I began my cattle grazing experiment this past Sunday. Should preface it by saying that I am also using the cattle to clean up the horse lots behind the horses. The cattle on Sunday get the horse lot used during the week.
We are having a crazy week so I have not had time to take photos and document as I would like but will share some observations.
Grass has been slow to grow this spring. Barely reached ten inches at the target of beginning to graze.
Opened the first strip Sunday evening. Three cows just weaned and one bull.
Monday evening it was grazed as if it had been mown and the cows saw me walking to the area and heads went up. A simple call and they came to go to the new strip and the bull led the way.
Tuesday evening the next strip was again mown pretty clean. They left a few buttercups which are apparently pretty foul tasting and reputed to be a bit toxic. Buttercup invaded my place over the last two years and I am still figuring out if and what I want to do about it. The lot currently being grazed is mostly fescue with some clover and seedling vetch and seedling ryegrass.
Went I went to the area the heads went up and the cows called to me and started coming. Sam again was the first thru the new strip.
I walked the strip just grazed. 66 paces long and four paces wide. Roughly 165 feet by 12 feet or 1980 square feet. In walking that strip I counted 18 new manure spreads. Now my cows are not confined to the strips and still have access to the barn and to the main farm
lane and the water lane and shade in the trees. Still I think they spent a lot of quality time and left more manure in the pasture.
I think I will have a difficult time getting the area right for a small number of cattle and rapid spring growth. My area right now is too small and they had grazed it fairly closely, but grass is beginning to grow faster so more grass will mean less area needed so I may be in the right ballpark anyway. My target it to try to give them about 2000 square feet daily. I think by next week I will be close to right.
I eagerly await to observe the regrowth. Was hoping to take photos over the weekend but have to go to Roanoke for a funeral on Saturday and have to dig up a plumbing leak and try to get it fixed on Sunday.
just a brief observation from last nights pasture rotation.
I changed strips at about 6:30 pm. The cows and the bull came running when they saw me go to the area. 4th day and they are looking for me to open a gate and the bull was last and came running. 1800 lbs of bull even if he is gentle gives you pause as he gallops by you to the fresh grass.
old strip had nineteen manure splashes/piles but they were mostly in the shady end of the field. Heavy fescue over there and it had not been grazed severely.
When I went in to the house right before dark I glanced down to where they were and they had already stripped enough grass that the area had changed color. I think there was grass left but in an hour and a half that had harvested a lot.
hopefully I can work half day Friday and get some photos.
Saturday is Memorial Service for Maries Brother and Sunday have a dig up the yard plumbing project.
Yesterdays strip was again pretty well picked over. Only nine new manure piles so I think they harvested it and went and laid in the trees or in the barn. The Mineral and the fly control backrubber and such are in the cattle stall area of the barn and they go there for shelter and sometimes for shade.
They saw me heading for the area and were there when I got there to open the new strip. I am going to try to set up four new lots this afternoon and plan to make them a bit bigger. They will be harder to measure as they will be more irregular in shape. I think the cows are grazing below the 3 inch desired limit right now. The strips from Sunday and Monday are already showing signs of regrowth and recovery.
The next fields I will go to already have more grass than where we are which is different from when I laid out these first strips.
Should add, that I have not minded limiting them a bit at first for two reasons. One is we just weaned the calves and they need some time to dry off. The second is I wanted them to clean up the last of the hay in the hay ring. I looked at it last night and they have some left but I think they have eaten what they are going to eat. Think I will move the hay ring and close that field this weekend and let it begin to recover.