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Cleaning up rotational grazing paddocks in late fall

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SRBeef

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I've been trying to let the paddocks get some growth back on the grass before they "shut down" for the winter. I feel that letting the grass store some reserves in the roots bring the whole pasture back better in the spring next year.

Grass growth has been slowing down. We've had a couple hard frosts here in SW WI. Trees are starting to turn. Corn and beans are still wet. Cut some firewood.

I've had one paddock that has produced particularly well this year and needed about 35 days rest to come back for this last rotation. Opened it up this afternoon and thought there were a couple of nice scenes of fall grazing in Wisconsin.



The calves especially the heifers it seems, like to graze alongside their dams. The pair above is one of my "average" cows with her heifer calf this year who looks like she may develop into an outstanding cow, better than her mom.

I think the cattle know the time is coming soon when the green stuff will be covered with the white stuff so they are keeping their heads down:



With the grass and cow condition holding up pretty well so far this fall I haven't weaned yet. Nice to see the fall colors coming in the trees. At this point I think I'll just let them clean up the paddocks down a little further than usual. There should be food reserves in the roots for spring by now. I like this time of year.

Jim
 

nap

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For that far north and two hard freezes it looks like you still have some nice pasture. What kind of grass is it? I am a huge believer in rotational grazing. Down here in Southwest Arkansas, fescue grows well throughout the winter allowing us to lengthen our grazing season. I like your Herefords.
 

redcowsrule33

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Wow - I only live ~250 miles north of there and his pics were us about 3-4 weeks ago minus the grass. It always amazes me the small change in latitude makes such a difference in growing season. Beautiful pics.
 

S&WSigma40VEShooter

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SRBeef":3kmq6mw3 said:
I've been trying to let the paddocks get some growth back on the grass before they "shut down" for the winter. I feel that letting the grass store some reserves in the roots bring the whole pasture back better in the spring next year.

Grass growth has been slowing down. We've had a couple hard frosts here in SW WI. Trees are starting to turn. Corn and beans are still wet. Cut some firewood.

I've had one paddock that has produced particularly well this year and needed about 35 days rest to come back for this last rotation. Opened it up this afternoon and thought there were a couple of nice scenes of fall grazing in Wisconsin.



The calves especially the heifers it seems, like to graze alongside their dams. The pair above is one of my "average" cows with her heifer calf this year who looks like she may develop into an outstanding cow, better than her mom.

I think the cattle know the time is coming soon when the green stuff will be covered with the white stuff so they are keeping their heads down:



With the grass and cow condition holding up pretty well so far this fall I haven't weaned yet. Nice to see the fall colors coming in the trees. At this point I think I'll just let them clean up the paddocks down a little further than usual. There should be food reserves in the roots for spring by now. I like this time of year.

Jim

Herfs herfs everywhere.
 
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SRBeef

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redcowsrule33":2bz8m73h said:
Wow - I only live ~250 miles north of there and his pics were us about 3-4 weeks ago minus the grass. It always amazes me the small change in latitude makes such a difference in growing season. Beautiful pics.

NAP & RCR - I don't know what kinds of grasses these are - it's mostly what has been growing there naturally for the past 30 or 35 years since this particular paddock has been plowed. I did interseed a red clover/pasture grass mix early spring 2 years ago after spreading lime and fertilizer per a soil test.

It is really a mix of grasses but the rotational grazing seems to make the sward thicker.

I have been careful this year to not let them graze any paddock down too low. Leaving the grass a bit longer when moving them off, dragging manure piles or mowing for weeds a couple times this summer right after taking them off of it and more rainfall this year (!) all seemed to have made the sward thick. The 30 - now 40 day rest between grazing periods may let the grass tiller and thicken.

The lighter tan spots are I believe where the clover was thicker but has died back after frost.

RCR I am as surprised as you how well the grass has held up even after some hard frosts. This is in SW WI. I think having adequate root zone fertility helps it stay stronger longer. Rotating also has a lot of benefits.

I gave the herd their weekly about 1.5 lb grain treat in the corral area in the distance. Checked out this paddock and then called them from the paddock. They came up the hill and turned into the 2-hot-wire lane and turned into this paddock though a slinky wire gate. I am amazed at how the cattle learn to navigate my lanes. They can always have access to a single waterer, the current paddock and the woods or trees for summer shade or winter wind protection.

