Harrowing pastures

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plumber_greg

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I'am new to this board compared to some people, but this weekend I harrowed all of my cow turds in my pastures. Does this pay,or is it something for someone like me to do on my days off? Fuel is still expensive. I know all about busting up the patties cuz' of worms and such, but does it pay? I rent the harrow from my NRCS office for $100 a day, a new one is $4300, so that's a no brainer. Is it worth my time, or should I just go to work. Thanks for everyone's thoughts, gs
 

ga. prime

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Harrowing doesn't spread the manure. A no-cost home made tire drag does spread the manure. Harrowing at any cost -bad deal. Dragging with home made tire drag - good deal.
 

Angus Cowman

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Greg I assume you are talking about a flex tine chain harrow if so yes they do a good job of spreading the manure and what you spend you will more than make up in benefits to your grass and soil

you can build a tire drag out of used tires for less than the $100 you spend renting the flex harrow and it will accomplish the same results
 

Cowdirt

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plumber_greg":13nw95d9 said:
I'am new to this board compared to some people, but this weekend I harrowed all of my cow turds in my pastures. Does this pay,or is it something for someone like me to do on my days off? Fuel is still expensive. I know all about busting up the patties cuz' of worms and such, but does it pay? I rent the harrow from my NRCS office for $100 a day, a new one is $4300, so that's a no brainer. Is it worth my time, or should I just go to work. Thanks for everyone's thoughts, gs

Plumber, I chained a 16ft wire panel crossways behind my atv (350 Honda Rancher, 2x4 drive). I tied a 6x6 treated pine on the panel near the front. It did a good job and the job goes very fast.
 

novatech

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Dragging or chaining has brought up another question for me. I understand that dragging is beneficial in that it helps break up the cow patties and disrupts the parasite cycle.(Or are we actually spreading them?) Are we doing as much harm as good? For one the nitrogen in cattle manure volatilizes rapidly. So by spreading it you increase the volitalization. Secondly, dung beetles use the patties as homes and as a food source. By dragging we destroy the habitat and therefore the nitrogen and other nutrients are not carried down into the soil?
Here is an article about the dung beetle that I found interesting. http://attra.ncat.org/attra-pub/dungbeetle.html
 
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plumber_greg

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I do use a flex tine harrow, and the panel idea is a good one. I had heard of it before, just forgot I knew that. Just wondering, how late in the year is too late. The main thing would be, when does it do damage to the clovers,etc. Can you harrow it too early? I know if the patties are froze you ain't doing any good, but does it do the same things if you harrowed in Jan. versus March? Thanks gs
 

BeefmasterB

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novatech":29kof5xo said:
Dragging or chaining has brought up another question for me. I understand that dragging is beneficial in that it helps break up the cow patties and disrupts the parasite cycle.(Or are we actually spreading them?) Are we doing as much harm as good? For one the nitrogen in cattle manure volatilizes rapidly. So by spreading it you increase the volitalization. Secondly, dung beetles use the patties as homes and as a food source. By dragging we destroy the habitat and therefore the nitrogen and other nutrients are not carried down into the soil?
Here is an article about the dung beetle that I found interesting. http://attra.ncat.org/attra-pub/dungbeetle.html

I hear that coffee they serve over at the Bucaneer is some weird stuff ;-). In any case you might want to set aside an area then, just for the dung beetles. Could be a little market for them!

While the nitrogen in the cow dung might volatize a bit, I would think that the manure would still help to condition the soil if spread out. If it could be spread while fresh then the nitrogen would spread too and still benefit the surrounding area.

I have used the cattle panels (heavy wire type) as a drag but you have to rig them in a way that they dont't fold or bend too easily. I placed weights along the front and sides, up on top of the panel, so as to prevent permanent bending from the likes of hitting ant mounds and other obstacles. It worked pretty well and spread the dung efficiently. I have also chained a bunch of old tractor tires together and drug the set behind the tractor. Those tires take a whole lot of abuse and knock down those ant mounds too!
 

