Pasture question

Discussion in 'Homesteading Questions' started by Concrete Cowboy, May 16, 2006.

  1. Concrete Cowboy

    Concrete Cowboy Well-Known Member

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    This is our second year managing our pasture. We planted a “horse and pony mixture” bought at a local feed store. IIRC its clover, alfalfa and a few other grasses. It seems to be too high. I thought our livestock would keep it down but I think I have to mow it. I only have a riding mower and I suspect my highest height would be taking off too much (like 70 % of the grass) Do you think that would be damaging? Would you pay someone with a tractor that had a higher setting?
     
  2. MomOf4

    MomOf4 Well-Known Member

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    With the way things have been growing this year, I would think you would be OK. We mow ours with a bush hog, and it is just higher than the highest setting on the riding mower.

    It will also grow better if you mow it on occassion - just like with cutting hair.

    If you are concerned about it, I would mow half with your mower, wait a couple of weeks for that to grow back up, and mow the other half.
     

  3. Lynne

    Lynne Well-Known Member

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    Wait until the dew is off and mow it with your mower before you HAVE to pay someone to bring in a tractor. Depending on where your are I would worry more about planting clover and alfalfa for your horses and ponies. I'm sure some will give you links to the promblems that clover can cause.
     
  4. Concrete Cowboy

    Concrete Cowboy Well-Known Member

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    We just have sheep and goats, the seed bag was labled "horse and pony mixture". Is clover problematic for sheep and goats?
     
  5. Concrete Cowboy

    Concrete Cowboy Well-Known Member

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    I've been cutting my hair for my whole life...it's not growing back.
     
  6. MomOf4

    MomOf4 Well-Known Member

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    ROFL!!! I think it only works if there is hair there to start with! :)
     
  7. Lynne

    Lynne Well-Known Member

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    Now that I wouldn't know, I saw "cowboy" and "horse and pony mix" and assumed.... well you know what they say about that! :) But anyway go ahead a mow while you still can.
     
  8. gccrook

    gccrook Well-Known Member

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    Clover is fine for your goats. You don't say how large of a pasture, nor how many goats, nor how tall it is. Too many missing pieces of information. It might be tall now, but will slow down later, and then the goats will need it. I have never had to mow a pasture with my goats in it, but then I know how many goats I have and the size of the pasture.
     
  9. moopups

    moopups In Remembrance

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    Pasture grasses have a delicate balance between the blades and the root system. If you remove 90% of its height it could take up to 30 days before it starts to regrow. The root system must die a lot for the chemicals rebalance to happen; however if you cut it at half height the balance can be returned within 24 hours.
     
  10. Concrete Cowboy

    Concrete Cowboy Well-Known Member

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    I have about a 3 acre pasture. I have 4 sheep, 2 adult goats and 3 baby goats. It's higher in some spots then others...I could check. My guess a foot and a half.
     
  11. gccrook

    gccrook Well-Known Member

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    I guess my point is this. I chose last year to mow one of the pastures (~1 acre) I had 5 goats to go on. It turned out to be a bad idea. Sure, it was super high in the spring, but later on, the goats had to be moved, because they were overgrazing it. I should have left it and let them have at it all summer, and by the end of the summer it would have been fine. I have since gotten over the idea that there is such a thing as too long in my pastures. It eventually evens out as the summer goes along. Stuff slows down growth, but the goats don't slow down their appetite.
     
  12. unioncreek

    unioncreek Well-Known Member Supporter

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    Just cut it down to 4 inches in height. You don't want to cut it any lower or you'll cause it to use it's root reserves.

    Bobg
     
  13. Concrete Cowboy

    Concrete Cowboy Well-Known Member

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    So is there no downside to not mowing it? All I really want to avoid is killing it.
     
  14. Carol K

    Carol K Well-Known Member

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    There is a downside to not mowing and that is that some of the pasture could get unpalatable and the animals won't eat it anyway, but if you mow part of it then it will be fresh growth, and they like that. Like someone else said, mow half and see how it grows back.

    Carol
     
  15. rambler

    rambler Well-Known Member Supporter

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    Most pasture is wrecked by overgrazing. It is good to let it grow out to seed oncve in a long while - every 3 years or s o - to let the grass get itself filled out again.

    Best bet is to have 4 or more pastures, & rotate your critters through these smaller pastures. They will graze them down, them will have time to rest & regrow again.

    With one big pasture, you critters will overgraze the tender stuff, & not eat the courser tough stuff. This is wasteful - your pasture is both undergrazed & overgrazed at the same time.

    Being able to control the rate of grazing on smaller spots is key, & can double the amount of pasture grass you have available over the year.

    If your pasture grass goes to seed, or gets too course, mowing it back is helpful. On the other hand spring is the best time of growth for your pasture, and in a typical drier summer period you will regret cutting down & wasting that fast growth, as the short grass goes dormant & your critters go hungry.

    I would not, nohow, be in to big of a hurry to cut a pasture this time of year. In mid-summer if you still have too tall, too much grass, mow some then. You can level it up, take down some old weeds, etc. during summer, if the critters didn't keep up with it then.

    There is no easy, one size always fits answer to this. Depends the type of grass, how heavily the pasture will be grazed, what type of pring you are having, and what type of summer you will have. In another 2-4 weeks, your pasture will really slow down growing, and you will need to let the critters graze off the reserves that grew now. If you mow it now, what are they going to eat then?

    Now, you would probably be hurting yourself by mowing. It needs to grow. Let it grow, it is your crop.

    --->Paul
     
  16. Hammer4

    Hammer4 Well-Known Member

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    Our animals ( cattle and horses ) won't eat the tall stuff once it gets big enough to have a seed head on it. They will graze around it and keep eating the low stuff over and over.

    I have one paddock I will need to mow as it has a lot of tall seeded out grass in it already. I should have concentrated the animals in it earlier to keep ahead of the growth, ahh well, live and learn.

    When I mow it, I will try and cut it and leave it 4 - 6 inches long. I mostly want to take the really tall stuff down and leave the rest a good healthy height.
     
  17. Silvercreek Farmer

    Silvercreek Farmer Living the dream. Supporter

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    This is a subject that I am far from expert on but these are some observations: I think the clover/alfalfa comment refers to the risk of bloating from animals scarfing too much too fast. The way to avoid this is, in the spring feed them well on hay first and then turn them out on the pasture for an hour or so, the next day do the same only 2 hours, and so on until you have them out there all day, it allows the bacteria in their guts to adjust to the influx of new stuff. I have heard about some animals that will still bloat no matter what. One may say not to plant clover/alfalfa, however these legumes are one of the best sources of protein/vitamins, much better than grass, you just have to be careful.

    As far as mowing goes, it seems like the goats will eat the immature seed heads if they have a choice, but after they mature it seems like the grass looses vigor, so I will mow if it gets too high. I modified my mower to mow a little higher, about 8 inches high, just enough to take the seed heads with out getting into much of the leafy stuff.

    Also you can force them to clean up better if you fence them into a small area at a time with portable fencing, then you can move them and that area can rest while the clean another, this also helps with worms. A lot of people are doing work with this method and can tell you more about it.

    So to mow or not to mow? I might see if anyone has a sickle bar mower that you can borrow, I always thought that would be the way to go, because you could set it a little higher, you might even be able to bale some hay, then you could then save all this extra growth for later.