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Can anyone on here graze cattle all winter long?

redangus

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There have been some people in central Arkansas grazing cattle except for about 4 weeks in Jan - Feb. They use electric fences and gradually open up a pasture of stockpiled winter grasses. This was done with the help of our extension office.

I believe producers are fertilizing bermuda in August...fescue in Sept. We've had relatively wet summers and mild winters too the last several years. So I'm sure you have to get lucky. Anybody else getting through a winter with minimum feeding?
 

Weaver

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Live in southern Illinois and don't like to feed hay because of the expense. We try to graze year round and last winter there was only about seven to ten days that the cows couldn't graze because of snow/ice so we got by with feeding 70 cows 15 round bales over the winter. We don't expect this every year though.
 

dun

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In normal years, whatever that is, we only feed hay when either the pasture is iced/snowed under too deep, and to the cows that we bring into the calving lot after the first group ofr two cleans up all the grass.
There is a little OG, a little bluegrass, dead frozen clover and fescue, fescue, fescue.

dun
 

R.T.

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I was sitting in a feed store back in the early fifties. A rancher walked in and someone asked Mr. Albert hows your pasture this year. Mr. Albert
replied I've got enough grass to run them for 7 months and enough heel flies to run them the rest of the year.
Sorry guys this just came to mind when I read the post.
R.T.
 

jt

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Weaver":1am2ztw2 said:
Live in southern Illinois and don't like to feed hay because of the expense. We try to graze year round and last winter there was only about seven to ten days that the cows couldn't graze because of snow/ice so we got by with feeding 70 cows 15 round bales over the winter. We don't expect this every year though.

weaver,

at what capacity are you stocked with cattle to allow enough stockpiling of grass to graze through the winter?

i have never tried cutting back my herd size to have more winter grass, but have often thought about it. do you build up your herd in the summer and then thin out in time for enough grass to grow? just curious as to the best way to go about this.

thanks

jt
 

redangus

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It will obviously depend on the grazing pressure of your pastures, but this is what I have learned.

In the late summer, have some pasture that your cattle does not have access to. For bermuda, brush hog rather closely and then fertilize 150# of ammonia nitrate in mid August. Do the same for fescue, but wait until September before you mow and fertilize. The studies I have seen in Arkansas shows 16-20% protein and at least 60% TDN on these stock piled grasses.

Also, I have heard using electric fencing to allow pastures to grow. For instance, keep cattle on one end of your field where water is available. Let the cattle graze the grass till it's relatively short. Then, move the fencing back to allow them to the fresh vegetation. Repeat this process until you run out of room. The fresh vegetation will always be better than any hay you might feed...alfalfa excluded.
 

redangus

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weaver,

at what capacity are you stocked with cattle to allow enough stockpiling of grass to graze through the winter?

i have never tried cutting back my herd size to have more winter grass, but have often thought about it. do you build up your herd in the summer and then thin out in time for enough grass to grow? just curious as to the best way to go about this.

thanks

jt

Did I even answer your question?
 

Bez

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Where I live we cannot do this type of all winter grazing - too much snow during the winter and too much mud in the spring. But we do leave them out all winter - even at minus 30 and 40, etc They simply shelter in cedar bush that we have.

Interestingly enough, when we lived in the prairies - Alberta and Saskatchewan - we were able to keep the cows out for a long time - usually most of the winter. I know many who still do this.

Plant a field of oats - late in the season. Swath it around the time of a frost kill. Leave the entire crop - grain / straw and all - lay in the field. Divide the field into sections with single wire electric fence and turn the cows into it. Most folks use a tall growing crop to provide bulk.

The cows do well unless the snow gets up around the level of their eyes as they graze the swaths that are under the snow. Ice can be a problem, but the dry winters do not usually have much ice - mostly snow to a depth of approximately 10 - 12 inches.

Older cows will do better than younger cows - they are somewhat more determined foragers. So young cows usually get hay supplemented.

Water is not usually an issue and the cows seem to do well on snow. I know there may be some discussion on energy useage to melt snow for water - but this type of winter grazing is fairly common in the cold and dry regions of Canada.

We cannot do this in my part of the world as it becomes too wet in the fall and crops on the ground would rot before freeze up.

Lots more to talk about on this subject - but must run for now.

My best,

Bez
 

dun

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With a high clover/legume content, fall fertilizing of fescue hurts the clover. It's recommended to nut use more then 20# per acre. Not worth the effort and fuel.
Without much clover/legume, fertilizing the snot out of fescue will really put on the growth.

dun



redangus":1uohdp4z said:
It will obviously depend on the grazing pressure of your pastures, but this is what I have learned.

In the late summer, have some pasture that your cattle does not have access to. For bermuda, brush hog rather closely and then fertilize 150# of ammonia nitrate in mid August. Do the same for fescue, but wait until September before you mow and fertilize. The studies I have seen in Arkansas shows 16-20% protein and at least 60% TDN on these stock piled grasses.

Also, I have heard using electric fencing to allow pastures to grow. For instance, keep cattle on one end of your field where water is available. Let the cattle graze the grass till it's relatively short. Then, move the fencing back to allow them to the fresh vegetation. Repeat this process until you run out of room. The fresh vegetation will always be better than any hay you might feed...alfalfa excluded.
 

