And so it begins….

by David

2012-04-12 18.00.47….tomorrow, with our main herd of mama cows, calves and steers moving from the last of this stockpiled grass into the pastures that will be their home through the spring and early summer.  Not quite mob grazing…we’ll be putting only about 75,000 pounds pressure per acre…less if we think it’s wise along the way.  And we’ll be moving them very fast at first….at least fast for us.  Daily.

There is considerable debate among cattlemen about when to turn out cattle….recommendations range from “first green” to 10 inches.  We are agnostic on this and just do what feels right.  This evening, after about five days of very warm temperatures and some rain, it simply felt right to get started.

Average grass height four inches but growing fast.

If you want a more scientific approach, we offer this supplied by our friend, Ridge Shinn.

Last year was the second of applying the grazing techniques we learned in a pilot project sponsored by Holistic Management International.  The first year, we cut our hay usage in half.  This past year, we took the main herd all the way through the winter and fed hay only one day, a day of freezing snow.  The cows could have managed without it but I work for a “softy”.

It was HMI’s Ian Mitchell-Innes who counseled us not to worry about rules, just watch the cows.  In the past year, it worked for us.

PS:  for those of you paying close attention, our Italian rye is finally coming up.  Those 20 acres will be held back until the stand is really established, probably about the first of June.