Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Rotational grazing redux

I've talked about rotational grazing -- moving animals over pasture to efficiently use the grass and allow it to recharge, and was thinking about that when I was checking my holstein steers. 

These four steers are on 10 acres of river bottom land; pretty rich, nice stuff.  Grows great grass, high water table so you really don't have to irrigate; pretty much trouble free, lush grazing.  They're standing on grass they've been grazing for two months now, and they move themselves around the pasture and eat as they please.  when it gets to ankle length they move on to another patch.  

Rotational grazing is about grazing your land to its carrying limits.  but old-style free grazing, if you're stocking very few head of livestock per acre, works pretty darned well and its about as trouble free as you can get.  I check the cattle every few days, walking into the pasture to find them and looking at the overall condition of the land, and then that's about it. 

I don't write much about the cattle because they really don't take much time at all.  I understand completely the lure of cattle ranching.  Its pretty satisfying to look out and see them pretty much taking care of themselves. 


Lee said...

While set stocking is certainly the easiest method of grazing, it has a lot of disadvantages for people that don't have pretty much ideal bottom land to work with. Rotational grazing is not just about pushing your carrying capacity. It leads to more even manure distribution, increases the diversity of edible plants in the field, controls weeds, and improves productivity. Set stocked animals can pick and choose what they want to eat, so fields around here get overrun with blackberries and daisies, and the most palatable grasses are grazed out leaving behind tall fescue and similar coarse-leaved species.

Ruth said...

Question: (because I am 'looking into' returning to the farm) About how many cattle do you graze on that ten acres..(also, thanks Lee--whoever you are--for your comment). sincerely, r.