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.

clean Up in any Asile


November 6, 2016

After I finish picking the ear corn, I turn the cows into the field. I also turn the sows in there too. The animals eat the fodder and corn husks. They glean the field for any ears that I might have missed. They also eat the grass and clover on the field edges. There is a lot of feed in my finished field. I like to make use of every corner of my farm. The animals are also spreading their own manure, saving me some work and expending no fossil fuel in the process.

The animals walk up and down the rows eating whatever strikes their fancy. I don’t force them to clean up every dry stick. I just let them forage until the grass has been grazed off. They will then be moved off this field. They will however return many times this winter as will the draft horses. The field will be used as a sacrificial lot over winter for the animals to get exercise. They will graze the standing stalks, but mostly they will jump and play without poking holes in our meadows. This five acre plot will be plowed next spring.

There are grassy areas on both ends and both sides of the field to catch any muddy water or manure run off before it gets into the road ditches or small streams. This keep the nutrients where we want them…in the fields, not in someone’s drinking water! So, eat up gang, clean up in any aisle!

Managing Grazing
June 21, 2016, 12:32 pm
Filed under: June 2016 | Tags: , , , ,


June 21, 2016

Cows and sows graze white clover. This pasture was getting a little ahead of the sows. I turned the cows into it so as to slow the growth down a little bit. I guess manage is a better word than slow it down. I am making the best use of the pastures as they grow. Multi-specie grazing gives me a great advantage when it comes to pasture management.

The cows also help to keep the permanent horse pasture under control. The grasses grow faster than the horses can eat it. The cows stop by from time to time and spend the night there. They eat what the horses leave. I will soon mow the rest. This early summer with very little rain, makes pasture management a delicate job this season. If i graze the grass too short, I will pay all season as it struggles to grow. If I leave it go to seed, it also stops growing.

The trick is  to use as much of the grass as possible before mowing to keep the weeds at bay. So far so good, but it is only the middle of June. There is a lot of summer left for our grass. Hopefully, herd management, timely mowing and multi-specie grazing will maximize natures bounty….all while letting the animals spread their own manure!

How Now Brown Sow?
November 5, 2015, 8:12 pm
Filed under: November 2015 | Tags: , , ,

The girls enjoying supper

The girls enjoying supper

November 5, 2015

Tonight, I moved the sows from their summer pasture to a small wooded hamlet. This small forested area is of about three and a half acres. There are hickory nuts and wild apples littering the ground in this place. My foraging mothers will have a great time searching for and eating those treats. The pasture in the photo will become home to a group of young cattle, heifers and steers. There are a couple of weeks of grazing here in this paddock for those youngsters.

As we race for winter, I am glad to still have grass available to my cattle herd. The main herd of cows are grazing a lush piece of red clover, a few cowpeas and some oats. They leak a little when they cough, but they keep right on eating and smiling 😮 Our bull will go in with the mommas tomorrow. It is a little unconventional to breed at this time of year, but so far it is working well for us. We are mostly just growing our own beef anyway…and for a few customers. So autumn and winter calves work ok for us.

Our sows will get to spend the nice winter days out in the wooded pasture. I will build them a hay fort out of big round bales to hunker down in on nasty days. Mostly they will be up under the barn’s overhang, but spending days outside in the freedom of the big woodlot, pleases them. Happy sows, happy cows and less chores for me !

And the Rains Came
June 18, 2014, 9:35 pm
Filed under: June 2014 | Tags: , , , ,

Storm clouds loom in the southeastern sky

Storm clouds loom in the southeastern sky

June 18, 2014

After a couple of grueling days in the tractor seat, I beat the rain and got four acres of sorghum/Sudan grass planted. The rain chased me to the house, but the seed had all been planted 😮

It has been a very busy two days. I am pressed a bit, but making progress. I had to catch up, so no horse time on this job, but soon we will be in the hay fields, with the horses supplying the power.

I have been moving the cows every day to the horse pasture. The multi specie grazing makes use of the grass best this way. The cows eat what the horses leave. Soon we will mow the pasture to stimulate grass regrowth. The mowing also knocks back the weeds.

The cows are tonight, grazing the wooded pasture where the goats have been. Just like the horses, the goats leave lots of good grass for the cows to enjoy.

It has been a good two days too. The corn is peeking through the soil, the lambs are growing and the hay looks great. The rains are welcomed as is the little bit of rest that comes with it…although, there is always manure to take care of my down time!