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  #1  
Old 08/05/11, 01:32 PM
 
Join Date: Sep 2010
Location: SE Alabama
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Rotational grazing, 2 acres, Dexter cattle, help!

Turns out my lawn is Bahia, so I have some pasture. I bought 13.13.13 yesterday for 1/2 acre, that's what the co-op recommended. I have about two acres of lawn/pasture, and will have one Dexter cow and her calf.

I'm going to mark off 1/2 acre tomorrow and put down the fertilizer, the guy said it would take 7-10 days to see the new growth. I know Dexters only need 1/2 acre, so we're sending off soil samples, and will fertilize/lime according to those when we plant ryegrass in October for the other 1.5 acre.

Once I have the growth on the fertilized 1/2 acre, what size sections should I graze the cow in at a time in order to optimize the growth as in rotational grazing? I will graze her some on the unfertilized portion, but would prefer to stick to the fertilized as much as possible. I will be using step-in posts and electric to make the sections.

(I know Bahia alone isn't the proper nutrition, I have a call in to the ruminant nutritionist at Auburn for direction in what else to seed for her)

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Old 08/05/11, 02:30 PM
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Ideally, you need to read the grazing sticky at the top of this forum. Don't have to do the whole thing, but the first part of it should explain it clearly enough.

What Agmantoo recommends is putting them in a small section and seeing how much they graze in 45 minutes. Double that amount for one days allotment. I didn't do exactly that, I guesstimated what 2 acres per cow on a yearly basis would look like for one days allotment and tightened it up over the next few days. There was one advantage to that, they got used to the electric fence getting steadily closer and never did knock it down. (They were already trained to it.)

IMHO, you don't need synthetic fertilizers. They increase growth so much that they "burn up" the organic matter which is your long term, slow release, fertilizer. The cattle will spread their own fertilizer and with the addition of lime you'll be amazed at what can happen when you allow the pasture to recover in between grazings. Good luck!

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Old 08/05/11, 06:53 PM
 
Join Date: Sep 2010
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I actually read it a week or so ago, before getting a cow became more than a dream for the future LOL. I have memory problems, and I didn't remember anything about the size, so your info about what they eat in 45 minutes is exactly what I needed to know, thank you! I will, of course, be referring to that thread a lot.

I don't want to use chemical fertilizers long term, but I have a cow coming tomorrow hopefully, so I am willing to use it to get pasture going for her, and then if it is possible to use just manure for fertilizer, then in the future that is definitely the route I want to take.

My co-op told me not to use lime until I get soil results, is that bad information?

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Old 08/05/11, 07:38 PM
 
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I'm no soil or fertilizer expert, but I would not put a pregnant heifer on 1/2 acre that's just been chemically fertilized. Ask the Auburn nutritionist about this before you do it.

I think you'd be better off feeding her a good quality hay for a while before fertilizing. Just my opinion.

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Old 08/05/11, 07:56 PM
 
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Hmmm, the ext guy said that would be OK, I actually asked about that. Dumb question, if I fertilized with goat manure, how long would it take to get the growth? I do have *some* available goat manure. How long would you wait after using chemical fertilizers to let her graze there?

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Last edited by Catalytic; 08/05/11 at 08:03 PM. Reason: to add a question!
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Old 08/05/11, 10:40 PM
 
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Catalytic, I don't know enough about chemical fertilizers to advise you on this. Instinct tells me not to use it and then turn a pregnant heifer out on it. Drought conditions will also have an impact on how you handle your pastures. Will this heifer be sharing with your goats? Do you have any hay for this animal?

Here's an article I found when I did a search on fertilizing a pasture. It pertains to horses, but I have a feeling that many of the same principles apply to cattle.

http://www.newjerseyhorse.com/articl...-Pasture..html

Perhaps Agmantoo and some others will speak up on this and offer their opinions.

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Old 08/05/11, 11:03 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by G. Seddon View Post
Catalytic, I don't know enough about chemical fertilizers to advise you on this. Instinct tells me not to use it and then turn a pregnant heifer out on it. Drought conditions will also have an impact on how you handle your pastures. Will this heifer be sharing with your goats? Do you have any hay for this animal?

Here's an article I found when I did a search on fertilizing a pasture. It pertains to horses, but I have a feeling that many of the same principles apply to cattle.

http://www.newjerseyhorse.com/articl...-Pasture..html

Perhaps Agmantoo and some others will speak up on this and offer their opinions.
She will NOT be sharing with the goats, and I do have hay for her (and them). The goats forage in the woods, she will be on my lawn. Unless my well goes dry, I'll be able to water regularly, and even in the extreme drought we had earlier this year, I was able to keep some green grass. (Just have to say, i wasn't trying to water the grass, I was watering my new fruit trees and garden, and the grass stayed green where the sprinkler hit)

If I am using my grass to feed a cow though, I have zero qualms about continuing to water even during severe drought. The city water has been under restrictions since 2003, I believe, where only certain number houses (odd/even) can water on certain days, so we only use well water for the watering.

OK, read the link, says 2-3 weeks but doesn't mention pregnant horses. I didn't plan to let her on the fertilized area for 7-10 days anyway, so waiting 3 weeks is no problem. Hopefully someone can chime in about if I need to wait longer for my girl.
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Last edited by Catalytic; 08/05/11 at 11:08 PM.
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Old 08/06/11, 09:43 AM
 
Join Date: May 2005
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Perhaps I misunderstood you, Catalytic. Your posts read as if you are planning to put the heifer on the half-acre on which you plan to apply chemical fertilizer. Did I misread?

Regarding the article, if they advise not to put horses out on freshly fertilized pasture, it would follow that pregnant horses should not be put on it either. As I said, I myself would not do this with a cow, pregnant or otherwise.

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Old 08/06/11, 11:07 AM
 
Join Date: Feb 2007
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If you don't have fencing up already you can consider tethering the cow. You can then move her pin forward as much or as little as you like to make her eat the grass within her reach down as far as necessary to utilize it most thoroughly. This also allows you to utilize odd corners, etc. Put her in the shade during the heat of the day and make sure she has a drink and she'll do fine. This is by far the easiest and cheapest way to rotationally graze one or two cows. Voisin has a chapter in his book, 'Grass Productivity' discussing this and even mentions doing it with much larger herds of cattle. That might be a little more labor intensive - but one or two cows isn't much at all. I have three jerseys right now that we're tethering on aftermath. It's not particularly good so I'm moving them 3-4 times per day. They get moved to the shade during the hottest part of the afternoon and get lead to water for a drink 2-3 times a day. It's just like confining them in a tiny paddock. They're out from April to November and have never had any problem with them in 6 years.
Also - after the first time through an area, the grass will grow up around the cow pats. Most cows would rather starve to death than eat this, seemingly perfectly good looking grass. After a couple of passes quite a bit of ground could be tied up in these - they'll need to be spread out, etc.

Good luck!

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