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Best Part of the Day

May 25, 2014

I like to move the cows.  It gives me a chance to see all the cows up close and personal.

Curious steer

Curious steer

Rotational grazing also gives you the opportunity to see every bit of your pasture in great detail during the daily chore of building the new fence and taking down the old.

grasses and forbs make a good pasture

grasses and forbs make a good pasture


Observing the sward daily, weekly, and seasonally teaches you the plant communities too that you are most likely to find in a good sward.  You see what the animals will graze and what they leave behind.



Things I’m watching for right now besides cows ready to calve of course, is who is shedding well before the magic June 1st date, any off-color coats due to lack of mineral intake, happy lines on the animals that have shed, anyone with more flies, and just general demeanor of the herd.  I can observe the herd as a group but they all have to file right by me as I hold the gate open for them, a perfect time for up close and personal inspection of each and every animal.  You’d be surprised how much information you can gather in a minute or two, especially when they walk so close to you they almost knock you over.


31 Comments leave one →
  1. May 25, 2014 9:13 pm

    Really up close and personal with a few of them there! 😀

  2. mumofteenagers permalink
    May 25, 2014 11:43 pm

    Your lovely animals don’t exactly hurry past. They seem almost not to notice you at all. Excuse my ignorance – is there a use for the small flap of skin that hangs between their front legs from their chest for a couple of inches.

    • May 26, 2014 5:31 am

      Mum, they’re pretty wild 🙂 That’s just part of their neck skin, heading down to the brisket. Mostly I think it’s there for the humans to scratch 😉

  3. May 26, 2014 12:57 am

    Lovely looking pasture there! Lucky cows. Matron, do you have any photos of your steaks? I’m curious how a grassfed Hereford steak looks. Cheers, Brent.

    • May 26, 2014 5:27 am

      Brent, thanks, the pastures smell good now too, so much blooming. You know we don’t have any photos, we rarely eat steak and the beef that is sold goes to our customers without us seeing it.

  4. Carole permalink
    May 26, 2014 6:17 am

    A couple of ?s what does June 1st mean and how can you tell if a cow is off color, your cows are all different colors?

    • May 26, 2014 8:59 am

      Carole, it’s good to strive for a slick cow by the first of June, meaning no winter hair left by that time. As for color, your cows should be the color of the breed, it’s easiest to start with Angus, who are supposed to be black, any brown hair or lighter color hair around the eyes indicates they need more minerals, usually copper. So if you go into a herd of Angus with the idea of buying some, and you see black ones buy those, leave the brownish ones behind. Our cows are brown or gold and the spectacles around the eyes are still detectable if the minerals are deficient in minerals.

  5. Bee permalink
    May 26, 2014 6:27 am

    I know what you mean. Mine think the only reason I go out in the pasture is to feed them, scratch them or generally mess with them. They also think I really want their assistance with the chicken tractor, the salt box, the irrigating, fixing fence, letting out or penning up the sheep and taking care of the chickens in the chicken tractor. The only time they back off is when I’m doing something with the stallion, who has them completely intimidated. Even then, they stand as close as they can with getting into his personal space. Speaking of flies, we have a plague of them this year, probably because we had a warm spring and they got ahead of their usual predators. Do you use anything topical on your cows, Nita?

    • May 26, 2014 8:40 am

      You mean I need to get a stallion? 😉 You know, I don’t use anything except on the milk cow, and I try to see who is bothered by flies and figure out why. I have one cow who has more than just a few, so I have to take her whole into account, it’s a good culling tool…

      This is what I use on the milk cow. A gallon, diluted lasts about 3 years.

      • Bee permalink
        May 26, 2014 1:52 pm

        Yes, the stud is my enforcer. We had to butcher a ram a while back because he was getting so aggressive with the other animals and people — knocked over two teenage girls, caught my husband twice, ran the cows off their feed. He tried getting pushy with the stud and Sox peeled back his teeth, grabbed the ram by the nape of the neck and shook him, then literally threw him away. We hoped the drubbing would knock some sense into him, but the stupid ram started beating up the ewes, so he went in the freezer. My cows don’t usually have much trouble with flies, but this is a bad year for both the cows and the horses; thanks for the info.

  6. May 26, 2014 9:03 am

    I love how lush and tall your pasture is! So to make the rotational grazing so successful for your place (of along with your adherence to giving the herd the right amount of field each day) I was wondering just how many adult cows are out there and how many acres are they getting rotated through in, say, a year? Just grazing, not cut hay.

    • May 26, 2014 9:11 am

      Roz, we have 7 adults, 7 two year olds, 7 yearlings, and one wee one so far. We have roughly 40 acres of pasture with hayfields in that mix too, we graze the hayfields at least once in the spring before dropping those out of the rotation. For cow planning you need to stock with August pastures in mind, not the spring flush. And stocking rates can be upped if you buy in hay from another farm.