SRBeef

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I have pastures that I subdivide with an electric cross wire advanced every 5-7 days or so depending on the season, grass etc.

When I get to the end of the pasture and move the cattle to another, I drag it with a Wingfield harrow.

I don't want damage the new growth so I try to get in there quickly after moving the cattle. I find the drag spreads the manure patties and fertilizer value from them. Dragging is also supposed to keep some diseases down. You do not want to drag a pasture when there are cattle in it or coming to it soon.

The main benefit I see is that with dragging and a few WI rains afterwards the cattle don't have the 1 foot radius avoidance zones around old cow pies the next time in the pasture. This increases the growth by spreading the fertilizer and provides more useful grass by eliminating the patties that cows will not graze around.

You want to be careful not to be driving all around the pasture with a heavy tractor and drag when the ground is too wet to be out there or you will cause some compaction.

In intensive grazing I think you almost have to drag the pasture or the manure builds up too much.

Here is a link to some articles on the Wingfield harrow.

http://www.wingfields.com/harrowarticles.htm

I use the 10 ft 3 point mounted which is more controllable on my hills and can lift for transport down lanes etc. If I had larger flatter pastures connected for transport with wide gates I think I would go with a trailed version of the same 10 ft drag that could be pulled by a UTV. Handling is a problem with a larger trailed drag however.

I also drag areas after spreading dry fertilizer on top from a spinner cart so that there is at least some incorporation or covering of the fertilizer.

These are NOT tillage tools. you can put some weight on them such as tires but basically they are for light spreading and dethatching etc. They are great for cleaning up and leveling a gravel drive! jmho.
 

Alberta farmer

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Used to do the chain harrow thing on all the areas where we winter feed. Got lazy and quit. Let that area rest most of the year instead. The growth can be unreal. Grass thick and tall. I've often found being lazy can really benifit the bottom line!
 

Cowdirt

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Alberta farmer":1ksvdu17 said:
Used to do the chain harrow thing on all the areas where we winter feed. Got lazy and quit. Let that area rest most of the year instead. The growth can be unreal. Grass thick and tall. I've often found being lazy can really benifit the bottom line!


Farmer, being lazy has REALLY helped my bottom line lately. Maybe helped is the wrong word. Gained 15lbs and its all on the bottom line.
 

Steve Wilson

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We pull a 24 foot flex tine harrow with a Massey Ferguson 165 diesel. Covers a lot of ground at a time and at a fairly decent speed. Figure about 4 hours for 50 acres. Unless TopHand is at the controls, then it's only half an hour or so and the rest of the afternoon spent sitting on the tailgate eating fried chicken and drinking iced tea.

Most of our pastures are predominantly tall fescue, and we believe that the fescue responds favorably to being aggravated now and then. It breaks up the thatch layer, scratches the surface a bit, which increases aeration and water penetration rates somewhat. Also does a marvelous job of spreading the manure patties. If you catch the moisture just right, they almost explode into tiny pieces when the harrow hits them.

Two issues regarding the timing of harrowing though; new clover and/or grass seedings and grass heights. Once the grass gets 4 inches tall or so, it is too late. The harrow just doesn't get down the the ground and scratch it up as well. And you start seeing grass blades laying around that were pulled off. You will know when it is too tall.

I broadcast red clover back in early January. Before I started harrowing those pastures two weekends ago, I spent about an hour on my hands and knees checking to see if any of the clover had sprouted yet. It hadn't, though I'm pretty sure it has by now or will be any day. We had a nice rain yesterday evening and more expected Friday and Saturday. As I said; on hands and knees wearing my reading glasses. Any tiny clover plant was suspect. I would wiggle it around until I could trace it down the the soil line. All were attached to branchlets of existing clover plants. If you harrow the field before new seed has sprouted, you are OK. But once it comes up, you would kill it with a harrow. Any baby plant those teeth ran over would be yanked out, kinked or broken. I would even be cautious in harrowing any new seedlings until they were fully established. I don't think dragging tire drags around on seedlings would be too good of an idea, plants are way too delicate at that stage to stand any abuse.

