seeding and pasture care for small acreage

Discussion in 'Cattle' started by angus, Apr 30, 2005.

  1. angus

    angus Somewhere in Oklahoma

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    Apr 30, 2005
    Howdy Everyone,

    New listener, First time caller, Total Greenhorn:

    I want to buy 10 acres as a homestead and wish to use roughly 7 acres to graze cattle.

    Questions:

    1) What type of small farm equipment will I need to tend to the pasture: seeding, manure/fertilizing, etc ...

    2) How much will this equipment cost and what is the best way to buy?


    Thanks so Much !!
     
  2. Momof8kiddoes

    Momof8kiddoes Well-Known Member

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    Mar 15, 2005
    Hi Angus,
    Im not sure myself, but I know there are some good books that go over it. One is Keeping A Family Cow, from www.realfoods.com. You might want to check with your local Ag dept. too....they are a wealth of info on this stuff.
    For equipment, do you have something like the Thrifty Nickel? Ask around, and you will find people that know of small papers that advertise locally, with alot of farm equipment and such. The prices will depend greatly on condition of equip. and area you live in. Sorry, probably not alot of help...hope you find what you need though!
    Mary F.
     

  3. big rockpile

    big rockpile If I need a Shelter

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    No more acreage than that I would maybe get a small Tractor and Disk,Brush Hog.Cheapest you might get away with is $5,000.I would use Spreader Wagon to put Fertilizer and Seed down.

    But with 10 Acres I really don't feel you will be able to have enough Cattle to justify buying Equipment.

    big rockpile
     
  4. Carol K

    Carol K Well-Known Member

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    Western NY
    If you divide your pastures well and move your cattle through them, you may not even need equipment, well trator size anyhow. You could use a 4 wheeler or regular ride on mower to drag your pastures in the fall to break up manure, buy a towable spreader to overseed or spread lime, and if you go the 4 wheeler route look for a towable mower. Not sure what else you would really need. If you think you will need more equipment look at the stuff you can get for a 4 wheeler from Agri-fab. I have their disc and the other stuff, works well. Not sure U need a tractor tho.

    Carol K
     
  5. momanto

    momanto SW FLORIDA HAPPYLAND

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    If I May Ask, Do You Think These Same Methods Would Work For A 40 Acres Square Pasture? Thanks.
     
  6. agmantoo

    agmantoo agmantoo Supporter

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    Provided you have the pasture already established and cross fenced the answer IMO is yes. You may need a hand held garden sprayer and a weedeater and good physical health but it will work. A length of heavy chain link fence and a method to pull/drag this homemade harrow to burst cowpiles would be an advantage since the manure needs to be dispersed as cows will not eat grass growing in a cowpile.
     
  7. Carol K

    Carol K Well-Known Member

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    Well my personal preference with 40 acres would be to have a tractor, as I'd like to cut hay off part of it.

    Carol K
     
  8. agmantoo

    agmantoo agmantoo Supporter

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    Hay requirements in Fla. would be required for drought only. Some rounds bales for emergency could be purchased.
     
  9. Carol K

    Carol K Well-Known Member

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    Oh, I didn't answer on the "Florida" basis sorry. Well after I used part of it as a pool, then yes, I'd agree with Agmantoo!!

    Carol K
     
  10. Mark T

    Mark T Well-Known Member

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    I have just about the situation you describe: 9 acres, with 7 in pasture. You do not need a tractor.

    I have used electric wire to break off 24 roughly quarter-acre paddocks and move the cattle every day.

    I follow each move with a mowing at 3 inch height using an old hand-me-down riding tractor. If I didn't have that, I'd use a push mower. A quarter-acre a day isn't much.

    If your pasture is overgrown, you can, as I did, clear it with a pickaxe and clippers. This is hard work, and if I had it to do over again, I'd try to find a neighboring farmer to bush-hog for me. A neighbor might be willing to help you out free of charge, but even if you have to hire somebody, this makes more sense than buying a bush-hog for a one-time hit. For ongoing maintenance, I keep the multiflora and bramble regrowth at bay by running a goat with the cows.

    I do have a half-acre that is so overgrown that I couldn't even begin to tackle it with hand-tools (15 year old forest regrowth), so I am fencing in three pigs this year and letting the animals clear the ground.

    I can't see that a tractor would pay for itself on such a small acreage. Even cutting hay wouldn't pay. You probably want to maximize your carrying capacity so won't have spare paddocks for hay anyway. You'll have too much growth in Spring, but trying to hay in the rainy season is more trouble than it is worth.

    Consider buying hay. If you figure thirty pounds of hay/day to get each brood cow (I'm guessing you are figuring about four of them) through each winter day, figure 120/lbs/day for 150 days (Nov 15 through April 15), that is nine tons of hay. If hay runs you $40/ton, you can feed all your cows for $360 per year.

    If the figure of $5000 for small-time tractor and attachments, it would take about 14-15 years to pay for itself - not including diesel fuel, repairs, your labor, cost of ownership and the bother. I would recommend letting a hay farmer take the time and trouble to do all the work.

    I also only run one cow through the winter and buy calves in Febuary, which minimizes my hay purchasing further.

    If you keep the cows on a small barn lot during the winter, those nine tons of hay will become manure and compost which you can stockpile for the garden or spread in the pasture for added fertility. It can be spread by hand - shovel fulls flung from a wheelbarrow.

    As for dragging the pasture, if you rotationally graze, the cows will spread most of the manure for you. When you move them to the next paddock, you can kick the patties apart. If you kick them to pieces while they are wet and get a couple of rainfalls before the paddock is used again, the manure will be totally absorbed into the soil. As you walk around the pasture, you an examine the paddock and really pay attention to what is going on with your grass. If you carry a shovel as you walk, you can dig out thistles and brambles before they can get started.

    Joel Salatin suggests using chickens to break up the patties as well. My guineas also peck some apart if I don't kick one day.

    All told, I spend about 45 minutes to an hour tending to the animals each day - a small labor cost to pay if the labor is enjoyable and you save all the money on tractor maintenance.

    The only time I really miss having a tractor is when I have to move round bales. Square bales are much more expensive, so if you hope to make any money you will need to buy round bales. I bring them up to the house in the back of my pickup, park uphill and roll the bales out. I then have to break them up and drag them to the barn on a tarp. This is laborious and time-consuming. It would be neat to have a tractor to zip them out, but the costs and soil compaction issues mitigate against it.
     
  11. twstanley

    twstanley Well-Known Member

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    If you aren't doing managed grazing as mentioned above, a 20 - 30 horsepower compact tractor and a 5 - 6 foot brush hog ( rotary cutter ) will be needed to keep the weeds/brush down that the cows don't eat.

    A chain harrow or some sort of drag to break up manure clumps is also very handy.