Hey Pasture People

Discussion in 'Homesteading Questions' started by moonwolf, Jun 28, 2005.

  1. moonwolf

    moonwolf Well-Known Member

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    I tried posting something yesterday about the time the board went down. The look of the new forums is excellent, by the way and congratulations to the administrators for keeping us provided with an excellent discussion format!

    I was asking what people's experiencxes were that have restored pastures?

    The scenario is for about 25 acres mostly that is a wildflower/weed and some scrub brush could come back to good pasture depending on the involvement.
    The idea is to possibly hire a local farmer to plow and reseed. I like the idea of a mixed hay/alfalfa or mixed/trefoil pasture that about 1/3 of the acerage put into a rotational paddock system.

    Questions are:
    What you might estimate the cost for doing such?
    What better, or other ideas, you have for restoring the pasture for useful production?
    Livestock types? I'm thinking perhaps Boer goats?
    Haying? Would be about 20 acres of it.
     
  2. agmantoo

    agmantoo agmantoo Supporter

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    moonwolf,
    I guess I am the boards pasture nut! I would never plow the pasture provided the land is smooth and free of erosion. I do not like to have heavy equipment on the land promoting compaction. If the existing ground cover contains the grasses I wanted I would kill the broadleafs with herbicides to get rid of the undersireable plants. Then I would bring the PH and the nutrient level up to par and possibly sod plant some additional grass and any additional legumes that I wanted. Following this, I would not put any animals on the improved pasture for a full growing season. During this idle time I would keep the pastures clipped and monitor the fertilizer needs. I would set the entire acreage up for rotational grazing and I could still harvest hay as needed and not stress any of the areas with excessive grazing.
     

  3. twstanley

    twstanley Well-Known Member

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    I agree with the previous poster, don't plow unless you have to smooth the ground.

    I also agree with do your soil tests so you know what nutrients and ph balancing you need to do, preferrably this fall.

    The best thing you can do is get your tractor and rotary cutter ( brush hog ) out and start mowing. Mow every two weeks or as needed, keep cutting it about 4 - 6 inches high, that way the grass is at its optimal length but the weeds are getting cut off before they can produce seeds. The weeds will expend all their growing potential trying to get to seeding height and the grass/legumes can really have and advantage to choke them out.

    Our 10 acres when we bought it was very weedy and the pastures were very poor condition. 3 years later the pastures are carpets of grass and clover, very nice looking. I used a chain harrow to drag and overseed in the spring last year a good pasture mix of grasses and clover. I sprayed once with a boom sprayer ( $300 at tractor supply, they call it an atv sprayer ) using broadleaf weed killer ( 2-4-d generic stuff ) last spring on the worst areas.

    The main thing is the mowing, it has had the most effect. The spraying has helped a bit, and the overseeding as well. But mowing the weeds every couple weeks has really, really killed them off while allowing the grasses and clover to take over. Which is nice for me, as I like mowing out in the pasture.
     
  4. moonwolf

    moonwolf Well-Known Member

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    As best I know from the previous pasturing with cattle here, there is red and alsike clovers with some sweet clover already prominent in the pasture.
    The willows are beginning to take some hold but could be brush hogged down. Liming would help as I know the soil is acid. But if doing the grass cutting method as twstanley suggests, what is the best method to get the soil to hold and accept the lime?

    agamantoo,
    How many areas would you suggest dividing 25 acres into rotational grazing plots? Electric fencing obviously, right? cost??
     
  5. rambler

    rambler Well-Known Member Supporter

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    It is best to give a pasture plot 30 days of rest between grazing. It is also best to only have the critters on a plot for 3 days at a time. Also, one needs a couple of 'waste' plots for rainy days, that will get trampled & muddy.

    So, you need about 10-15 plots for grazing to best, intensive, practices.

    I ended up splitting my 10 acre pasture into 3 plots, and wow oh wow has it made a world of difference in the quality & qantity of grass & legumes I have!!!!! And almost no weeds any more, used to be all I had, now I have to look to find them.

    I did try to interplant a pasture mix several years ago, but I picked one of the worst drought summers we've had, & needed to graze it way to early & way to short.

    Anyhow, the old grasses came back in spades & make a wonderful healthy pasture in about 3 years with very little work on my part.

    I try real hard to mow & bale one of the 3 plots every year for hay. This mowing really upsets the weeds, & allows the grass to be evenly cut & regrow as it wants to.

    When I re-seeded the pasture, I very lightly worked it with a field cultivator very early in spring, worked in some fertilizer (lime is not needed here). I would try that to work things in, expose perhaps 1/5 - 1/3 of the ground. Seed it, drag it, & hope for rain. Try to not use it at least unil late fall so everything establishes. You can & actually should mow it, I would cut it for hay myself. Seems a pain to make hay & turn right around & feed those bales to the critters, but wow does it make a good pasture from little other effort and not much added seed.

