Pasture Management Workshop

Discussion about the small Australian acres. What we can plant, animals that work and how we can farm sustainably.
minnie
Posts: 2700
Joined: Sat Mar 15, 2008 9:23 am
Location: Alice, West of Casino, NSW
Contact:

Pasture Management Workshop

Postby minnie » Thu Feb 10, 2011 8:53 am

DH and I have just spent the last three days attending a Pasture Management Workshop which was really interesting.

I was funded by the Catchment Management Authority and run by Agricultural Information & Monitoring Services (AIMS aimsag.com.au) to measure and monitor you pasture in a sustainable way.

You realise how so many of us and other farmers 'wing it' with looking at our pasture and moving cattle on. We got confirmation that some of our practices and our direction is correct so that was good to know.

They advise small paddocks and letting the cattle do the work rather than a slasher and stocking your land in line with the measurable amount of 'dry matter' (grass) which converts to kg per animal and the number of days they should get out of each paddock based on the type of pasture, ground cover etc.

It was about measuring pasture after taking cattle off and leaving sufficient grass to ensure better growing capacity and then to put cattle on before it gets too long as they nutrition falls when it starts to seed.

All dead interesting and a good three days spent actually learning heaps and meeting some good people.

Any of you in the Northern Rivers interested, contact the Landcare Support people because there are more on I think.
:D
Vicki

Shadowgirlau
Posts: 2281
Joined: Sun Mar 30, 2008 4:57 pm

Re: Pasture Management Workshop

Postby Shadowgirlau » Thu Feb 10, 2011 1:37 pm

Oh how exciting, pity were weren't over there ourselves. Would love that, will have to look around some WA sites and see what I can come up with in that line I think?
Of course now I think about it I could just ask you lots of questions as your a full bottle on it now! :D
Kathleen
Life is what happens to you while you're busy making other plans.
- John Lennon

minnie
Posts: 2700
Joined: Sat Mar 15, 2008 9:23 am
Location: Alice, West of Casino, NSW
Contact:

Re: Pasture Management Workshop

Postby minnie » Thu Feb 10, 2011 3:39 pm

Ha I'd love to be 'full bottle' but always learning... :lol: :lol:

Working out our DSE (Dry Sheep Equivalent - which isn't about sheep, DH calls it Stock instead of sheep which makes more sense) was interesting and we were surprised at what they came up to because of lactating...

We're certainly looking at our pasture with different eyes and planning we hope with a bit more thought and planning.

They have a spreadsheet that you put in the DSE of the stock and then dependant on where you live they had some default information on expected growth for each month (0 here in winter) and the hectare size of each paddock and the length and density of pasture and it works out an approx number of days that you should get from that paddock.

Now we're looking at our last paddock to fence (until we do the ears) and when to get them into it, as the ones we've done all need cattle off for longer. ;)

Vicki

Hayhay
Posts: 389
Joined: Sat Jan 24, 2009 8:29 pm

Re: Pasture Management Workshop

Postby Hayhay » Thu Feb 10, 2011 8:42 pm

Sounds great Vicki! I'd love to do similar workshop will have to have a look around here now we've moved.

And would love more tips from you from the workshop!

How big are their recommended paddocks? And how big are your paddocks?

minnie
Posts: 2700
Joined: Sat Mar 15, 2008 9:23 am
Location: Alice, West of Casino, NSW
Contact:

Re: Pasture Management Workshop

Postby minnie » Fri Feb 11, 2011 7:42 am

Hi Hayley,

More paddocks is better, because you can better manage them. Our paddocks at the moment are 0.4, 3.3, 3.9, 6.0, 4.6, 5.0 (all hectares). The 5.0 hectare one is about to be fenced. Overtime we'll cut them smaller but initially we'll cut them with electric string and push in posts (temporary fencing).

You have to take into account the 'density' of the grass (how much soil shows) and tree cover. We have a lot of regrowth, so in some places a lot of tree cover which we need to thin, but you still need trees for shade and protection. They also advise lots of species and native grass species for your region.

Here in northern NSW we need to leave the grass longer when they come off because of the amount of rainfall and grasses. Our grass isn't as good as more inland or down south. But in summer we get a lot of growth and winter 0 growth. So it's about planning and making the best use of the grass.

Cattle will pick the eyes out of a paddock and then if they have to they go back for the grass they like second best, on one big paddock they just keep taking the good bits and it never gets a rest or a chance to grow. It grows better if a certain amount of length is left, and they had the photos and science to prove it... very good workshop for sure.

The best is small paddock, let them eat it out but leave a bit to help it regrow quickly and then get them out.

