RicelandMeadows


Extending the Grazing Season

sorghumsudan2020

July 20, 2020

Our pastures would have run short because of the number of livestock we are currently keeping and our lack of rain. I planned ahead, just in case,  and I am glad that I did. I planted this field of sorghum sudan grass to be grazed as needed by the sheep and steers. I put a little rape seed in the mix to add some additional feed too.

I waited until the crop was 18 inches high at its lowest spot. I then turned the flock into it. They are enjoying this fast growing forage. The other pastures are getting a rest and some much needed moisture without any grazing pressure from the sheep. I left a grassy strip all the way around this old corn field. It too provides feed of different types, much to the enjoyment of the sheep.

I have two different pastures for the horses and a couple smaller paddocks that can be utilized when needed. This field of sorghum sudan grass will grow very well and suppress weeds while feeding the sheep. It will be mowed once, grazed again, then plowed for a fall planting of speltz.

I am looking at planting a small field of oats, peas and turnips for autumn grazing for the sheep. I have room for it alongside of the current corn crop. The sheep will be able to graze the corn fodder after the corn harvest. They will get the benefit of the oats and peas, corn fodder and some grass just before the cold weather sets in. The small field of oats and turnips will also give me the opportunity to see how well the new Suffolk horses know how to plow.

There is always stuff to do, but extending the grazing season must remain a top priority. Animals grazing on farm feeds and harvesting the crop themselves, saves time and money for the farmer. It aids in increasing profitability and makes good sense from a sustainability standpoint.



Managed Grazing

cowgraze

June 7, 2016

We have had a strange spring, but it sure has made the grass grow. Today, I moved the cows into the horse pasture. The finicky horses are not the best grazers. The cows and then the sheep will help eat it down before we mow it. A good timely mowing will set back weeds and get the grass growing again.

I am amazed at just how much feed is made available this way. Seventeen “animal units” will graze this space and get all they want. An animal unit is measured as one adult cow. So, a draft horse equals 1.5 animal units. It takes five sheep to make up one animal unit. The rule of thumb is one acre of good pasture, per animal unit, per season. We are ahead of that curve thanks to good management, compost and rain.

Our stock is all in great shape after coming through a mild winter. The pastures have all been excellent. I even grazed around the buildings out back for a week, forcing the cows to clean up some grass and weeds they would usually turn their noses up at, but it helped me by lightening the workload. They ate it fine and look good for doing so.

I encourage the small or beginning farmer to mow his pastures. If that is the only thing that you can afford to do, it will help. It will make a giant difference! Your stock will appreciate it too. Even weeds are much easier eaten at the young, tender succulent stage. Mowing, is all part of good management and you , your stock and your farm will benefit from doing it.

cowhowdy