Damage I Can Live With
y recent post on outdoor feeding in two-week paddocks raised a few questions. I moved the cows today to the next two-week, two acre paddock and took advantage of a dry day to snap some photos of the first feeding paddock. Cool and brisk, the fence building, trough and mineral box moving kept me warm. As I write this Saturday evening, snow flurries are swirling around.
Posting this is good for me too, the camera doesn’t catch everything, but my time on this land has a way of blurring in my mind, and dated photos are one of the best records. Digital cameras are a great farming tool, I do miss my film camera a bit, but not too much.
So, here we have it. This is how the pasture looked today after two weeks of winter feeding. I can’t honestly say there is no impact, but there is an upside, namely the manure and urine the cows left behind. We feed in a different spot each day, but sometimes a flake or two will fall on a cow pie and that hay gets left by the cows and will become part of the fertilizer cycle as well.
This is the impact from two weeks of entering and leaving the field in our 4 x 4 pickup. This has been one of the wettest years on record here, so you can see what well-drained soil and good sod can take.
This is the extent of our pugging. The water trough is a high use area. Opposite from our summertime management strategy of moving the trough each day, I use a larger trough and leave it in one place. The soil is wet, moving the trough each day this time of year would give me 14 spots like this. I can’t reiterate enough, rotational grazing has to be a flexible system in your mind, what works in one season may not be the best scenario in another.
The new paddock today. The cows are choosing a little green before cleaning up their hay. Just the fact that we have grass to graze in late December still continues to blow me away. Thank you cows, and thank you rotational grazing!