Vicki

Hayhay
Posts: 389
Joined: Sat Jan 24, 2009 8:29 pm

Re: Pasture Management Workshop

Postby Hayhay » Sun Feb 13, 2011 8:23 pm

Thanks for info Vicki.

We're much smaller scale! We have five paddocks that are all roughly an acre or so in size. Then a big paddock probably about 8 acres which we thought we might use if the other paddocks get chomped down. The bigger one could be fenced off a bit but not enitrely into 1 acre sizes.

Heidi
Posts: 582
Joined: Sun Aug 16, 2009 10:12 pm

Re: Pasture Management Workshop

Postby Heidi » Sun Feb 13, 2011 8:55 pm

Hi,
When we are not in "flood recovery" mode, I can usually rotate the livestock through the paddocks. I have seven paddocks of between .75 and one acre each which I use for the Jersey. A paddock of about 4 acres for the two horses, the back paddock of about 6 acres for the beef cattle, and three one acre paddocks for the sheep.

Normally, the Jersey is kept exclusively in the one of the seven paddocks, and moved on as necessary. Sometimes, when the grass is growing very well, I either strip graze these small paddocks with electric fence. After I move the Jersey the horses have their pick for a short time, then go back into their four acre paddock.

Ideally, I will eventually have the back paddock, and horse paddock divided up, and then sheep fencing put on it (sheep fencing is very expensive!!!). So ultimately, the Jersey will have first pick (to reflect her need for milk production), followed by the beef, followed by the horses, and ending up with the sheep. This should help with worm load, by using "end hosts" (is that the correct term?).

We have found that it was cheaper to by star pickets when they were on sale, and barb wire fencing, than to by droppers for electric fencing. The most costly thing we have found is gates and getting water and shelter to each paddock.

Would love to win lotto... but that's not going to happen because I don't buy tickets!

H

minnie
Posts: 2700
Joined: Sat Mar 15, 2008 9:23 am
Location: Alice, West of Casino, NSW
Contact:

Re: Pasture Management Workshop

Postby minnie » Mon Feb 14, 2011 9:03 am

Heidi, you really made me laugh at this:
Would love to win lotto... but that's not going to happen because I don't buy tickets!

:lol: :lol: I say the same thing :lol: :lol:

What really hit home for us on the workshop was small, small, small even if you strip graze a larger paddock it's better than big. We knew it but the measuring what you leave to grow back quickly and the optimum time to put them on a given paddock was good info.

The LHPA vet was on it too, which was great for all those vet type questions and with worms the rotating was a definate bonus for sheep and I imagine horses but the cattle dung protected the worms to hatch and stay safe for a loooong period of time. To stop it a shovel and wheelbarrow would be better.

They said for Northcoast NSW our summer growth rate is good although not with the mineral content of the tablelands, and we need to leave 25cm of grass to get fast regrowth.

DH is going for star pickets and wire today for another paddock, and we'll pull the electric around a bit at a time (it's bush so strip grazing isn't really what will happen) to get them to eat it out and we can see what's there and how we'll proceed with smaller paddocks (an acre or two is a good size for us).

So Hayley your 1 acre paddocks are good and you could strip graze the larger one with winter oats or similar. But strip grazing it is a better way to go. You'll see the results.

You have to watch the pasture as well as the animals to see how it's all going and soil test.
:D
Vicki

Heidi
Posts: 582
Joined: Sun Aug 16, 2009 10:12 pm

Re: Pasture Management Workshop

Postby Heidi » Mon Feb 14, 2011 11:07 am

Hi
Regarding the cow pats, I've been looking into pastured hens, to hopefully take care of this problem. We have an old trailer that was given to us, very rusted out, and only being used to hold some firewood. So, DH may be able to put a lightweight chicken coop on top, and it can be moved from paddock to paddock with the Jersey. I think I might have to buy new hens, as I think my old ones will keep going back to their familiar hen house, even if I did lock them into the "new" one.

Anyone else use pastured hens?

H

Hayhay
Posts: 389
Joined: Sat Jan 24, 2009 8:29 pm

Re: Pasture Management Workshop

Postby Hayhay » Mon Feb 14, 2011 8:18 pm

Awesome I love the wealth of experience and knowledge from you all!

We read a couple of months ago about rotating stock to prevent build up of parasties etc as well as making best use of the pastures. Can't remember the order, but it was first putting on the stock that ate the grass tops, then the middles, then the short grazing, then finishing with ducks or geese to crop it down close before leaving it to rest and starting again.

Dh was also reading a blog from a farmer who really intensively grazes a very small area (like 100 cows on an acre or something crazy) and rotates them to a new paddock every day. I just googled strip grazing and sounds similar. Is this where you use the electric fencing as temporary barriers within the one larger paddock?

