Talking to Your Cows

How do cows talk?  With their mouths….and with their manure.  Their manure says it has been raining a lot recently so let’s stick to the front end for today.

Talk to your cows.  They don’t mind.  But to hear them you have to listen with your eyes.  For example, here the cows told me they don’t care for fescue:

They couldn’t wait to leave the fescue behind.  They were placed on this patch at around 9:30 this morning while the day was still cool and the sun was hidden.  Just before the monsoon du jour hit we put them back in the barn and moved them to the next spot in the early afternoon:

This spot is right next to the spot they ignored, it’s just colonized by different plants, it’s a different time of day and the monsoon passed…for now.  If you look closely you’ll see white clover, dandelion, plantain, chickweed, pineapple weed, violets and a variety of grasses I’m not so good with…but little fescue.  They ate it right down to the ground.

Now, I’m not as good at speaking cow as I am with chicken or pig but I think this means they liked this spot better.  Or it may mean that early morning, pre-rainstorm fescue isn’t very tasty.  Or that they were really hungry when I let them out of the barn.  I don’t know.

Pssssst!

If any of you speak cow…specifically the Jersey dialect, please comment and let me know.

Full disclosure: I broke down and mowed behind the cows the other day.  There were tall clumps of fescue that I just couldn’t ignore.  I can only tolerate so much as I look out my window.  Bear with me.  I’m not there yet.

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2 thoughts on “Talking to Your Cows

  1. Assuming you already know this, but I do know that fescue could have endophyte fungus on it which is toxic to horses and cows (I know a bit about horses, this is the only reason I know this). I’m assuming you have smart cows and they’re trying to tell you there is an issue.

    • Yes. I’m almost certain I have endophyte-infected fescue. The cows avoid it because it is not very palatable. This is not a problem when I’m grazing a winter stockpile as frost increases the sugar content of fescue but in the summer it can really cause problems, including limiting milk production. The big problem now is preventing the fescue from out-competing the other grasses and forbs that the cows do graze. I don’t want their grazing habits to allow a lesser species to dominate.

      All that said, there are a number of grazers who have stopped clipping what the cows leave behind allowing the cows to trample the organic matter into the ground when the grazing rotation comes around again. That might be nice in the pasture but doesn’t work as well in the yard…or so my wife tells me.

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