1. Continue running the ram hoggets, 2ths and rams together, open up more pasture, and move them around as one mob, the way they were left. Upside, it's easy, and will keep the rotation/trough filling to a weekly job. Downside, the 2ths and rams compete better than the hoggets, and the hoggets are showing signs of being unthrifty. Yes, this is the same farm on which half the hoggets died last year from a mystery illness.
2. Split the mob into one mob containing the hoggets, and one with the 2ths and rams. The mobs would be about even size. The adult sheep eat more, but don't need as high a quality pasture. They can then be left on the two paddocks they now have, and should be fine for the rest of the winter. There's another rough paddock that they can be let into if things get really dire. That would leave the hogget mob at a size where they can be put into the smaller but better paddocks for a reasonable amount of time, and wouldn't have to compete, so should pick up with the better feed they'd be getting. Downside, I'd probably have to go fill their troughs in the dark one night during the week, I'd probably have to crutch them because the better feed will make them daggy. It would leave nothing 'up the sleeve' for if the grass doesn't start to grow in August. The upside is, they should pick up condition and start to grow, which the current grazing regime is not achieving.
3. If I shut the adult sheep right out the back, that would save one decent sized paddock of good grass, plus the aforementioned rough one, for emergencies, while still being able to do (2). The downside to that is the back paddock lacks water, so I'd be carting buckets to them twice a week.
Good farm management is about doing what's best for the sheep. So, I'll do number three, and if it proves too difficult to maintain, I'll rethink shutting the rams out the back, and do some more shuffling, maybe spread the hoggets over the three available paddocks rather than chew them out in a rotation, and see if that helps conserve what's there.
The ewes are all out on more land than they need, so other than loaning them to the neighbours for a week and counting them periodically, they need no attention till they start to lamb late September. They're fresh (6 weeks) off the shears, and looking very well for this time of year.
Yes, I am pretending they're mine. Although, if they were actually mine, the hoggets would never have run with the adult sheep so they wouldn't be looking unthrifty now. But you get that. I would have also made the paddocks smaller to allow for the minimum four mobs that any sheep farm has to deal with.
lalalala (i know, riveting stuff. oh yes)