RicelandMeadows


Pasture Management for All

September 25, 2022

Autumn is here. We are managing a few of our hay fields differently this year. In the photo, we are grazing multiple species of livestock in what would have been second cutting hay. We are not burning any high priced fuel. We are not waiting on perfect weather to make dry hay.

We have our steers, rams and young fillies, grazing off the knee deep emerald green grasses. Each animal prefers a different forb. This makes for perfect use of the growing crop. We have to keep the water trough full of fresh clean water, Mother Nature does the rest.

There is much going on in the photos. The grasses are being grazed. The animals are all getting used to each other. A natural pecking order is taking place among the animals as well as, among the different breeds. The horses seem to rule, but they are not cruel. They are just first in line. The cattle are next, followed by the sheep. The cows are watching my border collie “Sam” on the other side of the fence. They seem to always be on guard for any outsider in the pasture.

Once all the animals have had their fill, we top off the water tank. The sheep seem to know to get all they want, then a little later get a little more to hold them until chore time later in the day.

Using the hay field in this way gives us another month of grazing and not feeding hay. We monitor the grass and field conditions. We don’t want the animals poking holes with their feet if it gets too wet. This is great feed for fattening animals like the cows. It also helps to meet the protein requirements for growing horses. The rams get in great condition for the upcoming breeding season.

This is not the first time we have used this method. It is a proven way to make the best use of pastures. It keeps animals in great condition, makes introductions and introduces growing foals to strange smells, strange (to them) creatures and establish a farm pecking order that makes all things run smooth.

Missing from the photo above are the horses who were standing in the shade. They are all in there, cows, hogs, and horses. When I call the horses, the other animals move away from the gate. The horses come through and go to the barn. When I call the cattle, the hogs back away until all the cattle are through the gate. The pecking order makes this happen. The farmer benefits from the natural order of things. I encourage my readers to give this a try on your own homestead.

This makes the best use of abundance, creates a social aspect to farming and leaves a very low carbon footprint. Lastly, it makes things easy for the farmer who manages pasture for all.