Here are a couple pics of them coming when called. Jim



 

Cowdirt

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srbeef, great looking cattle and grass. Beautiful farm and scenery. Keep doing what you're doing, it's working great.
 
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SRBeef

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Cowdirt":2ynuw10l said:
srbeef, great looking cattle and grass. Beautiful farm and scenery. Keep doing what you're doing, it's working great.

Thank you for the kind words, CD. Jim

(now if I can just get past the startup stage and start turning a profit it will be even better! It looks like that will come though...)
 

Willow Springs

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There should be food reserves in the roots for spring by now
Actually grasses store most of their reserves in the leaves; the roots are more for water and nutrient uptake. Legimes (ie: alfalfa) store most of their nutrients in the roots. Grass pastures that are grazed down too far in the fall will have a hard time growing as vigourously in the spring especially if dry. Grazing too hard in the fall (or anytime for that matter) not only deprives the grass of it's nutrient base, but also decreases root mass which in turn limits water and nutrient uptake.

I learned that the hard way this spring; left the cows in a paddock too long last fall waiting to process them, and partially to give some broadcast seeded clover a chance to get established, then had a very dry spring. That paddock grew very slowly and poorly in the spring, got some rain in July (finally) and the clover grew beautifully. The grass didn't really recover this year though, and it only had one light grazing in the growing season.
 

RefugeRanch

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BRBeef,

Beautiful animals...can you give me more details on your farm. How many animals you have...# of paddocks...size of paddocks, etc.

Thanks for the information.
 

dun

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Willow Springs":2a8yuwx2 said:
There should be food reserves in the roots for spring by now
Actually grasses store most of their reserves in the leaves; the roots are more for water and nutrient uptake. Legimes (ie: alfalfa) store most of their nutrients in the roots. Grass pastures that are grazed down too far in the fall will have a hard time growing as vigourously in the spring especially if dry. Grazing too hard in the fall (or anytime for that matter) not only deprives the grass of it's nutrient base, but also decreases root mass which in turn limits water and nutrient uptake.

I learned that the hard way this spring; left the cows in a paddock too long last fall waiting to process them, and partially to give some broadcast seeded clover a chance to get established, then had a very dry spring. That paddock grew very slowly and poorly in the spring, got some rain in July (finally) and the clover grew beautifully. The grass didn't really recover this year though, and it only had one light grazing in the growing season.

Depends on the type of grass. Some store their reserves in the root system some in the crown.
 
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SRBeef

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RefugeRanch":28uxtoze said:
SRBeef,

Beautiful animals...can you give me more details on your farm. How many animals you have...# of paddocks...size of paddocks, etc.

Thanks for the information.

I appreciate the kind words. I am happy to share photos and general information on what I am doing. The specifics of my operation are private however.

And think about your post: you are asking for very specific information about my farming operation while you yourself do not have even the LEAST of general location information for yourself!

I also get as annoyed as Novaman describes in his location post also on this board when folks want answers to questions, or post information with absolutely NO hint of where they are located.

If people are so paranoid that they will not even list a state in their ID somewhere then maybe they should not be on the internet at all. Maybe stay inside, pull the shades and lock the doors while you are at it.

Don't mean to take it all out on you but we waste a lot of each other's time due to no location info.

Jim
 
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SRBeef

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dun":2qx7wdty said:
Willow Springs":2qx7wdty said:
There should be food reserves in the roots for spring by now
Actually grasses store most of their reserves in the leaves; the roots are more for water and nutrient uptake. Legimes (ie: alfalfa) store most of their nutrients in the roots. Grass pastures that are grazed down too far in the fall will have a hard time growing as vigourously in the spring especially if dry. Grazing too hard in the fall (or anytime for that matter) not only deprives the grass of it's nutrient base, but also decreases root mass which in turn limits water and nutrient uptake.

I learned that the hard way this spring; left the cows in a paddock too long last fall waiting to process them, and partially to give some broadcast seeded clover a chance to get established, then had a very dry spring. That paddock grew very slowly and poorly in the spring, got some rain in July (finally) and the clover grew beautifully. The grass didn't really recover this year though, and it only had one light grazing in the growing season.

