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Bale Grazing

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ValleyView

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Has anyone had first hand experience bale grazing on old worn out pasture ground? I have been overrun with three-awn grass due to lack of fertility and desirable cool season grasses and am debating trying it out this winter. Would be curious to hear from those who have tried and liked it as well as those who would never try it again.

Thanks in advance!
 

bigbluegrass

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I have tried it, with some variations over the years. I have had good success with it. I wouldn't do it here unless you want to basically reset the land. It just gets so muddy in the spring here that you end up with a sloppy mess. However, it does reset the land. I do "waste" a good bit of hay and my goal is to end up with a light bit of hay on top of all of the ground. Don't expect it to green up in the spring. It might take it a few months to get going again. The year after isn't great. Two years after and you will have a decent pasture if you take care of it. You will probably have weeds come up in the bale graze the next year. Ragweed has been the most common I have come in. Some years it is really thick. Plan to mow it early to give the grass a chance to come in. Any specific questions?

Here is an area I set up with a bale graze for the winter of 2018-2019:
IMG_20190111_091254597.jpg

This picture was taken in late May 2019, I believe.

IMG_20190516_154451895.jpg

That turned into a weed patch. I thought I had a picture from this fall. I just grazed it a few weeks ago.
 
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ValleyView

ValleyView

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I have tried it, with some variations over the years. I have had good success with it. I wouldn't do it here unless you want to basically reset the land. It just gets so muddy in the spring here that you end up with a sloppy mess. However, it does reset the land. I do "waste" a good bit of hay and my goal is to end up with a light bit of hay on top of all of the ground. Don't expect it to green up in the spring. It might take it a few months to get going again. The year after isn't great. Two years after and you will have a decent pasture if you take care of it. You will probably have weeds come up in the bale graze the next year. Ragweed has been the most common I have come in. Some years it is really thick. Plan to mow it early to give the grass a chance to come in. Any specific questions?

Here is an area I set up with a bale graze for the winter of 2018-2019:
View attachment 554

This picture was taken in late May 2019, I believe.

View attachment 553

That turned into a weed patch. I thought I had a picture from this fall. I just grazed it a few weeks ago.
Big blue, that is awesome! I really appreciate it and do have quite a few questions:

1) what made you bale graze this area (fertility, recently cleared, etc)?
2) how many cows/pairs did you have bale grazing and how many bales did you go through?
3) did you try to reseed after bale grazing?
4) did you pull soil samples before and after to compare?
5) would you do it again?
 

Little Joe

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I seen where someone was bale grazing the other day, turned the hay up on its end so they couldn't just eat out of the middle and they only cut the net wrap off of top half until it was almost eat down then cut wrap off of rest. They weren't using hay rings. I think I might try that, will just have to make sure to get that wrap cut at the right time so they don't get tangled in it. I have some longhorns so I'm not a fan of hay rings.
 

bigbluegrass

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Big blue, that is awesome! I really appreciate it and do have quite a few questions:

1) what made you bale graze this area (fertility, recently cleared, etc)?
2) how many cows/pairs did you have bale grazing and how many bales did you go through?
3) did you try to reseed after bale grazing?
4) did you pull soil samples before and after to compare?
5) would you do it again?
1) It was cleared a month before I started feeding hay
2) It was 6 pairs (fall calving, so wet cows) and 1 bred heifer. I estimated 8,000 lbs of live weight. I fed 70 bales. Last hay was fed in early May.
3) Yes, I did reseed. Fairly heavy.
4) I took soil samples from the area several years before. I have not taken one after yet.
5) Yes
 

Jeanne - Simme Valley

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You still could use a hayring. Just roll it to the next bale. Depending on how heavy duty it is and how heavy duty you are!
You will lose a lot of hay just fed on the ground, but that may be your end goal.
I understand the thought behind leaving the net wrap on the bottom half of the bale - but - the cattle/and or calves sure can pack up pieces in their stomach that might stay there permanently. It can have detrimental consequences. I def would NOT risk that. I am adamant at getting all string, net wrap, plastic, etc.
 

