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Should I let them graze my brown winter pastures???

Discussion in 'Feeding Time - Cattle (Feed & Forages)' started by omg_sob, Feb 23, 2017.

  1. Feb 23, 2017
    omg_sob

    omg_sob Ridin' The Range

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    Hi gang,

    Like everyone in the northeast, my pastures are brown & wet, but my mini heifers are out there roaming & munching. Should I keep them in a paddock until the grass can grow or is it ok to let them walk and pick? Thanks!

    Sean
     
  2. Feb 23, 2017
    AClark

    AClark Loving the herd life

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    If it's like my pasture (that you can see in my avatar) the more my horses have eaten down the old brown stuff, the more green grass is popping up. Granted, I'm in the south but it's been wet here and the only place that is suffering from that is around the water trough, it's pretty mucky. I do supplement the grass with a round bale of hay though, to help keep them from nipping it down to the dirt before the new grass can get established.
     
  3. Feb 23, 2017
    omg_sob

    omg_sob Ridin' The Range

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    I do have a round bale as their primary food source, but they seem to like getting out and roaming to also munch. I just didn't want them eating all the new shoots before they could get ahead of them. I'm going to harrow the fields when they dry out a bit more so I can de-thatch and spread their manure around.
     
  4. Feb 23, 2017
    AClark

    AClark Loving the herd life

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    From what I see my neighbors doing with their cattle, they just moved a bunch across the street from me to eat it down (and it's tall and very dead) now that it's warming up and starting to green up here. I don't know much about cattle, but horses definitely can do a number on a field. They rip grass up by the roots and knock the dirt off to eat it. That's why I give them a round bale to keep them occupied from absolutely savaging their pasture, lol.
    Mine won't get plowed, though I notice all the little hoof prints seem to be aerating it pretty well. I also have 3 goats out on it, but they aren't much in the way of grazers, they prefer to pick at all the weeds - which is fine by me if they destroy them.
     
  5. Feb 23, 2017
    CLSranch

    CLSranch Ridin' The Range

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    sob I think your fine letting them out. Just like Clark my mini cattle in one pasture and Horse's on the other have hay and I'm really wanting them to eat the brown grass. It can also help it from dying and being mulch blocking the sunlight from the soon to be green grass around it. My place I just bought last Jan is still full of dead spots from being fertilized and then not grazed for 3-4 years after that. The good growth turned into not so good shade.

    On a side note option. If you have a nice paddock area with the round bale you can keep them put up while it's really wet. My horses will tear up certain areas after a rain. Turning a small trail into a giant mud path and the grass takes forever to come back afterwards.
     
  6. Feb 23, 2017
    cjc

    cjc Loving the herd life

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    I leave my herd out on the pasture all year, even when its covered in snow and they are having to literally kick the snow off to get to the dead grass (they actually do that :)).

    I say it's fine. But if it's your only pasture it is always good to let it rest. We do a rotation each season so that the grass continues to come in nice for them when they need it in the spring and summer. We fertilize and harrow the pasture that's resting and by next season its lush for them.
     
  7. Feb 23, 2017
    greybeard

    greybeard Herd Master

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    Very little risk associated with dead grass this time of year. Much more risk involved in late fall and early winter, depending where one lives and what kind of forage is available, especially between first frost and first hard freeze. Since we don't know your geographical region or forage type, it is difficult to say for sure.

    There is much more risk present in spring, letting ruminants into new lush green grass without a few days of being on a preventative such as bloat blocks and/or hi mag mineral to prevent grass tetany.

    There are 2 trains of thoughts on spreading their poop piles out. Traditionally, it was seen as a good way to help fertilize and break down the piles to lessen the fly problems. However, there is a growing arena of thought, that it just spreads parasite eggs and organisms all over the pasture and growing forage, instead of limiting their presence to just the piles. Cattle will normally avoid the clumps of grass that grow right in or next to cow patties, but won't be able to do so once the piles are broken p and spread.
     
  8. Feb 23, 2017
    AClark

    AClark Loving the herd life

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    Grey brought up an interesting point there, I never thought about how it would spread parasite eggs to shuffle manure around the pasture. It makes perfect sense that it would just spread parasite eggs around, and some of them can last quite awhile in the dirt.
     
  9. Feb 23, 2017
    greybeard

    greybeard Herd Master

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    I never thought about it myself, until I read a vet's dissertation about it recently on a cattle forum.
     
  10. Feb 24, 2017
    CLSranch

    CLSranch Ridin' The Range

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    Odd thought. hmmm? I purposely kick the horse apples ALL THE TIME just to knock it down and get it spread to let them get to the grass. I've been meaning to tie a cattle panel behind the truck and drag it around.