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

omg_sob

Ridin' The Range
Joined
Aug 5, 2016
Messages
34
Reaction score
33
Points
66
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
 

AClark

Loving the herd life
Joined
Aug 5, 2016
Messages
891
Reaction score
1,669
Points
193
Location
SW Oklahoma
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.
 

omg_sob

Ridin' The Range
Joined
Aug 5, 2016
Messages
34
Reaction score
33
Points
66
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.
 

AClark

Loving the herd life
Joined
Aug 5, 2016
Messages
891
Reaction score
1,669
Points
193
Location
SW Oklahoma
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.
 

CLSranch

Ridin' The Range
Joined
Jan 27, 2017
Messages
83
Reaction score
71
Points
73
Location
NE Oklahoma
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.
 

cjc

True BYH Addict
Joined
Jul 6, 2015
Messages
479
Reaction score
514
Points
203
Location
The Valley - British Columbia, Canada
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.
 

greybeard

Herd Master
Joined
Oct 23, 2011
Messages
5,940
Reaction score
10,699
Points
553
Location
East Texas
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.
 

AClark

Loving the herd life
Joined
Aug 5, 2016
Messages
891
Reaction score
1,669
Points
193
Location
SW Oklahoma
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.
 

greybeard

Herd Master
Joined
Oct 23, 2011
Messages
5,940
Reaction score
10,699
Points
553
Location
East Texas
I never thought about it myself, until I read a vet's dissertation about it recently on a cattle forum.
 

CLSranch

Ridin' The Range
Joined
Jan 27, 2017
Messages
83
Reaction score
71
Points
73
Location
NE Oklahoma
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.
 
Top