PIPE DREAM FARM
MANAGEMENT INTESIVE GRAZING EXPERIMENT
This is an aerial photo of my home, known to me as Pipe Dream Farm. For over twenty years my neighbor and I had a joint venture herd of registered angus cattle. He had the land and I had the experience and skills and we shared the love of the cows. The rascal came down with Cancer and thirty days after he was diagnosed we buried him. At least he did not suffer long. Two years later I miss him still. About that time I was diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis.
Anyhow to make a long story short we dispersed the cow herd and I have a small hobby herd of three cows with calves now. We also have a couple of equines but they will not be a part of this study in any major way. They have their own area where they are rotationally grazed.
I have been practicing rotational grazing to some extent for over twenty years and have the place divided into small lots. In recent years I have subdivided lots using portable fencing. Every division gave me more benefit and ability to manage the land.
In January of 2010 I had the opportunity to meet Greg Judy and hear a presentation on how he manages pastures and makes money on cows and goats. This is no minor accomplishment.
I was inspired by what I heard and decided that the time was right for me to try to do better as well. My employer Hanover-Caroline Soil and Water Conservation District enables me to use this personal experiment as an educational tool as well.
I am working with JB Daniel, the NRCS Forage Agronomist, to do a case study and JB has already given me great guidance.
We are beginning by documenting the existing conditions.
The Ell is land that is actually owned by my neighbors estate but I still have the use of that acreage from the heirs. Similarly the paddock labeled Hermans Lot. Herman was Jack’s last Hereford bull before we switched to all angus. We built the lot for Herman to gain control of the breeding season and I housed and managed our bulls ever since and raised the heifers.
The Ell was last grazed in the fall of 2009 but after frost. We had a significant accumulation of bermudagrass over the summer when it was only lightly grazed. After frost the Bermuda was not prized by the cows and as a result a good bit of residue was left on the entire field.
This residue gives me a running start on the Judy management philosophy which is graze fast. Allow the cows to eat the chocolate and trample and fertilize the rest to add organic matter to the soil and move em on and rest the field.
Management intensive grazing is all about managing the grass and the organic matter and allowing proper growth and rest.
This field was last fertilized with bioisolids in the fall of 2008. This field is still permitted for biosolids and we anticipate another application in the fall of 2010. This is the only part of the project that is permitted for biosolids. Hopefully application will not interfere with the grazing schedule significantly.
The plan is to offer 5.4 animal units about 2000 square feet of grazing area every day and move them daily. I estimate the Ell will offer 39 days grazing.
Herman’s lot is still historically used for bulls and this past fall we had three young bulls and they grazed this and other lots pretty hard.
Again a stand of fescue and bermudagrass. The treed area is a fenced off stream that feeds the pond. There is a Mirafount frost free water trough in the fenceline but our of sight in the photo.
Hermans lot is estimated to offer 10 days of grazing.
This lot has had annual fertilizer until last year where it received none.
This field was frost seeded with Korean lespedeza on 2/27/2010
This is the front of the property and has been divided with portable fence into four lots and rotationally grazed.
The plan is to leave the center more permanent portable fence and MIG graze from gates on each end.
The front is estimated to offer 20 days of grazing.
This area has not been fertilized in three years and was limed two years ago.
This area was frost seeded with Korean lespedeza on 2/26/2010
This is the back yard field which is oddly the field behind my house.
This was used as a rotational bull lot for the last several years along with Herman’s lot and two other areas. This paddock was broadcast with ryegrass and hairy vetch in the late fall of 2009.
It has not had significant fertilizer in three years, nor lime in two years.
Estimated to have 9 days MIG.
The remaining lots along the driveway were similarly grazed and managed and are a bit wetter in wet parts of the year. They were also broadcast with ryegrass and hairy vetch in the late fall of 2009. There was germination before hard weather set in. I estimate 18 to 20 days grazing there. The trees make it difficult to estimate acreage from the aerial photo. I don’t have a current photo. The photo below shows it after our first big snow
Another significant area is known as the corner.
This .9 acre lot had cattle in it until February. Three cows with calves and one bull. This photo from 1/23/10 shows the ground cover.
This lot was broadcast to Korean lespedeza and ryegrass and vetch on 2/27/10. The corner is currently divided into two lots but is estimated to offer 18 days of MIG grazing. Pictured are Ulysses and Ursula who are both already registered and the future of my herd. They are both sired by Diamond D Sure Enough 6D.
This lot is projected to offer 18 days of MIG grazing.