Intensive grazing

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Cross-7

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I may be a little bit hippie and didn't know it.
I really don't like to use chemical and can't due to crops close by.
There are a few guys on FB that I follow that manage big places.
They post pictures of pasture before and after grazing and after its grown back.
Places where they had lots of weeds they'll put 500 or more head on a 10 acres or so and move them when it's all grazed or trampled down.
They may move twice a day or every couple days depending on the forage.
When they move off it looks like hell but after its grows back there are fewer weeds.
Over time they have almost eliminated weeds.
I'd like to try it but my water would be an issue and I have a job that's pays the bill so I can afford cows :D
I really don't have the time, water and shade to do it.
But it is interesting
 

angus9259

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I intensively graze - not quite that intensive - and it is all about water and shade. It's also about access. It's much harder to treat animals that become ill or calving or doing AI when they are 5 pastures away.

That said, the principle you mention re weed control is not a ton different than brush hogging between stays in a particular pasture. Preventing the cattle from eating things right to the dust helps preserve the grass itself and prevents the potential for bloat when you move them to a lush pasture after theyve been on a drier one. That said, each year is also different depending on rain. Not much rain this year - but the cattle are FAT. They never get to a stalky field. If it were dryer, I'd be putting out hay though. If it were wetter, I'd be brush hogging more. It is an art.
 

ClinchValley

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We are in the same boat. Water and shade are the two biggest limiting factors for us. We have ritchie tanks in the fence line on two hay fields. I plan to put N on the fields after the next cut and stockpile. I'm going to try daily moves to see how long i can stretch them out.

I got two 1/4 mile rolls of temp fence on clearance and a bunch of step in posts for free. I'm really looking forward to trying it out.

Since we started rotating pastures I have been amazed. Folks around here have noticed how much better the place looks. So doing it intensively has got to be magical. LOL.

We spray herbicide. My gut tells me its not good. But we had to get ahead of the weeds. Hope to slack off in a year or two.

Angus9529 - It is definitely an art. Huge learning curve and one hell of a balancing act. One day we might have it partially figured out…maybe.
 

TexasBred

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I know several 500 cow dairies that do this. Divide there place into multiple pastures and simply rotate cattle and irrigate. Requires water and quite a bit of fertilizer as well to keep it working.
 
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Cross-7

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TexasBred":1fu447hw said:
I know several 500 cow dairies that do this. Divide there place into multiple pastures and simply rotate cattle and irrigate. Requires water and quite a bit of fertilizer as well to keep it working.

These guys are in others states, different climates and etc.
One in California, another is the Winecup Gamble ranch.
Sage is a problem on the Winecup.
Thistle and others weeds I don't recognize in California.
They say they use zero fertilizer or chemical.
Fertilizer comes from the manure, urine and trampling of organic matter.
The rotation frequency depends on rainfall, but these are big places with lots of ground.
But they say they are running more cattle and pastures are improving and increasing stocking rates.

I find it interesting
 

ClinchValley

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In theory, once the fertility was correct, it should stay correct. Assuming nutrients were spread evenly on the ground they were consumed from.

Where haying removes nutrients, grazing should cycle them right back to where they came.

Is my theory somewhat right? I am not sure.
 

ClinchValley

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Since MIG is the attempt at imitating cycles of nature. What replenishes soil N?

Legumes, poop, decomposition of organic matter, worm castings? What else? Anyone know how it works in nature? And how is it accomplished without apps of N on pasture? Spread litter/manure?
 

Jogeephus

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ClinchValley":iydoqfwc said:
Where haying removes nutrients, grazing should cycle them right back to where they came.

Is my theory somewhat right? I am not sure.

You are right and if you consider the growth, consumption and quality of your forage you might be surprised to find there is no need to apply N to your pastures. Rainfall, especially during during thunderstorms, can give you around 12 lbs of N per acre for each inch of rain and if you have legumes like clover in your pastures which annually provide 90-120 lbs/acre of N you can meet all your nitrogen needs naturally.

