Advice needed on pasture improvements

Discuss grasses and how to grow and harvest them.
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madbeancounter1
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Advice needed on pasture improvements

Post by madbeancounter1 » Sat Aug 06, 2005 9:15 am

OK, now I am probably going to get blasted for asking this question but here goes anyway.

I've been getting a lot of advice from my employer on what my partner and I should be doing to improve our pasture.

I am not totally satisfied with his solutions partly because a) he doesn't necessarily do what he says to do; and b) his approach to cattle is a little different than the direction that we want to go.

Since we started this venture we have been leaning toward going totally grass-fed; reserving grain only for animals that we are fattening for slaughter or that the kids will be showing for 4-H.

Our pasture is really pretty good prairie grass but this year, being our first, we struggled with a lot of blackberry canes and briars and we are still undecided as to the best way to get rid of them.

If we are successful in purchasing one of the other pieces of ground that we are looking at we will have greater capacity to be able to rotate pastures.

I guess what I really want to know is what we need to do to make sure that we can sustain cattle on pasture without providing more than a salt/mineral block and hay when the snow flies.

We already to plan to fertilize or spread chicken litter. In addition to that we plan to take a soil sample to the extension office for analysis. Is there anything that we are overlooking?

Would you recommend overseeding the prairie grass with anything else?

Please feel free to blast away or provide comments... Just don't treat me like the redheaded step-child. I wouldn't ask the questions if I didn't believe that I would receive sincere help.

Thanks in advance.


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Post by Stocker Steve » Sat Aug 06, 2005 11:27 am

Soil test and put together a budget first.
Spray bad weed patches second.
Cross fence paddocks for rotation third.
Fertilize per soil test and/or interseed clover fourth.

You are looking at an expensive multiyear project but the grazing returns as there as long as it rains. Some folks rent more gound becasue it is cheaper than alot of nitrogen fertilizer for them. That is not an option in my immediate area.
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Post by Chuckie » Sat Aug 06, 2005 2:34 pm

I would for sure take soil samples after spreading the chicken litter, but I would let it sit for a bit. Manure on top of the ground is not absorbed as much as if it is tilled in the ground. I would get a head start on those blackberries. Or any other weed that seems to want to take over. And I would definitely add clover to what ever I planted if it will grow and live in your area. I would definitely look into the Durana clover. It stays up in the heat according to the Universities that have been doing studies. Clover adds nitrogen back into the soil, and also ups your protein in your forage greatly. This will also put the pounds on the cattle. Mr. Billy ran some pictures of his Durana clover fields if you do a search. It is a very strong growing clover and will compete with bermuda. I will be planting this in all my pastures this fall. I am not familiar with prairie grass.

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Post by J. T. » Sat Aug 06, 2005 3:51 pm

No need to apologize for asking a few questions. Education is what the board is here for. I'm not familiar with prarie grass, but I've found that my pastures that receive heavier applications of fertilizer have very few blackberries in them. Cross fencing to force cows to graze undesirable species will also help with weeds, but herbicides to kill blackberries are the most effective method of getting rid of them. Bushhogging also helps. Provide minerals in loose form instead of blocks. Blocks do not permit cows to get appropriate amounts of salt/minerals.
Good Luck!
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Post by Bez » Sat Aug 06, 2005 6:46 pm

Native grass is an excellent feed - are you talking prairie wool / buffalo grass?

If so it can be grazed once and will not come back until the next year.

Has this land been worked or is it completely native?

Get the local ag guy / gal out there for the best regional advice.

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Post by DOC HARRIS » Sun Aug 07, 2005 1:32 am

J. T. wrote:No need to apologize for asking a few questions. Education is what the board is here for. I'm not familiar with prarie grass, but I've found that my pastures that receive heavier applications of fertilizer have very few blackberries in them. Cross fencing to force cows to graze undesirable species will also help with weeds, but herbicides to kill blackberries are the most effective method of getting rid of them. Bushhogging also helps. Provide minerals in loose form instead of blocks. Blocks do not permit cows to get appropriate amounts of salt/minerals.
Good Luck!
J. T.
Correct advice regarding loose minerals instead of salt blocks. Just make sure that you protect it from wind and rain!

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Post by madbeancounter1 » Sun Aug 07, 2005 10:37 am

Bez -

The ground was tilled many years ago and there is also an ancient railway bed that runs through. As for the exact variety of grass I've heard it called prairie grass as well as orchard grass by the locals.

The north pasture that we had fenced off was grazed pretty heavy in early spring and then we moved the cattle out to the larger pasture. After a couple of weeks the north pasture came back about knee high and we opened it back up.

The interesting thing is that even though they graze out in the larger pasture they came back and grazed the north pasture real heavy again.

JT & Doc - are the minerals you feed a custom mix from the mill or do you have a particular suggestion. My boss has got some feeders hung in trees on a couple of his leases that he keeps cottonseed meal and salt in. I have asked him a couple of times about getting off the grain and offering this mixture to my cattle and I always get a non-committal answer from him that pretty much amounts to a no.

Thanks for the reassurance about asking questions. I am sure that there will be many more.
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Post by certherfbeef » Sun Aug 07, 2005 10:43 am

madbeancounter1 wrote:The interesting thing is that even though they graze out in the larger pasture they came back and grazed the north pasture real heavy again.


Cows will always graze the "virgin" grass first when given the choice. The regrowth is more tender and they just like it better.
Kinda like the difference in fresh and 2 day old bread.
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Post by BuckemRanch » Mon Aug 08, 2005 12:19 am

I have been dealing with blackberries too. I use Cimaron (sp) and roundup mixed together. The best time to spary is in the fall when the plants are going dormant. As they go dormant they start taking nutrients (and the herbicide) back to the roots instead pusing them up to the leaves and berries. This stuff works pretty well. Good luck.

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Post by Chuckie » Mon Aug 08, 2005 12:40 am

I found this site, and have posted it before. It is a Texas Legacy Project interview with a man that said he had a lot of land that had been stripped of all nutrients from cotton, lot of grass and a lot of cattle, and he was starving to death because it cost so much money in fertilizer, chemicals to keep the flies off, etc.... He tells how he turned it around to make the ranch work and turn a profit. There might be a paragraph or two in there that doesn't interest everyone, but he told how he made things better and cut the costs. I found it pretty interesting.
http://www.texaslegacy.org/m/transcript ... lttxt.html

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Post by mbdear » Mon Aug 08, 2005 1:52 pm

Chuckie...thanks for bringing the reference to the group. It does a great job of reminding those who practice rotational grazing of the rewards that can flow from being in tune with the land. As I am writing this we are getting a few scattered showers in East Texas that will keep the grass green for another cycle. The cow patties are nice and juicy and the beetles are staying on top of things. The coastal and bahia are each trying to outgrow the other and the cows don't really care which wins so long as it is green and tender.

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