Dragging Pasture Fields Yea or Nay

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Do you drag your pastures in the Spring?

  • Yes

    Votes: 17 47.2%
  • No

    Votes: 19 52.8%

  • Total voters
    36

4hfarms

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When rotating them through the pastures, I dont have enough cows to drag fields.
I have enough other crap to do. Pun intended.
 

M.Magis

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Every place must be different. I can say with absolute certainty that if I don't drag manure piles, every single one is a 2' circle of grass that's wasted. By mid summer some pastures look overgrown AFTER I move the cows to a new one. I'm sure dividing pastures into smaller pieces to better match how many cattle are on them would help tremendously, but my place just isn't set up like that.
 

lynnmcmahan

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Every place must be different. I can say with absolute certainty that if I don't drag manure piles, every single one is a 2' circle of grass that's wasted. By mid summer some pastures look overgrown AFTER I move the cows to a new one. I'm sure dividing pastures into smaller pieces to better match how many cattle are on them would help tremendously, but my place just isn't set up like that.
Ditto........great job for teenage grandson. Watch the pies fly.
 

504RP

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If you have a lot of hay in those areas I wonder if it wouldn't be just as good to pile it up and let it compost. If you've fed outside a hay ring then you have a layer of carbon and nitrogen which is a pretty good recipe for compost IMO.
I don't think don't think you gain anything by dragging a meadow for cow piles. I feed in the winter on a 10 acre field with ring feeders that has skirts.

They clean the hay up by 95 %, very little waste that isn't converted into manure. The other 5% waste hay easily rot's before my first cutting of hay.

Any piles or patties on the field has mostly broken down by the time grass starts growing. That 10 acres produces as much hay per acre as it would had I of put 200 lbs of urea per acre.

In the past when i just sit bales out with no feeder or ring feeders with no skirts. I would have 20 to 30 % waste from a bale of hay exspecially toward the end of winter after the last bales remaining had been rained on all winter. So i would have waste piles of hay where i would. Dragging wouldn't do no good. Only option was to push it up in a pile and let it compost. Spread it with a loader the next Spring.

I know alot of people are high on these new plastic pipe ring feeders. They are pretty tuff, don't get bent up like the metal ones. But they waste alot of hay and leave a big mess where they were used to feed at during the winter. Cows flip them over and lay on what hay is left when the bale gets eaten down. I wouldn't have them if they were given to me.
 

ClinchValley86

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If you have a lot of hay in those areas I wonder if it wouldn't be just as good to pile it up and let it compost. If you've fed outside a hay ring then you have a layer of carbon and nitrogen which is a pretty good recipe for compost IMO.
I let it compost in place to be honest.

I do collect manure and hay waste from thr neighbors barn. Use it on our garden. Compost is most valuable to me. So I like your thinking a lot.

I make them clean it up for thr most part. But I do waste hay intentionally. It sure builds up the ground like nothing else. It and the poo. I much prefer unrolling when weather here will allow.
 

JRGidaho`

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I haven't drug a pasture since 2007 when diesel fuel hit its peak price.
If you have a healthy biologically active soil, manure piles break down from the bottom up. The connection between the pile and soil is key for the process to happen. When you drag the pasture to 'knock down the turds', it breaks the soil-pile contact and may actually slow the nutrient cycling process.
However, there can be other benefits to dragging pastures unrelated to manure breakdown.
1) Note the thatch disturbance in photo that was previously posted. We have measured soil temperature under undisturbed thatch and disturbed thatch. Soils definitely warm up more quickly following the drag. Some years in some locations that may be beneficial.
2) Getting better seed to soil contact by knocking plants (desirables hopefully!) and shaking the seed out of the thatch to the soil.
3) Smoothing out ground squirrel & gopher mounds.

My bottom line is I probably still wouldn't do it if it a pasture and not a hayfield.
 

M.Magis

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Like everything I’m sure, it varies by location. I can go find manure pile right now where I haven’t had cows for over a year. We don’t have dung beetles, so if the skunks and coons don’t tear open the piles looking for grubs, they take forever to break down.
 

C-Ranch

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We push all the cows off onto sage brush ground come 1 April so we can start dragging all the meadows and hay fields. If we don't and it gets hot thats normally where we see dead spots. Plus it helps knock down the gopher mounds. Seems to green up a little sooner compared to the ones we haven't drug yet. Yes its a lot of time and fuel but I can't imagine not doing it and then running hay equipment over it.
 
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LocustDaleCattleCompany

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Well I went back out in the one pasture today and took a look around. Myself and the gentleman that works for me both walked the two sides for a while and really couldn’t tell much difference in the two. We looked at lower spots, sloped spots, areas with heavier hay residue, looked for visible signs of extra growth where cow patties had been and honestly I couldn’t tell a difference. The bare areas were relatively the same side to side as far as grass or weed regrowth.

I’m pro dragging so this was a little of a surprise to me. I wasn’t looking for the untouched side to prevail but since I didn’t have to do anything to it to look the way it did it wins in my book. Now I’m going to have to decide to sell my carted chain harrow or not because I’m not seeing the benefit for my operation. On top of not seeing a discernible difference we didn’t make time and only drug 10% of our pastures this Spring.

After Shot:

5476EA31-4D76-4D8A-9704-C78C5B5D857C.jpeg

Close up of chain harrowed side:

99BF7F74-242F-432A-94DB-5E409704D615-L.jpg


Close up of side untouched:


E32A196C-3BC7-47B7-86DC-DE1859757DE6-L.jpg
 

Dave

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Every year there is 80 to 120 cows on the 35 acre front field. They are there for 3 months. This last winter it worked out to a little over 3 tons of hay fed per acre. That is a lot of solid cow pies covering the ground. Instead of having a solid 12-18 inch diameter thick spot restricting grass growth I have a bunch of 2-3 inch spots which the grass can grow around.
 

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LocustDaleCattleCompany

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Every year there is 80 to 120 cows on the 35 acre front field. They are there for 3 months. This last winter it worked out to a little over 3 tons of hay fed per acre. That is a lot of solid cow pies covering the ground. Instead of having a solid 12-18 inch diameter thick spot restricting grass growth I have a bunch of 2-3 inch spots which the grass can grow around.
In a “sacrifice” pasture or lot I could definitely still see a benefit to running a drag over it.
 

Dave

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In a “sacrifice” pasture or lot I could definitely still see a benefit to running a drag over it.
There is not the classic sacrifice fields here. We don't get enough rain for that impact to occur. It is 5 miles to the post office from my place. In the winter there is about 2,000 cows being fed on the hay fields between here and there. They are mostly gone to the hills now and wont be back until November. This next week those fields will start getting irrigated. They grow hay which will be fed back next winter. Nothing new planted. Just drug to spread the manure and watered.
 

Rancher

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I use my quad runner a spike tooth harrow with truck chains behind to break up the poop piles, works great and great grass shortly after. Of course I use 15 to 20 cows/w calves on 5 acres and move to another 5 in 10 days so lotsa heavy cow pies.
 

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