Strip grazing…

by David

…and the main herd has settled in…changing paddocks with no more than a whistle.  I’m sure you could set up an automatic gate opener and they’d move themselves.

Thistle Hill Farm - Trip Grazing

There are 33 pregnant cows in this group.  The section already grazed is in the foreground.  By enlarging the picture you may be able to see the single strand of polywire which is all we need to keep them together.

The grass as we began was about a foot tall, and we’ve taken the top half before moving on. 

In recent years a technique has developed called “mob grazing”…or “high intensity grazing”…that is jamming the equivalent of 500 to 700 cows into a single acre.  That is said to mimic the way buffalo once roamed this land.

The weight on the hooves pounds the grass…and manure…into the soil forcing the nutrients closer to the root system of the grass.  That happens anyway, but this technique arguably restores pastures to the ground our forefathers once new more quickly.

We’ve been hesitant to try that approach although we’ve visited the farms of friends who have…and are impressed.  But it’s not efficient for our smaller operation.  Getting the poundage focused would require tiny paddocks…1/4, even 1/8 of an acre…and constant moving of temporary fencing. And that would greatly complicate seeing that the cows get ample shade and water.

We’re also not convinced cows are meant to be that closely bunched in a fenced operation.  How do they feel (yes, I’m serious)!  And then there are possible health concerns.

Frankly we’ve never seen healthier, happier cows than at Thistle Hill.

Our conclusion for now is to keep things as they are…for the well being of the cows…and ourselves.