Rotational Grazing Question

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Active member
Feb 11, 2005
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Southeast, Louisiana
I have been rotational grazing my ryegrass for the past 3 or 4 years and the resting of the fields has definately stretched my grazing season and allowed for better use of my forage.

However, my cows never seem to consume very evenly. Most grazing protocols seem to suggest grazing from 2 to 6 inches, which allows for the quickest recovery and highest nutritional value from the plant. But my cows seem to pick spots and eat it to the ground, while leaving other areas almost untouched. Kinda makes my fields look like they've got "mange". If I graze until its even, then they have over grazed the paddock and the whole thing is too short, and recovery is longer than it should be.

Any suggestions, comments, or other information would be appreciated.

Paddocks that are too large for the number of cows or the quantity of forage will have that affect. Soiled areas or spots with amnure accumulations will also cause it.
Put your mineral feeders on one end of the paddock from the water will help. Some of my pastures have two water tanks on each end and those are my most evenly grazed pastures. They have to wander across the paddock to graze it evenly. gs
The way to make rotational grazing very efficient (and easy) is over-stocking. Underfeed the cows but maintain top quality pasture, because they reject less of the lower-quality grass.

The alternative is to create the same effect mechanically - spell the area and cut for hay to restore an even swath. Mow either ahead of or behind the cows. Or use another group of hungry animals to clean out after the cows have gone through.
Cows in at six inches, grazing down to two? Sounds perfect to me, that's how I like the dairy herd to graze. I reckon moving the cattle every 24-hours is optimum for maintaining quality, plenty disagree in either direction.

One year we had a really good spring after spreading salt on the pastures. But I'm not sure if it was the salt that made the difference to the grazing behaviour.
I would suggest reducing the grass you give them each day. You don't say how many head you have but if they are hungry and you open a new stretch of grass there is a "mob" psychology that takes over and they eat about anything - at least that's what I see from my Herefords.

There was a stretch last summer when it was very dry and each paddock needed the maximum amount of rest to recover. Rather than give them 5-6 days worth, which let them be picky, I dropped it down to one days worth. They ate everything and trampled less.

What I have also found helps the manure pile aversion is to graze a couple paddocks inline with each other then shift them to another group of paddocks. Remove the cross wires in the first paddock and then drag it at high speed before the manure piles get too hard. This spreads them out, tends to kill some fly larvae and after a couple good rains they disappear. Next time in the pasture there is little tendency to avoid manure piles because there aren't many. This also spreads the fertilizer for the grass.

Don't ever drag a pasture with cattle in it or that they will be going to soon as this could spread disease. I drag it as soon as they leave a paddock or series.

When doing the daily moves I just advanced the lead wire each day down a rectangluar paddock then dragged the whole paddock at the end of the week.

This is a good harrow to drag manure:

Not too aggressive to destroy sod but does a nice job on manure, maybe scratch in a bit of fertilizer.

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