      • May 26, 2014 9:48 am

        Wow, that only comes to around 2 acres per cow? Hmmm and some are hayfields so those aren’t in the rotation all season. I thought that to keep a pasture so green and healthy a lot more acreage would be necessary….your work watching and rotating has certainly paid off! However, I’m in east Tennessee, I wonder if the climate difference would make more acreage necessary here since we normally (though not this year) have a monsoon season so to speak and then a few months of scorching high temps, very different from your part of the country…. yet deep rooted grasses that are only grazed occasionally might still do as well as yours, I just don’t know any one around here who does rotate like that so I can’t watch their fields for information 🙂 thanks so much for sharing about all this! It’s great to see it in action! I just hope I get to actually try it out some day LOL

        • May 26, 2014 1:15 pm

          Roz, it the rest/recovery period that keeps the grass in good shape and a little more drought proof. We have about 8 months of rain and 4 months of almost no rain in the summer. But we have cool nights, and not much oppressive heat, maybe one week over 90 and into up to 100 throughout the entire summer.

  7. CassieOz permalink
    May 26, 2014 3:22 pm

    Those are lovely sleek looking ladies. We’ve just separated the beefer calves (9months) from the mamas, as we breed on an 18month cycle and the Bull is back with his ladies now. I can’t think for some of the mooing in the background!

    • May 26, 2014 5:32 pm

      Thanks Cassie! Groan, I know exactly what you mean, it’s funny and sad when they lose their voices.

  8. May 27, 2014 5:14 am

    I have 2 Jersey cows, a heifer and a steer in my paddocks. One of the cows is covered in flies and the others have almost none. Why would she be attracting so many and what does she need?

    • May 27, 2014 5:41 am

      Brookins, you know I can’t really say, except that those are the cows you want to either get rid of or give more nutritional support to. My cow that is covered with flies this year is 15, had a rough winter, and I’m thinking this will be her last year, if she was young I would try to investigate further and “fix” the problem, but knowing her age and seeing that her calves aren’t fly ridden I see my path clearly with her. Free choice loose minerals make a huge difference and herd observations allow you to see who fits and who doesn’t.

  9. May 27, 2014 8:48 am

    I always try to stand to the cow’s left as they walk past the open gate…as you show in the video. The left side and the rear end tell me everything I need to know at moving time.

    Those could be pictures of my pastures. I especially love to find narrow-leaf plantain out there as in the third picture. We are starting to see the emergence of warm-season plants now. Shaping up to be a hot summer.

    • May 27, 2014 9:45 am

      Yeah, I looking at “rear ends” a lot these days. And pins. Bags and vulvas are good, pins are the real deal.

      • May 27, 2014 10:28 am

        I understand about pins but I can’t see it yet. I just watch the bag fill, things open up and then the cow obviously becomes uncomfortable…up and down…up and down. It’s nice when the cow is just down the hill from the house so I can glance out from time to time. This morning’s calf was born 100 yards from my bedroom window.

        • May 27, 2014 11:32 am

          Pins are helpful when you have the veterans that poop them out while grazing…second most useful after pins is slab-sided. Lots of them get uncomfortable weeks beforehand.

        • May 28, 2014 6:47 am

          Last night I checked the remaining two pregnant heifers. Neither was showing any sign of calving….that I could detect.

          Heifer calf this morning.


        • May 28, 2014 7:00 am

          Maybe Julie should be checking instead of you 😉 Are you sure your “not pregnant” heifers aren’t pregnant.

        • May 28, 2014 7:05 am


          Well, they haven’t bagged up, they cycle regularly and the vet palpated the herd a few months ago. I don’t think I’ll add anything to Julie’s chore list…or if I do, I’ll suggest it from a safe distance.

        • May 28, 2014 7:48 am

          You’re good to go then, or rather they are probably going…another tool more accurate than palpating is BioTracking, I’m just throwing that out there for other readers. A missed year waiting for a calf that isn’t there is expensive, much more so than a cheap blood test.

          And it’s not as invasive, if you get my drift.

  10. A.A. permalink
    May 27, 2014 11:28 am

    “Bags and vulvas are good, pins are the real deal.”

    That needs to go on a t-shirt 😉

  11. May 27, 2014 2:40 pm

    The sound of hooves in thick grass, the chewing and breathing are just wonderful. Is that little Dickey that sniffs at the camera? They all look really really good. Brava!!

    • May 27, 2014 7:32 pm

      Dickie is a big boy now and moved to his new home west of Portland. That little girl is going to be a future cow, I think. Thanks for the kind words.

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