Grazing in the Late Fall

Cool autumn days and cold nights make this just about as easy as it gets grazing cattle here. The new heifers have settled in. The milk cows are only being milked by their calves. Everybody is in one big happy herd. Well, one big herd. Most of the pushing wars have ended though Julie and I watched a calf get pushed under the wire today. I said “most”.

So we have them bunched tight. Tight enough you can’t step in the pasture without hitting a land mine. Tight enough that they are eating everything down to a common height. We move them when they need to move giving them something that looks like this (well, they don’t all look like this)…


…leaving this behind…


I moved the cows to the spot above around 7:30 this morning. I moved them off again at noon. Moved them again at sunset. Tight bunches. Massive impact. Quick moves. Fat cows.


Well, fat most of the time. If I do my job. And we are trying to leave enough grass standing that it has a chance to recover slightly before it goes dormant. Further, we leave enough grass we can graze it again if we have to. Well, a man can have his ideals, can’t he? This fescue was grazed two weeks ago and I think it looks pretty good for November. You can clearly see old, grazed growth and fresh, green growth. You can also see how much other stuff is blanketing¬†the soil. See how shiny fescue is?


I plan my grazing out in my head well ahead of time complete with contingency plans and emergency backup plans and, of course, hay. If a bad storm kicks up we can take them to the barn. If feed runs low we can haul out some bales. But I prefer it if my cows have a nice, clean place to lie down each night, if they spread their own manure and if they at least get a bite of something green every day. But I have a lot to learn too.

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