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Bale Grazing

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Harlom97

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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.
I’m in my third year of using the hot wire around hay. i tried different step in post and cheap wire. I use the fiberglass post from tractor supply and the best poly wire available.
 

Jeanne - Simme Valley

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I do have a small registered herd, about 30 head. I’ll have some calves come spring, so I can let you know.
The bull has held up well so far on not great pasture, with no pampering.

I’m in my third year of using the hot wire around hay. i tried different step in post and cheap wire. I use the fiberglass post from tractor supply and the best poly wire available.
And TSC does NOT have the best Polywire (IMHO).
 

bulldog04

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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.
I have a weeds come up where I feed also so I usually find rocky place to feed. Mostly pigweed is what I get. I took over a lease place this summer that hasn't been fertilized in years and the ground is in pretty bad shape. It would probably help in this situation to move the rings around and then spray this summer
 

Muletrack

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Just trying bale grazing for the first time this year, east central North Dakota. So wet last year I couldn't get about 40 bales across the creek, so there they remained. Hayed it and removed the new bales, and turned the fall-calving herd out to fall pasture in the area. Not limit grazing by anything, and am amazed at how well they are cleaning things up. Mostly a quack grass and alfalfa mix. Am going to try it overwinter by limiting with wire on a 12 acre paddock near the water fountain. So far, out on the field, haven't had to chop ice!
 
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ValleyView

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BFE

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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.
How long did it take the grass to recover? Anywhere I set out a bale kills the grass out for several years.

I agree, spraying is money well spent. In some pastures, it's worth more than fertilizer.
 

bigbluegrass

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@ValleyView Thanks for the kind words.

@BFE I am not Harlom97, but in my experience a bale graze area will grow grass much faster and better than an area where you just keep feeding hay in the same spot all winter. When I feed in the same spot all winter, I end up with too much hay and the grass can't grow thru it. When I bale graze, the waste hay gets spread out more and there is more hoof action to work it into the ground. I can almost always get some grass seed to germinate the year of the bale graze. The year after is when it really shines, at least in my experience.
 

M.Magis

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At the very least I run a disc over it to expose soil, if theres too much leftover hay I push it into a pile.
 

Post Oak

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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 have set my bales out in a grid pattern and used polywire to separate them and ration them to the cows one bale at a time. It worked real well for me but my cows were conditioned to polywire.
 

RDFF

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I bale grazed all of last winter (Christmas - April, winter stockpile grazed until Christmas). Set bales out about middle of December on a nice day, on an area that's really sandy and needing OM buildup, and then used polywire to limit them to what would last them for no more than about 3 days. The first set of bales took me to early February, after which I had a good idea of how much they'd go through for the rest of the winter, and set that many out on another nice day. Those were the only two days that I had to run a tractor all winter. No rings. Yes, the spots where the bales had been set didn't grow much grass this year, but the circle around that where the cattle stood did much better than the rest of the pasture there.

I feel this is "the only way to go" up here in MN, because of how deep our snow usually gets. I'd prefer to unroll the bales if it could be done with just a 4 wheeler or a side x side, but that's a no go here most of the time. Starting a tractor every day is not going to be in the cards for me... too costly, and too time consuming. I intend to do it again this year, with about 3 times as many animals. My winter stockpile is starting to get down there already... one place will be done Dec. 1, my other place, where I winter the cattle, will probably take me to about Dec. 20. Am working on a plan that will give me more of that, and of higher quality, for next season. Can't beat feed without ANY mechanical harvesting costs!
 

Silver

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We can't bale graze here, but I wish we could.
But I will say that fields we unroll hay in for a few years do produce extremely well. There will be places where the old hay thatch is pretty thick, but if left alone (despite the urge to do something about it) will really put out after a year or so.
 

Stocker Steve

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If you want to be fancy - - you can soil grid test to decide where to start feeding hay.

If you don't stagger the bales close together, you end up with highly variable fertility. A bullseye pattern. If you do, you end up with a big jump in fertility. Usually "VH" for P and K using standard extraction test. Available N is a little tricky. It depends a lot on how much is tied up in the residue you left to decompose.
 

chevytaHOE5674

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Pretty hard to bale graze here as well expecially in the heart of winter but if you can make it work its a great way to spread nutrients and reduce manure handling just like unrolling.
 

ClinchValley86

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I do a combo of unrolling and setting whole bales out. If its dry ill use hay rings. Wetter the ground is the less likely I am gonna use a ring. Unrolling I like the best I think though.
 

Muletrack

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Just trying bale grazing for the first time this year, east central North Dakota. So wet last year I couldn't get about 40 bales across the creek, so there they remained. Hayed it and removed the new bales, and turned the fall-calving herd out to fall pasture in the area. Not limit grazing by anything, and am amazed at how well they are cleaning things up. Mostly a quack grass and alfalfa mix. Am going to try it overwinter by limiting with wire on a 12 acre paddock near the water fountain. So far, out on the field, haven't had to chop ice!
Think it will work great here because of our long, cold winters. A feed lot is the most unnatural place for cattle!
 

Rydero

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I've been what I call modified bale grazing 90 cows for a few winters now.
I bring the hay to 2 or 3 paddocks one day a week and open gates every 2 or 3 days. We have elk in the area that will feed on the hay given the chance so I'm not brave enough to put more than a week's worth at a time.
I find waste increases when I go beyond 3 days of availability at a time. I don't bother with rings anymore because I don't see much difference in waste with or without them. My cows clean up good hay to the ground and just about lick it clean.
I typically feed different qualities of feed and found how you structure that is very important so you don't get a group of really fat dominant cows and a group of really skinny submissive cows. So a typical ration may be 2 bales a day for 7 days with wild hay and alfalfa grass. I'll go to feed and roll out a good alfalfa grass bale so the whole herd access. Then I'll set out 5 wild hay bales on end and just cut the strings. Next paddock 4 good bales - cut strings. Last paddock 4 good bales again - cut the strings. They stay in pen one 3 days and 2 days in the each of the other pens.
I feel it really improves the pasture and or hay fields but it does typically create temporary dead zones for the next summer - then look out! It's a little disappointing how the fertility stays exactly where you fed the bale but it's better than a feedlot. When I have time and there isn't a ton of snow I roll the hay out now (typically fall). Good luck.
 

ClinchValley86

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I unroll when the ground isn't wet or if I'm on a hill.. But do feed whole bales when the ground is wet. I still run the tractor every day. Our fence isn't trustworthy to put a week, let alone a months worth out at a time. Its hitting 15k atm, but who know when it'll be down to 1k.

Sometimes I use rings, but usually not.

We are feeding 5x4s this year and I cannot push them around. Gonna have to get an unroller pretty soon.

Both methods, whole bales and unrolling work well at building the soil. Just gotta change locations often.

I'm saving 10 acres of stockpile for when calving kicks off. Should be in the next month or two.

Wish everyone a successful winter. Aren't we all so thankful to be on a farm during all the 2020 mess.
 

Rydero

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Here's an idea of how they clean up. The well cleaned area is alfalfa grass and the residue behind is poor wild hay. I don't see much waste but maybe the cold climate is actually good for something and helping prevent hay being stepped into the ground. I feel pretty strongly 3-4 days maximum hay at a time helps with waste too. There has to be a frequent half day period where they're waiting to be fed so they go back and clean up. 20190220_171413.jpg
 

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