Skip to content

Damage I Can Live With

December 30, 2012

My 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.

Here is a close-up, the cows have not eaten the forage into the ground.   Experts say to graze the plants no shorter than 3 inches, so I think I have met that criteria here.

Some hay does get left behind, either it is soiled, or gets too wet in a rain storm.

December 29, 2012

December 29, 2012

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!

9 Comments leave one →
  1. December 30, 2012 3:35 am

    Right on. The cows in the new paddock are eating the fresh greens. After a few days the fresh greens are gone. We fence a larger than normal grazing area and move our cows through it over a week or so with no back fence. Each day we dump a fresh bale of stemmy, first cutting alfalfa a little further out in the pasture.

    So now a question. Are you in the Greg Judy camp of feeding hay on your best ground to make it even better or do you try to dump hay in the rough spots?

    • December 30, 2012 6:36 am

      HFS, my back fence is for my convenience now, I can leave the gate on the road open and deliver water without worrying about the cows getting out. It’s a pain living with a county road cutting your farm in half. I hate opening and closing gates 😦 Although I did get a new gate handle for Christmas for the main gate, and I discovered (the hard way) a bad electric fence gate yesterday :O

      Now the question…I feed everywhere, rough and good, the one thing I do make a note of is camp sites, I may fence them away from their favorite spot if I see it being used too much. Much to their chagrin.

  2. December 30, 2012 4:29 am

    Argh. My soils, unlike yours, are not well-drained at all. This looks wonderful to my eyes.

    • December 30, 2012 6:41 am

      TD, what’s been interesting to me is that even if the Web Soil Survey tells you your soil is well-drained, it may not be depending on prior use and treatment. There are a lot of former truck farms turned “pasture” land out here (very locally), and lots of churned up ground about now, or worse yet standing water. I do think the plants and livestock have a lot to do with it.

      Your’s will improve slow but sure, it’s the slow part I get frustrated with 😦

  3. December 30, 2012 9:00 am

    I found your blog only today and love the information you share, so signed up. I live in Nova Scotia, Canada, and we’ve had many rain days since the first of September. In other words, we’ve had to deal with a lot of mud. We don’t have a huge amount of pasture space, but we do what we can with the few animals we have. Our miniature donkey has been grazing all week, taking only a flake of hay in the evening when she’s in her stall. Today, with snow covering the ground, she’s disappointed she can’t get at the grass. I find it quite surprising that my animals can still graze on grass with January two days away.

  4. Kristin permalink
    December 30, 2012 1:58 pm

    Thanks for not pointing me out by name, Nita. 😉 I may try this in the future. This is our first year with plenty of grass and I’m not sure how it will do. I’m leery of feeding the sheep, dry cow, and steers on pasture (they are all together). You know how sheep are. I wonder what Greg Judy is doing with his sheep.

    • December 30, 2012 2:51 pm

      Kristin, you’re welcome ! I think Greg Judy has enough stockpile that he never puts his animals in short grass, so I don’t think his sheep are getting to nip the grass too close. If I remember right, they move with the cows.

  5. Kristin permalink
    December 30, 2012 1:59 pm

    Oh, and “p.s.”, try and remember to take pictures of this same area for us again in the Spring.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: