Mowing the grass part 2

The cows, as you know, get fresh grass daily.  Recently I made their pen smaller and I’m just giving them 144 sq. ft. at a time, moving them 5 or 6 times daily.  This results in excellent trampling and manuring as the grass is sheared off evenly and the weeds are either eaten or trampled.  The picture below shows a line I missed when I moved the pen a bit too far, then shows the progress beyond.  At the end of the day I’m putting something on the order of 90,000 pounds per acre across my lawn.  I could go heavier if I had more forage but since the grass is still short I have to move them frequently.

The stem in the center of this picture was a weed I watched Mable take a bite of then spit out.  I guess once they finished eating their ice cream they went back for their veggies.

Now, I want to be clear that I’m not starving my cows into eating the weeds.  They just like to eat.  Check the rumen on this beauty.  The indentation between the last rib and the pelvis sucks in when the rumen is empty.  Flo is looking full.

So what are they eating?  Well, they’re on the old driveway and it’s a weedy mess.

Here is another shot showing the line between what they finished grazing and what they are just starting.

Now, there really is a bit more to it than just moving a panel and waiting for them to eat.  You have to read their manure to see if they are getting enough protein.  This looks pretty good.  A little dry but not bad.

It would be more soupy if the fast-growing green was all they were getting or if I had more clover mixed in my pasture (yard).  I don’t have much clover yet, there is a fair amount of old growth still standing here and they get half a bale of hay every night just to keep things regulated.

Beyond manure I smell them.  Yeah.  Smell their breath.  That tells me a lot about the condition of their rumen.  It should smell sweet.

There are more things I could check if I was more paranoid but if they are laying down, chewing their cud, their manure is pumpkin pie-ish, their breath is sweet, and their coats are shiny they are OK.  The real point is…look at that lawn!  They mowed it, set the weeds back and fertilized it all on solar power.

I think that’s pretty cool.

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2 thoughts on “Mowing the grass part 2

  1. I like how you can graze/mow/weed/fertilize such a specific area! But how do u move this so many times a day? Are u just inching it forward manually? How long do you graze in this fashion like just during the day then they go to a bigger paddock/ pasture at night to have more room to stretch out in at night then in for milking in the am then back to their “day job”? Kari

    • That was pretty much the plan for two dairy heifers. We would just pick up one side of the square and move it on, then square it back up again. But your question needs a much longer answer.

      It is all much, much easier with electric fence. Really, you just make a corridor for your cows (however many) and make break points with additional reels of fence. Imagine two parallel strings stretching across the pasture. Now, subdivide the area in between with additional strings. Make 4 subdivisions. You down?

      Now, where is the water? The water is in the first paddock with the cows. Depending on how you are managing things you could either have four days worth of grazing fenced in or you could have one days grazing separated to increase animal density. At night, the cows have whatever space they have. If you made four days worth of grazing, just move the water tank and start fresh on a new paddock after four days, always allowing the cows to return. If you divided one day’s worth, move the water every day.

      Either strategy is entirely valid and one may be more appropriate at different times of the year.

      It all depends.

      If it sounds complicated I didn’t explain it well. It really is easy. Set up an area. Give the cows access a little at a time.

      But moving metal gates around the yard got old. Fast.

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