wont get them all).

I would price a bale of hay for your area, and given a bale will last 1 sheep 5-7 days depending on the breed, you could figure out how much they are saving by using your pasture. Then you could work out a deal that is mutually beneficial to both parties, knowing the value to them will help.
Maybe fencing plus paying for seed, over the extended period you are willing to accept your visitors. In the meantime your fields are kept grazed, are not a fire hazard, and will be getting fertilized to some extent.

Would I do it for free? Probably not. Taxes alone here for 5 acres is $4000+ a year.


    Bookmark   April 22, 2009 at 5:35PM
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Personally I would take the fence, make an agreement that they have to maintain the area (reseeding or what have you) and ask them for a receipt to write off land rental off on my taxes. If it is a non-profit college you could probably write off a good bit of money and for me personally, that would be a better deal. As long as you do not have to pay any out of pocket expenses. And it will make you feel really good that you have helped future farmers or vets or whatever...

    Bookmark   April 22, 2009 at 8:06PM
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bill7(NW MN)


That is what I was thinking. I hadn't even thought of the tax benefits, or reseeding. I do benefit a great deal by the grazing, as the sheep do eat pretty much everything. They might need to bring in hay at some point. But, with the reseeding, etc, it does become a good project for the future farmers. It is an ag school, by the way.

I guess what I really want is to not have to chase animals too often.

Thanks for all the input!


    Bookmark   April 23, 2009 at 7:24AM
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only reason I thought of the tax write off is because its that time of year. LOL

Sounds like this can be a win win situation!

    Bookmark   April 23, 2009 at 6:50PM
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Beeone(4 N. Wyo.)

Reseeding should only be an issue if the pasture is being severely overgrazed unless you are growing more specialized forages with short life spans. No responsible livestock producer will engage in that practice because it reduces productivity of the animals and reduces future productivity and increase costs of the pasture. Short term overgrazing may be necessary due to drought or other causes, but adequate rest and recovery is then needed to restore the pasture. Of course, if this is just a short term arrangement, overgrazing can be attractive because there is no long term concern for the property by the grazier. Pasture productivity is generally improved if it can be reduced into several smaller sections so that one area is grazed, then given a good, long rest (a month or more) before being grazed again. You may need to add some fertilizer periodically, though, and should make that clear to the university that it will be their responsibility, as will losses to predators and efforts to prevent them.

To look at a fair rate, check out the U. of Minn. ag extension web site and look for a publication on custom rates. It should have ranges and average rates for pasture rentals, which will give you a good basis for assessing how much the pasture should be worth. If they don't have the publication in Minn., surrounding states will.

If the university will put in new fences to make them sheep tight, these fences should last for at least 30-40 years and 5 years of no rent payments may be a good deal.

    Bookmark   April 25, 2009 at 3:52AM
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hmmmm...when I said reseeding I actually meant when they remove the sheep they would reseed.

Also I would think that if they are putting up the fence then that should be clear that losses to predators and efforts to prevent them should be their problem. But then again Bill did say he was out chasing sheep previously so maybe it wasn't clear.

Bill maybe what you should do is take a look at their plan and see if it covers losses, escapes, predators etc. They should have a responsible plan on how this whole thing should be set up in advance anyway and you should have a right to see it before you seal the agreement. If they don't maybe you can suggest they draft one up. It does not have to be a book but rather an outline to show they have thought this out thoroughly and understand that they are bearing the responsibility of the operation. It should also cover liability issues.

Just a thought.

    Bookmark   April 25, 2009 at 11:57AM
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