Hope this helps a little,
 
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plumber_greg

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We had 2and 1/2 inches of rain Monday nite. Probably killed all my dung beetles, but the pastures are looking good today with the sunshine we had most of the day. I'm gonna' keep harrowing every year. gs
 

Steve Wilson

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Greg,

We noticed a difference last year in the pastures that had been harrowed. Not right away, but later in the season the harrowed ones were taller. Should have put that in my original post.
 

kerley

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I bought a fourteen foot x six foot cattle gap two years ago. When it was delivered it was not what I thought it would be. It did not fit and was not of quality design. I paid for it as agreed but could not use it.
I have to tell you it made one fine manuer and ant hill drag. It is heavy and works well. So in the long run I did OK.
Tom
 

jcummins

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Have little money and thinking of making a drag.

Thinking of welding together a frame from old pipe., then welding a 16ft cattle panel to the bottom. Would this accomplishment much? Would it hold up….or would the welds be forever breaking, and I’d just end up with a twisted panel? Also thinking of tying on old tires on top of all this. Opinions?

What if I double the frame to add another section behind, so I’d be pulling two 16ft sections back to back? Not sure if that would get unwieldy.
 

1982vett

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jcummins":2hy3ohgl said:
Have little money and thinking of making a drag.

Thinking of welding together a frame from old pipe., then welding a 16ft cattle panel to the bottom. Would this accomplishment much? Would it hold up….or would the welds be forever breaking, and I’d just end up with a twisted panel? Also thinking of tying on old tires on top of all this. Opinions?

What if I double the frame to add another section behind, so I’d be pulling two 16ft sections back to back? Not sure if that would get unwieldy.

I welded a cattle panel on an old 10' pipe gate to pull behind my drill when planting oats. This one is light weight and I used an old bent up cattle panel. It has held up. Instead of building a solid 16' drag, I'd say make a series of 3 or 4 samller sections, they will follow the contour of the ground better than solid frame. Something like this:
 

jcummins

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Reason I was thinking of the solid frame is to help hold tires in place for weight on the panels, and the frame itself adding weight.

I recently dragged 5 or 6 cattle panels from the end from one spot that I didn't want them to another that I was going to store them. I noticed....where I dragged them, it had some effect, but still seem to want some weight. And that was 6 together I was pulling with a strap. That got me to thinking.

I have a few old oil field pipes with valves etc....wonder if I would just use four and make a solid frame say about 4x4....and put three of those behind the pipe like you drew? I'm thinking just the panel weight by itself isn't going to be enough weight.
 

1982vett

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Making the sections smaller will be a little more labor but with the smaller the sections you will have less skipping over of the low spots. Course the smaller sections will have less of a leveling effect, but that is not really to purpose dragging pastures other than trying to knock down fire ant mounds. I wouldn't worry to much about the cattle panels coming apart. Over time they might but you can always cut the old one out and add a new one.

A little more of my thinking... Addressing what to make the frames out of.... Keep in mind, the heavier they are the more aggressive they will be and more damage can be done to the turf. If you are dragging just to scatter manure they don't need to be all that heavy. If you are trying to knock down fire ant or gopher mounds a little more weight would help. A few crossmembers in the frame will add weight and help keep the cattlepanel flatter
 

jcummins

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Yes…fire ant mounds, and hog damage. Couple of years ago, we were all remote from the pasture, and didn’t pay attention to what was happening. I was working out of state. Really had hogs come in and roughen up the pasture quite a bit. So initially, I’m wanting to smooth down a rough pasture. It really ought to be disked, but I don’t want to go that far with it.

Besides just harrowing…..I was thinking of added ‘teeth’ of sorts to this frame I mention.
I’ve got 17 of the metal teeth, and 9 or so of the springs….see below. Thought of welding the teeth to a bar of the frame, and adding a pipe I can insert the springs over and attaching also. Btw- these were ‘inherited’ from a person that left them at my house when I was working in another state. What is the actually use of these?

0327091757.jpg
 
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