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Grazing Particulars

April 22, 2011

Stockpile – north side Coyote field 4/11

If you’re doing any reading about rotational grazing, you see the words stockpiled forage mentioned frequently.  This is what stockpiled forage looks like here in the rainy Pacific Northwest after a winter of rain and snow.  In drier climes there would be more brown residual.  The green is new spring growth and the brown – last seasons growth  – is now just carbon for building topsoil.  With each bite of grass  the cows get a little brown which buffers the rumen and helps balance that new spring grass, and what doesn’t get eaten gets trampled into the soil for soil building.

This is Spot, the little scaredy cat that was missing for 3 days last spring.  She’s pretty tame now.

And Jane’s friend Lola is on her way to becoming a nice little heifer.

Ty is in his element these days.  The cows love it when they get a paddock with built-in itching posts.

Gauging if the animals are getting enough to eat is on always on my mind.  The easiest way to see if your paddocks are the right size is to check the cows rumen triangle on the left side between the hip bone and ribs.  It should be full and not sunken in.

I’m having the hardest time judging the grass for Jane.  I’m hitting the right paddock size about every other day.  Yesterday was good, I allotted Jane a 25′ x 40′ area and she grazed it well, and was full enough.

She’s getting into the rotational thing, and has a healthy respect for the hotwire, so much so that most of the time it is not on.  She remembers the shock well.  As you can see in the Wordless Wednesday post, she is patiently waiting for me to open the gate, there is no way she is coming near that wire.

After all that poking and prodding I guess Jane is ready to tackle the dog.

8 Comments leave one →
  1. April 22, 2011 7:14 am

    What lovely looking cows. I think Spot is gorgeous!

    It is odd for me to see a cow shake her head without a set of horns slashing the air. Is she going to headbutt the dog?

    • April 22, 2011 11:34 am

      bc, thanks – Spot is a cutie, and oh so wild last year – but she has calmed down quite a bit, not tame like Jane but pretty tame for one of the beef.

      She would love to headbutt the dog in play but she is a little afraid of him biting. The dogs know they have a lot of license until someone has a calf and then they pretty much stay just outside the hotwire.

  2. April 22, 2011 8:45 am

    I love her moo when she’s doing mock battle.

    • April 22, 2011 11:35 am

      Claire, yeah what an act – he’s trying to be ferocious and she is trying to act like a range cow.

  3. A.A. permalink
    April 22, 2011 11:25 am

    I wish we had more access to forest pasture and the itching posts here. The pastures tend to have steep ditches on most sides because the fields are mostly drained bogs here. The cows really love a good rub, and I feel a bit guilty that once they get on pasture, all they have to rub against are each other and the water bucket. Giving a good scratch just isn’t the same, and I don’t want to let them push against me, especially not the bull.

    From the pictures it looks like some of your animals are shedding. Is this about the time for your animals? Do you select for early shedding? Two of ours are pretty much done, one’s getting there, and two still have more coat on them and a lot of curls. I don’t know what to make of it, except that the three that are earlier shedders seem a bit more well to do. Nothing dramatic though, and I have yet to see them calve. It’s probably a whole different game with rabbits, but the slow shedders we’ve had have done noticeably worse overall. They’ve been more prone to suffer from ear mites, they’ve been harder to butcher and the meat hasn’t come off as easily when cooked. Can you say if there’s a correlation in cows?

    • April 22, 2011 11:46 am

      A.A., they love the trees and anything else they can get to, but they don’t get too many days in the woods anymore, much to their chagrin.

      Yes, they are shedding, and right about on schedule. You’re right on all counts about the late shedders not being as thrifty in all aspects. Early shedding is an indication of a good adrenal system. Which while it helps to have good genes, good feeding from birth makes a huge difference. I have some different coat types in my cows, and as long as the longer haired ones don’t have hair curling up or sticking out I don’t get too worried about it. I had hoped Jane would be completely slick by now, but that persistent hair on the barrel is still fuzzy, but her beaver tail is disappearing so I think she is on the upswing. She’s still in pretty good shape for a bottle calf raised on milk replacer.

      We haven’t arrived yet, I have to just keep telling myself to enjoy the journey!

  4. April 22, 2011 12:12 pm

    Looks like you at least have spring…..our grass is still in hiding.

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