M.Magis

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You don't have to bale graze to help improve poor pasture. I have in the past, but the last couple years I find it easier to just move where I place bales when I feed. I just place each bale at the edge of the circle around a previous bale, then roll the ring over to it. In the spring I try to push any left over hay into a compost pile, then disc and reseed. It has really helped some poorer soil.
 

bigbluegrass

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You still could use a hayring. Just roll it to the next bale. Depending on how heavy duty it is and how heavy duty you are!
You will lose a lot of hay just fed on the ground, but that may be your end goal.
I understand the thought behind leaving the net wrap on the bottom half of the bale - but - the cattle/and or calves sure can pack up pieces in their stomach that might stay there permanently. It can have detrimental consequences. I def would NOT risk that. I am adamant at getting all string, net wrap, plastic, etc.
Good points. I used a light/cheap hayring. I can move it by myself to the next bale. As you said, the cows waste far more with the bale on the ground without a hayring. Had them help themselves to the next bales a few times and they eat/waste about twice as much. Those areas actually grow great grass, but I just don't have the budget for that much hay.

I used bales with natural twine at first and got off as much as I could. Recently the bales have plastic twine, which I am careful to get all or most of. You can cut it off after the bale is set. I don't think you could get net wrap off after the bale is in place.
 

bigbluegrass

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You don't have to bale graze to help improve poor pasture. I have in the past, but the last couple years I find it easier to just move where I place bales when I feed. I just place each bale at the edge of the circle around a previous bale, then roll the ring over to it. In the spring I try to push any left over hay into a compost pile, then disc and reseed. It has really helped some poorer soil.
I agree! I have done both methods. If I am on the top and in an area close to the driveway, I will do as you describe. When I want to feed on a hill I will set the bales and bale graze. My tractor is only 2 WD.
 

Jafruech

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Out here I have sandy loam soil with very little rainfall. I bale graze to keep litter in the pasture and restore bare areas and hold moisture in the soil longer. I think the poorer your soil and rainfall, the more benefit you will see.
 

Jeanne - Simme Valley

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Jafruech - where are you located? Could you go to your name on top of page & fill in your location? It sure is great to be able to look at someone's name and always see where they are located. I can guarantee you, if you type where you are in this post - I won't remember in the next one. Old age can do that!!! lol
 
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ValleyView

ValleyView

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1) It was cleared a month before I started feeding hay
2) It was 6 pairs (fall calving, so wet cows) and 1 bred heifer. I estimated 8,000 lbs of live weight. I fed 70 bales. Last hay was fed in early May.
3) Yes, I did reseed. Fairly heavy.
4) I took soil samples from the area several years before. I have not taken one after yet.
5) Yes
That looks a decent amount of cover established in a year and was a great idea. My reasons are different for considering bale grazing. After rotationally grazing this year, this is what one of my pastures look like (full of three-awn). I suspect this from management, lack of fertility or both.

As much as three awn sucks, I’m actually somewhat okay with it because it will hopefully help w pugging this winter. Only had the place two years and this is the first year I rotationally grazed it. There is some K31 fescue under this grass mat and Im trying to buy time until weaning when my Elbon Rye is ready for the cows.
 

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ValleyView

ValleyView

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You don't have to bale graze to help improve poor pasture. I have in the past, but the last couple years I find it easier to just move where I place bales when I feed. I just place each bale at the edge of the circle around a previous bale, then roll the ring over to it. In the spring I try to push any left over hay into a compost pile, then disc and reseed. It has really helped some poorer soil.
I have seen the results of moving hay feeding areas as well and mat end up doing that again instead. Not going to lie, the fact I work in town makes bale grazing appealing considering how poor the fertility is on my place. Two birds one stone is pretty appealing and might do a hyrbrid of the two. Here’s the wheat, rye and turnips where I fed last year. Only the areas I fed last year had noticeable growth until our recent rains.
 

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Jeanne - Simme Valley

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I also pick up the feeders with my spear. I suggested moving by hand in the bale grazing system - which you do not use a tractor at all - simply because I think you will save a lot of hay using a ring feeder.
 
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ValleyView

ValleyView

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Someone, maybe Bez posted pictures of bale grazing but using poliwire to limit the number of bales they had access to at one time. Less waste than letting them have a winters worth of hay all at once.
I definitely plan on using poly wire if I go down this road. Seems to give a person a little more control on how fast they fly through the hay.
 

Harlom97

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Has anyone had first hand experience bale grazing on old worn out pasture ground? I have been overrun with three-awn grass due to lack of fertility and desirable cool season grasses and am debating trying it out this winter. Would be curious to hear from those who have tried and liked it as well as those who would never try it again.

Thanks in advance!
Last year I fed 500 bales on a pasture that had been used for hay for several years. i started in 2018 with less than 2% organic matter and last week got soil sample test with over 5%. It’s amazing how the soil has changed and the grass improved. Sure I had some undesirable weeds but spraying is an input that I believe is worth the time and money.
 

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