Depends on the type of grass. Some store their reserves in the root system some in the crown.

If a northern grass stores its reserves in the leaves, which totally die over the winter, how does the growing plant access these reserves in the spring? Jim
 

RefugeRanch

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Jim,

Sorry for the lack of information...newbie here...my wife and I with our eight children live in mid-Michigan and have recently started a small hobby farm. We currently have seven herefords. Four steers and three heifers. We are currently looking at purchasing a 40 acre peice of property next to our current residency of which 20 are in pasture. We also have about 30 acres of legume/grass which we put up into square bales. Great character builder for my children. I am trying to find out what I might be able to accomplish with 20 extra acres of pasture. I am also a current subscriber to The Stockman Grass Farmer. Any guidance would be greatly appreciated.

Thank you in advance,

Paul
 

flyingS

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Jim,

Looks great. What a testimony for rotational grazing. I'd like to see someone try to argue with those pictures. Grass is in excellent shape, cows maybe even better. How long have you been using your system and what kind of planning system do you use? I use the Savory System. We can not run as many cows out here in the Sandhills per acre and our grass is not as vigorous. My average pasture size is between 400 and 500 acres and we run 600 to 700 cows in a herd. I would have to agree with the statement you made about root reserve. All plants draw from their root reserve when they can not absorb nutrients. Otherwise when they are grazed completely off they would die, leaving you a bare pasture. By increasing herd density, decreasing grazing periods and increasing rest periods the range condition went from poor-fair to good-excellent in two years.
 
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SRBeef

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RefugeRanch":jvwcmvbl said:
Jim,

Sorry for the lack of information...newbie here...my wife and I with our eight children live in mid-Michigan and have recently started a small hobby farm. We currently have seven herefords. Four steers and three heifers. We are currently looking at purchasing a 40 acre peice of property next to our current residency of which 20 are in pasture. We also have about 30 acres of legume/grass which we put up into square bales. Great character builder for my children. I am trying to find out what I might be able to accomplish with 20 extra acres of pasture. I am also a current subscriber to The Stockman Grass Farmer. Any guidance would be greatly appreciated.

Thank you in advance,

Paul

I knew there was something I liked about you...we have eight children also...although most are on their own now. I agree that having livestock on even a small farm and getting the children used to having their own regular responsibilities early in life that just get done every day is a great thing for kids.

About your land purchase question - if there is a 40 for sale adjoining your current property I would purchase it as quickly as possible before the seller changes his mind or the folks on the other side decide to buy it. jmho.

About carrying capacity that will vary a lot depending on what your goals are. I would buy the property first, if you can do it. Then I would decide just what part of the cattle business you want to be in. What is it you are going to sell to whom and how much of it are you going to sell each year. If you have a good nearby processor and are not too far from a city then freezer beef might make sense.

In this case I would look at greatly reducing the 30 acres of hay you put up and really manage that ground to make it good pasture. I find that I can buy better hay than I can make without the equipment expense. But then I am not around my place full time either.

Good pasture will keep getting better whereas hay depletes a field unless you apply large amounts of expensive fertilizers every year. Buying hay is also a way of buying fertilizer and fertility. I also raise corn for winter grazing and finishing but that is another topic...

I don't want to say exactly what stocking rate you could use because that depends on the state of the ground, type of ground and the weather/rainfall. If you establish what you income needs or goal is from cattle per year you can back up into how many head you need to sell or process per year and that will tell you how many head you should target. Then you choice is either to buy the land to support that many head or manage the land that you do have in a way so that you can support that many head.... not sure I'm being clear but that is one approach. Freeing up 30 acres of hay ground and adding 20 acres of good pasture in C MI (50 a) should let you have a nice profitable size herd.

And since you have lots of good labor available and some experience with cattle an n intensive rotational grazing system should work out great. It gives all involved close contact with the animals as they are moved from pasture to pasture. Herefords are a perfect breed for this type operation with their general good disposition. I would get yourself a good northern grass-oriented, good-disposition Hereford bull from Jerry Huth at Huth Polled Herefords in WI. I would also suggest that you put up good perimeter fence and subdivide the interior with single electric wires and move the wires and herd about every day at the same time.

