Bale grazing advice

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chukar

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Not that this hasn't been discussed before, but tis the season...well in about 4-5 weeks if the snow doesn't bury my last stockpiled pasture.

So I thought I would try bale grazing later this winter. I was looking for some thoughts on getting a few pastures set up for it.
1. Is adequate bale spacing 30 feet?
2. Would a 4 acre pasture be totally demolished after 120 days with 60 cows? (Plan on letting them have 3 days at a time available)
3. Would it be beneficial to aerate this field before putting bales out to allow for nutrients to infiltrate better?

Geographically we get 10-12 inches of precip a year, mostly snow in the winter, but if it doesn't start soon hopefully it comes as rain. The pasture I am thinking about is sprinkle irrigated in the summer so not sure how that would play into bale grazing, as far as any wasted hay is concerned.

We set every thing up for rotational grazing this year making daily moves with polywire and solid high tensile around the outside, so moving fence in winter wouldn't be bad, and if it were every third day, it would sure beat starting the tractor every day. I have been unrolling 2bales a day over the past couple years, which has worked good, but looking to incorporate a little more work for the girls than myself all the time.
 

Aaron

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1) Yes 2) Pretty much - that is to be expected in a small area 3) Might be beneficial - but it takes away from the central purpose that your trying to save money.
 
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chukar

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I guess my second question about demolishing the small area, should have been...Can I expect to be able to keep this small pasture in the rotation next year; or is it going to have to sit out next year due to lots of litter and poo left over?
 

Aaron

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Absolutely. One thing you can do to minimize dead spots is make a few passes over it in the late spring/early summer with a set of harrows. Helps a lot.

Depending on just how think the cover is, and how much soil disturbance you have, you may have to leave that spot for a later date in the rotation. Works well for fall pasture. But it will grow like mad even in the first year after.
 

machslammer

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So to add to his questioning:

Is there anyway to keep the cows from totally demolishing a set of ground where you have the hay rings/hay/ect? Dig out an area and put in geotextile and gravel thick? Anything else?
 

Aaron

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machslammer":2e8nqm01 said:
So to add to his questioning:

Is there anyway to keep the cows from totally demolishing a set of ground where you have the hay rings/hay/ect? Dig out an area and put in geotextile and gravel thick? Anything else?

Not to sound harsh, but, in this case, bale grazing is not for you. Your further off having a sacrifice area and feeding bales with a tractor.

Unless your ground is very dry or frozen for the majority of the feed period, your going to have soil disturbance. With the frozen ground, my disturbance is minimized to the late fall and early spring (before turnout) - but even then, the cows turn the soil over in a lot of spots. Add to the fact a lot of waste material - both hay and manure, and your not going to have a pretty picture - but that's not the point of it all.
 

Aaron

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I forgot to add that bale grazing is best in areas where hay/grass doesn't grow worth a crap. I have lots of those in the form of sand ridges and seams which results in a lack of organic matter. Basically, I can't make the ground any worse by having the cows on it, so I am not too concerned what shape is comes out in.
 

hayray

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I bale graze every winter and have been able to keep the pastures coming back improved after bale grazing. I spread my bales out over a larger area as to help spread nutrients in larger areas. I also usually frost seed on those pastures as well. 30 feet apart seems pretty close and 4 acres over a 120 period seems like too much traffic in such a tiny area so I think your results will be different then mine.
 

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