KSALguy, we have had a dusting of snow and probably will have a couple of snows later. The cattle will take their noses and push the snow aside to locate the grass underneath. IMO, what I am doing can be done to a great extent in other areas. I post these pictures to promote the idea elsewhere. Initially I did not think it would work here as it has.
so you just leave the grass growing in the field, after it's hit by frost, the cattle are let in to eat the brown, frost bitten grass? Is that it? And is this all that you feed? What do you think the protein content of that grass is compared to hay?
We've done this before sort of by accident-just curious about your methodology.
I'm not a cattle person (horse person) but after a frost, the fructan (sugar) production goes way up in the grass as a reaction to the stress of frost. That's why it's important to keep founder-prone horses off frosty grass.
Harplade, I am in NC but here is the results from the University of Arkansas findings: The nutrient value of the stockpiled fescue was 18% protein and 69% energy (TDN) versus his hay value of 9.5% protein and 51% TDN. The fescue was considerably better quality. My cattle have access to nothing but the fescue and legumes in my pasture year round. I feed no hay or grain. The stockpiled fescue is allocated for the animals to graze daily. This minimizes the waste and permits me to have stockpiled feed for not less than 90 days with some reserve should Winter linger. Currently I am feeding approximately 7/10ths of an acre per day to more than 100 cows, heifers and calves. I do not have an accurate headcount at this time. That area you see in the pic was yesterdays paddock. I will move the cattle to a comparable area in another 4 hours. It takes 15 minutes to accomplish the move and to setup the temporary fencing.
you must have alot of land? I'd have to do high level math to figure out how much we'd need to stockpile for 2 horses, 4 cows, 6 sheep and 3 goats. That may be above my head during the week before Christmas.
We're growing Argentine Bahia-just wondering if it fairs as well as your fescue. When we unintentionally did it one year and let the horses graze it b/c we didnt' want to buy hay, they did well as far as body condition. And they were always out eating so I figured there was something worthwhile in the field.
harplade, my ratio of acreage to cattle is probably less than most of those that post here. I just on Friday got a report from a company I hired to do a GPS study and I have approximately 1.6 acres of pasture for every cow and heifer on the farm. From that 1.6 acres I feed the cow and raise her calf to weigh ~550 lbs over the period of a year. No grain or hay is brought in in normal rainfall years. I am unfamiliar with the Argentine Bahia. I will attempt some research on it however.
Bahia is an awesome grass as long as you have enough rain and sub-tropical temps for it. It's a very aggresive grass that overwhelms much of its competition. As long as you have the rain and the heat to grow it, it's great. I've tried it where I'm at in SE OKla and have only been successful during really wet summers. I've got a friend in Louisianna that says it grows so well it becomes a nuisance at times. I told him to get more cows!
I researched the Argentine Bahia and from that have concluded that it has many features but does not rate high for stockpiling nor would it tolerate the cold we have. Stands of Bahia also have to be reestablished after a number of years. Even though fescue is not considered as a good grass by many, it has many unappreciated characteristics. There are stands of fescue in my area that have been established for 40 years or longer. There are some grasses in Australia that perform admirably but are not permitted for importing. I consider myself as a grass farmer rather than a cattleman and I am always interested in various species and enjoy reading about new grasses. At this time I am trying to establish a new to me clover known as Alice. The Alice clover is suppose to provide lots of nitrogen which would eliminate my dependence on buying nitrogen, either natural or man made.
I will pull a drag harrow over the paddock when the cattle are shifted. This area will be grazed again before flies become a problem and I want the pats spread to distribute the fertilizer and so the cattle will graze the complete the entire area and not around the pats. They are currently on a long rectangular section that I just shift the poly wire over to the adjacent unused area daily. I have about a weeks worth of grazing left in this paddock. I was surprised this evening as I was looking at the area they grazed in late November and it has actually showing some recovery. May I suggest that you do not let your cattle graze your paddocks to the ground. Doing so will impact the recovery in the Spring. IMO you would be ahead to put them on hay now and have early grazing later. The small amount of grazing now will be to the detriment of what you could have around mid March.