TexasCountryWoman

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I rotate my pastures generally most of the year. I am rejuvenating the old family ranch and much of the original coastal is long gone and my cows simply graze on a flower meadow mixed with regular Bermuda, Bahaya (sp), and the youpon and forest trees. I open gates to patches that have been closed to them for lengths of time during the winter (and other parts of the year) and feed them round bales of coastal at $25/bale only during the end of November til the first of March. I often run my donkey herd and horses together with my cows in the winter (convience) and that makes it difficult to keep exact records on how much hay just the cattle eat. (It seems the horses out eat them all and the donkeys can actually go all winter with no hay, just graze). Ice and snow are not an issue here and some winters there is no hard freeze to kill insects. A good winter for us is one good hard freeze to kill bugs then we are satisfied that the next year is not going to be real bad with bugs. We are building new fences now and hopefully there will be more organization from now on. We hope to aquire a tractor soon which drastically help around here with pasture improvement.

Also, I have never heard it called a "BRUSH hog" before, around here and anywhere else I've heard mention, it's a "BUSH hog". Just noticing regional differences.
 

TheBullLady

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If you time it just right, and the weather cooperates, you can get by with little or no hay here in Central Texas.

The past few years have been relatively mild, so we've had an abundance of clover in the pastures. Then there's the perenial favorite, "rye grass" that the cows love, and really does well if we get some early cool weather. If you plant oats or wheat over your coastal pastures, you've got good grazing from December through about May 15th.

Of course it all sounds good on paper, but there are a lot of variables here!
 

Ann Bledsoe

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Gotta question for you DR

We're moving to about 10 miles north of Okeechobee, the move is planned for early next spring, although the buyer on this place wants to push it up to January.

The place we bought down there is basically a hammock -- beautiful oaks, tall pines, and lots of palmetto.
We plan on going in and clearing several acres for the cattle, removing the pines in their area, leaving the oaks, and leaving some of the palmetto. The soil (if you can call it that) is sand.
What would be the best grass to put in for year round grazing?
I've been told that Bahia mixed with Bluegrass will give good grazing all year, but would like some information from someone experienced with raising cattle in the area.
(also keep in mind that I keep a few Miniature Jerseys for home milk production and raise a beef calf or two)

Thanks for any help

Ann B



D.R. Cattle":v3xj2vet said:
Year round grazing....ahh the beauty of Florida.
 
A

Anonymous

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jt":16nw0y9p said:
Weaver":16nw0y9p said:
Live in southern Illinois and don't like to feed hay because of the expense. We try to graze year round and last winter there was only about seven to ten days that the cows couldn't graze because of snow/ice so we got by with feeding 70 cows 15 round bales over the winter. We don't expect this every year though.

weaver,

at what capacity are you stocked with cattle to allow enough stockpiling of grass to graze through the winter?

i have never tried cutting back my herd size to have more winter grass, but have often thought about it. do you build up your herd in the summer and then thin out in time for enough grass to grow? just curious as to the best way to go about this.

thanks

jt

We have about 200 acres of semi-reclaimed coal strip mine hills for 70 cows mostly in fescue with some sweet and red clover mixed in. The ground has too many rocks and obstacles in it to bale what is not being used. It is split into three pastures each 60-70 acres. We fertilize in the spring with urea and then whatever pasture we are going to run them on during the winter, we graze it down in July and early August and then fertilize in late August with a urea/DAP/potash and don't put them on it until around December or the other pastures are clipped down. By the time spring rolls around the pastures are getting pretty low. We keep the same number of cows year round on the pasture. We don't have as many cows as we could run if we fed hay in the winter, but the way we do it we can feed 2 cow for a year compared to what some people pay for the winter supply of hay for one cow.
 

hillbilly

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Brush hog is a brand name of a rotary cutter.

Here in SW missouri stockpiled fescue will kill down [loose its nutritional value] in mid to late Jan. They still prefer it to round bales but you should put out hay and energy supp. through calving time.

I would think down in Ark. where youre at you should be able to go longer.
I'm really talkin out my rear here because we feed hay all winter because we run out of grass about 4 to 6 weeks after it stops growing.

william
 

dun

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I know that the quality decreases, but we don't feed supplements and the girls eat stockpiled fescue until about a week or two before calving. They all gain weight during the winter.

dun

hillbilly":1e9okj71 said:
Brush hog is a brand name of a rotary cutter.

Here in SW missouri stockpiled fescue will kill down [loose its nutritional value] in mid to late Jan. They still prefer it to round bales but you should put out hay and energy supp. through calving time.

I would think down in Ark. where youre at you should be able to go longer.
I'm really talkin out my rear here because we feed hay all winter because we run out of grass about 4 to 6 weeks after it stops growing.

william
 

TexasCountryWoman

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I feed more hay than I need to because I like to keep them fat in the winter. I never feed range cubes or any sort of feed. Just clean water and mineral block, unimproved pasture and coastal hay in the short winter. I have had some beautiful winter wheat pastures before but I had trouble keeping the donkey herd out and the rich grass foundered serveral of them. Donkeys need a "poor" diet so to speak. But this is a solvable problem with our ongoing fencing projects. We lost a nice bull last summer to the large adjoining ranch behind us and we had to redo our whole back stretch (straight through the dense woods) before buying our new bull.
 

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