Grazing in the Rain

The cows are busy bulldozing the ground the pigs recently worked.  This is a south-facing slope.  The fescue has recovered to 10 or 12 inches and the cows really seem to like it.  We are grazing the fescue pretty hard right now hoping to knock it back and make room for better grasses and an array of clovers.  The cows are taking quite a bit of the grass.  Normally we try to graze the top third of the plant but right now we are letting them take more.  Some of that is our ability to read the pasture, some of it is experience, some of it is intentional.  Early spring weather and fescue are both forgiving.  I am surprised how much fescue the cows are eating.  I am also surprised how much kelp they are eating.  I suppose they are using the kelp for a source of magnesium and the fescue toxicity is low in the cool weather.

Grass

The cows are hard at work but really prefer to graze in the later hours of the day.  We still feed hay in the morning and Julie is milking once/day every other day, letting the calves take the rest.  The ground is soft from pigs and rain and there is a hoof print at least every square foot and a manure pat every square yard.  I have high hopes for this slope as it recovers.  The cows get a series of 20×20 areas throughout the day, anything they grazed 4 days ago gets fenced out.  They have room to move around, find a place to lay down and always fresh grazing.  The 4-day old grazing needs to be protected as it is beginning to recover.

PastureThe cows are regaining condition quickly.  They had about 3 weeks on the eastern face of this hill ending with the top of the hill.  That was largely a stand of henbit, chickweed, fodder oats, fescue and a mix of clovers.  That hill will now rest for at least 45 days before the cows see it again.  Later in the summer it will be more like a 90 day rest period.  I look forward to grazing this again in June…before it gets too hot as there is little shade on the slope.

CowsGood night cows.  We have nearly 3″ of rain in the forecast for the next 30 hours.  I’ll do my best to keep your hooves on fresh ground and your bellies full.

After this hill we’ll take the cows back over West of the cemetery and work our way to the West.  Hopefully when we get there they will be joined by some new friends.  More on that another time.

Sorry the pictures are dark.  I had to take pictures after chores were finished…after I got off work.  Lots to do getting ready for the next round of monsoon.

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