KSALguy, bermuda grass is good for stockpiling provided you will be running open or pregnant cattle that start the season off in good body condition. The bermuda grass if fertilized in late August or early September should have a protein level around 11 percent. Some of the cattle may give up a little body condition but to me that is not detrimental as they will regain that rapidly with the Spring grass growth. If you do not fertilize the bermuda it will be necessary to use a protein tub provided you want the cattle to maintain body condition similar to that of the animals on fertilized pastures. I would fertilize with urea as it is the cheapest nitrogen source but you will need rain following application. If fescue or blue grass are not easily grown in your area I definitely would go for the bermuda or a bermuda mix with whatever does well. To get the best return plan on limiting the animals using an electric partition fence. The person managing the paddocks needs to develop a "feel" for the amount to make available. Too small of an area and the cattle suffer; too large of an area and feed is wasted. If you have never done this before try this. Put your temporary fence around a very small area and give the cattle access to the area and see how long it takes them to eat the area down to about 3 inches high including the lesser plants that they normally would eat. Now do a bit of math. You want to determine the size of the area just consumed by walking the area off and counting the steps and how many minutes it took them to eat that area. We want the animals to have enough area that they can eat everything in 2 each 45 minute periods. Lets assume it took 30 minutes and the area was 150' wide and only 30' in length. Therefore they need 3 times as much time to get the total of 90 minutes. If the bermuda grass stand is consistent then you need to allocate an area 150' by 90' each day. After you do get into the routine the cattle will let you know if they are getting too little or too much grazing. Too little and they will rush/run into the new paddock on the next day. Too much and they will have an indifferent attitude plus you will see that they did not clean up the area from the previous day. My cattle will patiently stand by without balling as I position the next paddock and once given access will walk into the new area and commence grazing. If I am late it getting there they will stand still and quietly for a few hours, obviously they are content.
I'm watching closely to see when the fescue gets down to 2" tall. That's when I'll shut them out of the paddocks and just feed hay. In the meantime, they have the run of the place and are really enjoying it. Today, they were scattered all over.
I used to drag my pastures twice a year. I didn't have a harrow, so I used a rusty set of steel shelves, like you'd see in a warehouse. It did a fair job.
Once I got Muscovy ducks, I never had to drag the pasture again. The ducks follow the cattle around and break up a manure pat until it's about the size of pea gravel. It dries out quickly, before flies can hatch. They're on duty 7 days a week, so the fly problem was really reduced.
It stayed that way until one spring when a family of foxes wiped out most of my ducks. The flies were bad that spring. By midsummer more ducklings grew up and took over the job. The number of flies went back down.
This fall, a pair of red-tail hawks built a nest in a tree on the edge of my pasture. The ducks wouldn't come out of hiding, so the flies got bad again. When cold weather came, the hawks left. The ducks are venturing out again.
I hate work. If I can get a duck to do it for me, I will. Besides, a real harrow ain't cheap and I wore out my shelves.
I go to all the grazier club presentations here. I wish I had enough room to grow my own hay. I'd stockpile all I could and let the cows and goats harvest it.
I'd love to be able to have a pasture that looks as nice as yours.
genebo, obtain a length of 2 inch or larger of schedule 40 pipe 6 feet long. Come in from each end about 6 inches and drill a hole 1/2 inch or large through the pipe on each end. Obtain two 1/2 eye bolts long enough to go through the two holes and lock two nuts on the back side of each eye bolt and then get a length of 3/8 inch chain long enough to make a "tongue" that will be V shaped with a loop at the junction of the V. Obtain at least 4 each 3/8 eye bolts with a 1 inch eye and space them equally on the pipe facing rearward and lock them on by jamming two nuts together on each bolt. source a length on the heaviest chain link that is 6 plus feet tall and not less than 6 feet long. While your are at it get a 6 ft length of the bar stock that is used to terminate the chain link when fastening it to a post when erecting a fence. Use these materials to make the drag portion of the harrow. Use the bar stock piece to slide through the fence end and the 1 inch diameter eyes of the 3/8 inch eye bolts. Once assembled bend the ends of the bar stock at a 90 degree angle to lock it in place. This will make the best manure bursting harrow imaginable and it will not build up with trash when pulled.
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