The End of the Stockpile

How much of your farm should you stockpile for winter? 30%? 50%?

All of it. The whole thing. Manage your grazing throughout the season so everything that is not being eaten is recovering then nibble through it all winter. Sure, I set aside portions of my farm to remain ungrazed for extended periods of time but that’s not to save forage…well, we do save forage but that’s not the point. The point is to allow those grasses to come to full maturity. To provide habitat for wildlife. To put down deep roots. To spice things up biologically in the pasture.

It is the eve of April and I’m just about out of grazing. Friday evening we walked the cows up out of the pasture and parked them in the barn for the weekend. I don’t like having my cows in the feedlot. They don’t seem to like it either. It creates a lot of work for us and I don’t feel like they get everything they need. But it gave me a chance to run some Basic H through them to see what all the fuss is about.

Sunday afternoon I built them a new grazing area east of the pond. I had to bring the mineral feeder, posts, reels and trough up from the bottom. Everything you need for grazing in a handy little kit.


The east side of the pond hasn’t been grazed since ….spring of 2012? Gosh. I need more cows. It’s a mix of everything over there. The pine trees are dying from the pine borer. There is 6′ tall Johnsongrass still standing and who knows what else. Should be an adventure to graze over there.


We’ll catch the edge of the alfalfa field as we go. I am a little concerned about that but our daily moves should keep things in shape. The mix of green and brown should keep the cow manure from getting too runny. A week here, an optional week at the far East side of the property and we’ll need to start racing through the pastures. It’s only 37 days until we are scheduled to begin calving and I think the dairy cows need to put on a little fat. Big spring pastures + fast moves = fat cows. Walt Davis said to make sure the cows had at least 30 days of green grass before calving to get them in shape. I’m close. I’ll have to time things a little differently next year.

The grass should really start to grow this week. I’m counting on it.

3 thoughts on “The End of the Stockpile

  1. That is a pretty nifty little “build a paddock” kit you have there..
    Salatin calls it ballet of the pastures, but that sounds to quiet somehow. Your description, with all anxiety of getting enough fat on the pregnant cows, keeping guts balanced on the spring growth, and then the race to keep pace with growing pasture through the summer (and you haven’t reached the concern about drought or heat yet), just seems way more loud and discordant than the word ballet implies.
    On the other hand, thinking through the ballet music I know, there is plenty of pieces with conflict, banging and crashing, angst and what have you. Maybe it is apt after all.

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