This should be a fun and profitable family business. Share the profits with the kids in relation to the hours spent or something like that so they establish a relationship in their heads between money and work at an early age.

Good luck.

Jim
 
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SRBeef

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flyingS":1uzhuied said:
Jim,

Looks great. What a testimony for rotational grazing. I'd like to see someone try to argue with those pictures. Grass is in excellent shape, cows maybe even better. How long have you been using your system and what kind of planning system do you use? I use the Savory System. We can not run as many cows out here in the Sandhills per acre and our grass is not as vigorous. My average pasture size is between 400 and 500 acres and we run 600 to 700 cows in a herd. I would have to agree with the statement you made about root reserve. All plants draw from their root reserve when they can not absorb nutrients. Otherwise when they are grazed completely off they would die, leaving you a bare pasture. By increasing herd density, decreasing grazing periods and increasing rest periods the range condition went from poor-fair to good-excellent in two years.

We are in very different leagues as far as pasture size! However I have had other discussions with large scale ranchers west river in the Dakotas (I travel a lot as part of my day job) who confirm the same thing you do: when you rotate/limit/rest your grass "crop" improves.

I don't understand your question about what "system" I use. I am fortunate to have a very good neighbor who got me started in Hereford beef cattle about 4 years ago. While I have been in row crops for many years I am new to cattle. This means I had to start from scratch but sometimes that is an advantage...and I've had lots of good advice/help/teachers. I try ideas that seem to make sense and fit my situation. I keep the ones that work and discard or modify the ones that don't work so well for me.

It would be good to hear more about your large scale rotational grazing and its effect on your grass. Thank you for the kind words above.

Jim
 

RefugeRanch

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Jim,

Thanks for the comments. You are probably correct when it comes to buying hay verses putting your own up. What I love about putting up our own hay is the memories that are being built and the lessons learned (though time consuming). My father-in-law has asked before are you a farmer or business owner. We own our own senior housing business. The cattle being raised/sold would help off set the purchase of this land so it all has to make sence.

The twenty acre pasture is an aging alfalfa field (more alfalfa than grass though) with some different types of grasses creeping in. I am not sure if to much live alfalfa is a bloat concern for grazing cattle.

With rotational grazing supplimented by legume/hay (our other 30 acres), I would think 20 acres could support ten cow/calf pairs if not a few more? Here comes my lack of experience/knowledge.

Thanks again for the information and I enjoy reading your other posts.

Have a blessed day.

Paul
 

Stocker Steve

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Willow Springs":xkgac26r said:
Actually grasses store most of their reserves in the leaves; the roots are more for water and nutrient uptake. Legimes (ie: alfalfa) store most of their nutrients in the roots. Grass pastures that are grazed down too far in the fall will have a hard time growing as vigorously in the spring especially if dry. Grazing too hard in the fall (or anytime for that matter) not only deprives the grass of it's nutrient base, but also decreases root mass which in turn limits water and nutrient uptake.

This is true. The strongest grass I have ever seen is when you sell all your stockers in late summer and then don't graze all fall.
I have grazed old alfalfa stands down to the dirt in the fall to prepare for frost seeding and then had a really great looking (from a distance) alfalfa stand the next spring. When you get closer you see that the alfalfa stand is thin but very vigorous and that the grass is weak.
 

Angus Cowman

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flyingS":2nv97wg3 said:
Jim,

Looks great. What a testimony for rotational grazing. I'd like to see someone try to argue with those pictures. Grass is in excellent shape, cows maybe even better. How long have you been using your system and what kind of planning system do you use? I use the Savory System. We can not run as many cows out here in the Sandhills per acre and our grass is not as vigorous. My average pasture size is between 400 and 500 acres and we run 600 to 700 cows in a herd. I would have to agree with the statement you made about root reserve. All plants draw from their root reserve when they can not absorb nutrients. Otherwise when they are grazed completely off they would die, leaving you a bare pasture. By increasing herd density, decreasing grazing periods and increasing rest periods the range condition went from poor-fair to good-excellent in two years.
You said in your first post new from the sandhills that all you ran was 750 momma cows on a ranch you managed as the only employ and now you are running 6-700 cows per herd and are saying we
I guess you have a mouse in your pocket and you run 50-150 cows in 1 herd and 6-700 in another

Welcome Back ED
 

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