After winter many farmers start preparing to get their livestock turned onto pasture, but in actual fact they should have prepared for that before the end of the winter. They should always be prepared to feed or stockpile graze just a little longer so they have enough growth before turning the livestock out. Many breeds of cows, of all ages, sizes, backgrounds and needs, often share the same field. So, it is necessary to keep grazing techniques in mind for the best results. While we can strategically manage the grass we have to extend the grazing season into the fall. Consider these tips to help keep summer paddocks productive and growing for better grazing in summer.
1. DO NOT OVERGRAZE
Overgrazing reduces regrowth to the leafy areas and the plants ability to capture energy from the sun for the production of essential carbohydrates for regrowth.
The small leafy area cannot capture the photosynthetic energy to sustain a healthy root mass; pastures are more susceptible to drought, thus damaging the root system. Furthermore, the weak overgrazed pasture will be highly irresistible to inter-rill erosion (soil movement that occurs when raindrops strike exposed soil), which can lead to the following:
- Loss of valuable topsoil.
- Declination in soil organic matter
- Reduction in nitrogen pool to feed your forage.
Animals tend to gather at one area leading to higher risk of soil compression due to hoof pressure which in result increases soil compaction along with limited grazing sources. This, combined with the already damaged root systems, will almost certainly lead to compaction problems.
Supply the livestock with hay or haylage (essential grass, being cut at a younger stage of growth than hay and left to wilt instead of completely drying out), but remember that the cost of harvested feed is at least twice that of grazed forage (even if you make it yourself), increasing your yearly feed bill dramatically. Moreover, strengthening your grazing management is another way of increasing productivity of your pasture. By concentrating the animals in small fields and letting it rest, will reduce compaction issues and allow your forage to re-grow to a desired height before re-grazing.
2. DO NOT ALLOW YOUR LIVESTOCK TO CONSUME MORE THAN HALF OF PLANT LEAF VOLUME
According to a research by Dr. Richard Teague, allowing livestock to consume more than 50% of the leaf volume will unusually cause the stoppage of root-growth. The potential of the plant root to grow fully is being decreased to up-to around 50% by the consumption of more than half of the leaf volume. The following changes will be seen clearly:
- Loose soil moisture
- Soil temperature heats up
- Loss of soil biology
- Photosynthesis is diminished
- Overall plant biomass production is damaged.
3. MANAGE FOR DIVERSITY
Now-a-days, monoculture pasteurization is used in a limited way because crops are more likely to be affected by blight (a plant disease, caused by fungi) or pests and in response; farmers apply greater amounts of chemicals to protect the crop. As a result, these chemicals contaminate both the soil and the groundwater. Moreover, multi species grazing is more beneficial for farmers who work hard to increase pasture plant diversity and will also see an even greater ecological and financial advantage by adding diversity of livestock to the mix. However, in order:
- To increase plant biomass production
- Optimum animal performance
- Significantly reduced inputs
- Extend grazing seasons
Grazing diversity management may be one of the most biologically and economically viable systems for producers that support heterogeneous plant communities.
According to research adding livestock to a cattle herd, you get 20 to 25% greater productivity and carrying capacity over cattle alone, and 8 to 9% greater productivity and carrying capacity over livestock alone.
In short, the greater the diversity the better. This not only includes diversity in plant species but also diversity in plant functional groups.
4. PROVIDE A REST PERIOD
To allow plants to grow back to a practical grazing height, grazing rotations must be slowed down during hot, dry periods because of slow progress in grass growth and recovery conditions. When pastures are growing fast, rotate fast. When pastures are growing slowly, rotate slowly. The rotations must be adequate because the result of faster rotations can cause overgrazing which leads to slower recovery and less pasture production. However, rotational grazing offers a number of management advantages compared with ontinuous grazing. For example, rotational grazing also helps identifying grass shortages and surpluses and offers greater flexibility to adjust grass supply (through addition or removal of paddocks).
Therefore, it’s important to have a sufficient number of pasture fields, in order to figure out how to increase the number of days before rotating from one pasture to another.
To conclude, good pasteurization management includes minimize the use of chemicals use, and ragwort/weed removal. But also treat soil and pasture as an incredible resource for livestock and the environment. Cattles should graze an area for no more than 7 days to allow for regrowth of plants to keep them healthy as well. By following the above idea the animal nutrition and pasture management can be improved in the near future especially for those who are struggling in management. Additionally, the use of these summer annuals prepared the fields for timely fall planting.
Furthermore, you can visit and check Pasture.io website for more information and can reach out for assistance.
- The Dedicated Team of Pasture.io, 16 August 2022