The art is to grow just enough forage to meet the needs of your cattle while not letting the forage get rank so the cattle are constantly eating new growth. This, I think, is the basis behind intensive grazing but I think intensive grazing can be over rated if you are turning your cattle out on rank forages you've pushed to hard. This is why we hay the excess so the quality doesn't turn to filler and the cattle need to be fed because in doing this you are not only wasting money on fertilizer but are also having to spend money on feed supplements.
 

HDRider

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angus9259":3mzyratn said:
I intensively graze - not quite that intensive - and it is all about water and shade. It's also about access. It's much harder to treat animals that become ill or calving or doing AI when they are 5 pastures away.

That said, the principle you mention re weed control is not a ton different than brush hogging between stays in a particular pasture. Preventing the cattle from eating things right to the dust helps preserve the grass itself and prevents the potential for bloat when you move them to a lush pasture after theyve been on a drier one. That said, each year is also different depending on rain. Not much rain this year - but the cattle are FAT. They never get to a stalky field. If it were dryer, I'd be putting out hay though. If it were wetter, I'd be brush hogging more. It is an art.
I just call mine rotational grazing, nothing intense about it. My numbers are too low, and I am not prepared to ramp up yet.

I have mine chopped up in 7 acre (+/-) paddocks. I leave them on until they tell me they are ready to move. Not joking, I can tell by how they act if they want to move. Two things I have discovered on my short journey is exactly what you pointed out, getting them back to the pen, and some paddocks don't have much shade.

My ground was old and tired, and I am trying to nurse it back. Making progress, but I'd guess I am at least two years away from being close to where it needs to be.

Solar chargers and poly wire are great. I leave a lot of the paddocks semi fixed, but will reduce sizes as I improve my management.
 

kenny thomas

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I am like that also. I rotational graze with each pasture getting a 5 week rest between grazing. I started with a very poor pastures and with several years of work I'm getting there.
 

angus9259

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Jogeephus":3owtfoyv said:
The art is to grow just enough forage to meet the needs of your cattle while not letting the forage get rank so the cattle are constantly eating new growth. This, I think, is the basis behind intensive grazing but I think intensive grazing can be over rated if you are turning your cattle out on rank forages you've pushed to hard. This is why we hay the excess so the quality doesn't turn to filler and the cattle need to be fed because in doing this you are not only wasting money on fertilizer but are also having to spend money on feed supplements.

Lot of truth in here. Especially about haying. We brush hog because the hay we would pull off is too little to afford the equipment.

That said - every year is different depending on weather. This year, there would be nothing to hay and only weeds to brush hog. Last year, probably could have hayed out two fields. But, you're right. Need to keep the cattle moving so they don't start eating re-growth and leaving the ripe stuff - then cut, hay, hog, whatever is ripe.
 
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Cross-7

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I have 5 pasture now and would like more but water and shade are an issue.
I have each pasture connected to this area for water.
It is about an acre and getting abused.
Just like right now instead of out in the pasture grazing they continually graze in there.
When I rotate to the next pasture they camp out and still graze around the water.
It's mostly bermuda so it can stand abuse better than native grass but I'm going to have to start pumping water to them I guess.
They water early mornings and evenings.
If I had the time I'd let them water them push them out to pasture during the day, but with a job I don't have time in the mornings
Edit
All the dead brush is mesquite I've sprayed but haven't had mulched
 

TexasBred

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Cross-7":7cdy7pps said:
TexasBred":7cdy7pps said:
I know several 500 cow dairies that do this. Divide there place into multiple pastures and simply rotate cattle and irrigate. Requires water and quite a bit of fertilizer as well to keep it working.

These guys are in others states, different climates and etc.
One in California, another is the Winecup Gamble ranch.
Sage is a problem on the Winecup.
Thistle and others weeds I don't recognize in California.
They say they use zero fertilizer or chemical.
Fertilizer comes from the manure, urine and trampling of organic matter.
The rotation frequency depends on rainfall, but these are big places with lots of ground.
But they say they are running more cattle and pastures are improving and increasing stocking rates.

I find it interesting
Cattle won't eat grass that grows up a week after they crap on it....nor two weeks. Maybe next year.
 

kd4au

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Jogeephus":y6wc15io said:
ClinchValley":y6wc15io said:
Where haying removes nutrients, grazing should cycle them right back to where they came.

Is my theory somewhat right? I am not sure.