    --->Paul
     
  6. agmantoo

    agmantoo agmantoo Supporter

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    moonwolf,
    Just broadcast the lime on top of the soil, it will be absorbed over time without runoff. Apply the lime asap as it takes time for it to become available. I am uncertain as to how productive your acreage will be. How many acres does it take to carry a cow/calf in your area? The cost of electic fence is minimal. The single most costly item for 25 acres will be good posts. You cannot skimp on the corners. Line posts aren't critical. Grade 3 galvanized 12.5 gauge wire is around $80 US for 4000 ft. If you are not on a heavily traveled road and an occasional calf being out doesn't hurt anything you can get by with 2 wires, one at 18 inches and the other at 30 inches. Cross fencing for the paddocks can be a single wire at 30 inches. You will not need a lot of purchased gates. For gates for the cattle to move between paddocks I use a 7 1/2 ft piece of PVC pipe. I just extract the hairpin that holds the wire to the post and set the PVC pipe over the fiberglass post. In the top end of the PVC pipe I have a V sawed and I place the wire in the V. This permits the cattle to walk under the fence and if the grass gets worn I can move the "gate" to another area. For truck or tractor access, I pull the hairpins from a couple of posts and weight the wire to the ground and drive over the wire. I never want a paddock to be so big that the livestock cannot graze it down to 3 or 4 inches in 3 to 4 days. If the padddock is large the animals will only eat the choicest forage and then eat the same forage again as it trys to regrow. This double grazing will stress the desired forage and then the less desired forage will become the dominant forage, obviously something that you do not want to occur.
     
  7. fordson major

    fordson major construction and Garden b Supporter

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    first thing first what type of soil and drainage ? willow require a lot of effort to destroy and keep gone . dug out they regrow from roots and leave holes you have to fill.there are herbicides that can kill the plant before you dig the root ball out.we usually reseed a field by just running the legume seed in in the spring ,the growth of the grasses helps the young plants establish . when we are seeding a rough field we work it one year putting it into a row crop or cereal then reseed to a hay pasture mix. with all the winter kill we had here this year we are ploughing a lot this fall!! we havebeen pastureing some older hay stands that had gotten ruted up three years ago when we had a very wet summer.
     
  8. moonwolf

    moonwolf Well-Known Member

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    Would broadcasting the lime be better now while there is growth or in late fall after a lot of what is in the pasture dies back?
    What about frost seeding? Is there any additional value for doing that without plowing?

    Thanks for the info and ideas.
     
  9. Mutti

    Mutti Well-Known Member Supporter

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    We brought back sparse weedy pastures by mowing,liming past soil tests, and running sheep for a few years that loved to eat the weeds. Went from land that qualified for erosion control money to pastures that we could take hay off and still run cattle that stayed too fat. Takes a few years...most important is the soil test...once your Ph is correct certain weeds/plants will dissapear. DEE
     
  10. rambler

    rambler Well-Known Member Supporter

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    Get-er-done. Lime takes months to years to take full effect, depending on the type you apply. Spread it now if you can. It will help you out next spring. If you wait until fall, then it could be mid-summer of next year before it really kicks in. Surface application is fine, rains will move it - slowly - into the top few inches.

    The lime does not affect your plants directly, does not matter what stage your pasture growth is in. Lime is a big Tums for your soil. The sooner your soil is in proper balance, the sooner your plants will be able to use the avalable N, P, & K in your soil. So, you want the soil PH balanced right with the lime, before anything else is going to work well for you. Since lime is so slow acting, get-er-done, will start helping you in a month or 2, will really kick in & do it's job in 6 months & after....

    --->Paul
     
  11. mysticokra

    mysticokra Well-Known Member

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    Pay attention to the type of weeds you are growing. They are a good indicator of the soil deficiencies you must deal with. I was surprised at how quickly our sagebrush and weeds disappeared when we limed 2.5 tons/acre. We used crushed sea shells for lime and plowed it into the soil. Then we planted fescue, clover and orchard grass. We cut 100 rolls on 25 acres this week and the real farmers were excited at how weed free and rich the hay was. We NEVER used herbicides of any kind. :)
     
  12. pcwerk

    pcwerk Well-Known Member Supporter

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  13. agmantoo

    agmantoo agmantoo Supporter

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    pcwerk, dandelions mean you do not have any goats or too few goats! Pardon me for this response as I not not help myself :)
     
  14. pcwerk

    pcwerk Well-Known Member Supporter

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    If I had a better fence, I would love to get some goats. Then we
    wouldn't have to barter for mowing services all the time ;-)
    james