You are right and if you consider the growth, consumption and quality of your forage you might be surprised to find there is no need to apply N to your pastures. Rainfall, especially during during thunderstorms, can give you around 12 lbs of N per acre for each inch of rain and if you have legumes like clover in your pastures which annually provide 90-120 lbs/acre of N you can meet all your nitrogen needs naturally.

The art is to grow just enough forage to meet the needs of your cattle while not letting the forage get rank so the cattle are constantly eating new growth. This, I think, is the basis behind intensive grazing but I think intensive grazing can be over rated if you are turning your cattle out on rank forages you've pushed to hard. This is why we hay the excess so the quality doesn't turn to filler and the cattle need to be fed because in doing this you are not only wasting money on fertilizer but are also having to spend money on feed supplements.
Rain is the best fertilizer you can have. Without it nothing will grow anyway.
 

jdg

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When i switched from Ivermectin to Cydectin, my dung beetle population slowly returned, and my cow patties broke down extremely fast and didn't cause the wasted grass splotches i had before that were bright green and overgrown and everywhere. Today, i'm able to move cattle away from those worm outbreaks, and only worm my calves once, and also only cows/bulls that appear wormy. My grazing program depends on how much grass and time i have during the season. I move as intensively as daily, and as slowly as weekly. Having water infrastructure, planned shade for the different paddocks, and perimeter electric fencing makes it all possible. My cattle are easier to handle now, and i can grow more grass. I bushhog strategically to effect weed and grass growth/reproduction, and only make hay on the hay fields that i also graze. (Tift 85) I agree with Jogeephus, once you get your pastures un-addicted to chemical fertilizer, and re-populated with healthy soil biology and a mix sward of grasses, forbs, and legumes, your soils become more resilient, nutritious, and profitable. It ain't easy or quick, but very rewarding. Every farm is different, although principles often apply across the country.
 

Texas PaPaw

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Would suggest reading Greg Judy's book "Comeback Farms" Is very good book explaining how to do what you have in mind. He explains how to do intensive grazing using existing water sources and even has some good diagrams that show how to set up the fences.

https://www.stockmangrassfarmer.com/Sto ... ductID=717

Also suggest googling "batt latch". This is gate latch that releases the slinky type spring gates at whatever time you set it for. Allows cattle to move to next paddock without anyone being there at the desired time. Think they could be helpful in your situation.

Just another 2 cents worth.
 

Texasmark

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Long post. My 2c.

Having watched my cows for some 35+ years, they have a very sensitive, meticulously inquisitive, searching, tongue that can get in a mixed field and selectively move around the weeds to pick out the succulent, tender, tasty, grass shoots. No weed control with my cows. 2-4-D when needed and heavy mowing for a season is what works for me.

If you are a purist, then heavy mowing and give it 2 seasons. I got into 2-4-D as a measure of last resort when I first bought this farm. It did what I couldn't do otherwise and it has been at my side when needed ever sense.

On rotational grazing, results speak for themselves. If you choose to dig deeper, plenty of papers from ag. schools, on the www explaining how a/the plant works and what works for it. Rotational grazing is what makes it happy.
 

jdg

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Here's a pic of the grazing pivot I set up 8 years ago. Design based on New Zealand grazing dairies. This pic was from summer. The field is roughly split between T-85 bermudagrass and annuals. Water troughs are heavy use areas set up on fencelines in most paddocks. Pivot had steel posts bent at an angle to push down two-wire electric fence.
 

ga.prime

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Cross-7":dswg6fk9 said:
TexasBred":dswg6fk9 said:
I know several 500 cow dairies that do this. Divide there place into multiple pastures and simply rotate cattle and irrigate. Requires water and quite a bit of fertilizer as well to keep it working.

These guys are in others states, different climates and etc.
One in California, another is the Winecup Gamble ranch.
Sage is a problem on the Winecup.
Thistle and others weeds I don't recognize in California.
They say they use zero fertilizer or chemical.
Fertilizer comes from the manure, urine and trampling of organic matter.
The rotation frequency depends on rainfall, but these are big places with lots of ground.
But they say they are running more cattle and pastures are improving and increasing stocking rates.

I find it interesting
The perpetual motion machine.
 
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