Heidi not sure what you mean by pastured hens and cattle dung? Do the hens eat the worms in the cattle dung?

Shadowgirlau
Posts: 2281
Joined: Sun Mar 30, 2008 4:57 pm

Re: Pasture Management Workshop

Postby Shadowgirlau » Tue Feb 15, 2011 8:38 am

Isn't it surprising how events occur? Vicki has been to this pasture management workshop and from that this discussion about pastures has eventuated. Yesterday our daughter came home from work with a pamphlet about a soil management workshop next month in Albany. Guess who is going to that?

Kathleen :lol:
Life is what happens to you while you're busy making other plans.
- John Lennon

Heidi
Posts: 582
Joined: Sun Aug 16, 2009 10:12 pm

Re: Pasture Management Workshop

Postby Heidi » Tue Feb 15, 2011 2:00 pm

The chooks scatter the dung by raking through it, they eat whatever grain has passed through them, and help break the cow pat down quicker. The buffalo fly lay their eggs in the cow pat and I believe that the hens have a two fold action there...they remove the pat so the fly can't lay eggs, but they also get whatever larvae have hatched in it. Having said that, muscovy ducks are meant to reduce fly numbers greatly, but I can't bring myself to buy the ugly things (sorry if you have muscovies).

Yes, when I say strip graze, in the fastest growing grass season, I might have graze the cow in a section that is fenced off by electric fence and moveable droppers. The area might be about 15m wide and 100m long. She eats that down and the next day, the fence is moved again, and she doesn't have access to the area that she just grazed. I think Vicki mentioned it previously, but the gist is that a livestock will preferentially graze the land. If you restrict where they can graze, they must graze the area uniformly, not just the really good bits. This means that the diversity of species is maintained, and the not so good bits (that won't get grazed if they are not "forced" to) go to seed and proliferate, whereas you're "good" species, get overgrazed, and don't spread at all, and actually decline.

So tired... need to go have my nanny nap before all kids return from school... had a bad night's sleep due to sinus infection, and worked from 7am - 2pm.

Yawn.
H

minnie
Posts: 2700
Joined: Sat Mar 15, 2008 9:23 am
Location: Alice, West of Casino, NSW
Contact:

Re: Pasture Management Workshop

Postby minnie » Wed Feb 16, 2011 8:50 am

Gee whiz one day away and sooo much... :P

Heidi, some people from an MO in Nimbin on the course were actually looking at the chooks in the paddock and talking about it. Mind you they don't have cattle themselves but have some adjisted (hmmm spelling) and were talking one chook per cow... but my thought is that you'd need a lot more chooks and to keep them in a moving cage so they didn't dust bath too much or scratch up what you don't want them to... my question to them (they were just going to put the chooks in a paddock) was how do they chooks if free know they're only to go through that paddock.

They do get into the dung, well ours do and it's a bit of a pest when it's the alpaca poo pile, makes a right mess of it. I've seen a place in the US that had great success with it but I'm not sure that it's less work to put the trailer on the tractor/ride-on or something and just pick up the poo?? Kids are great poo collectors if they think they can bag on sell some. ;) :lol: Now I wish I had kids. :lol: :lol:

Well said Heidi
...but the gist is that a livestock will preferentially graze the land. If you restrict where they can graze, they must graze the area uniformly, not just the really good bits. This means that the diversity of species is maintained, and the not so good bits (that won't get grazed if they are not "forced" to) go to seed and proliferate, whereas you're "good" species, get overgrazed, and don't spread at all, and actually decline.

exactly... and overgrazing is to be watch, it takes far longer the pasture to recover and you get LOTS of weeds... from experience, when DH kept insisting our initial alpaca paddock wasn't overgrazed. ;)

Hayley, we have four strand (top and bottom plain and two middle barb) with electric wire on outriggers for our boundry fence and then internally for paddocks (the same on our small acres) internally two strand electric wire. As Heidi said with cutting those paddocks into strips we use 'push in' posts and electric string and just use the one strand. Once they're used to electric they usually think twice about pushing a fence, especially in the wet weather. :P

I would like to forgo the barb but we have cattle on our road (grid road) and it's best to keep them out. I think in the US for instance and possibly UK (?) they no longer use barbwire because of injury, hideous stuff I reckon and when it's old and rusted a (B swear word ) scourge! IMO :o

Kathleen, how lucky was that to get a soil workshop in your area, I can't wait to hear all about it. We're still rabbiting on about the one we went on and both say it was well and truly worth it.
:D
Vicki

dggoatlover
Posts: 274
Joined: Wed Apr 07, 2010 1:24 pm
Location: Central Queensland

Re: Pasture Management Workshop

Postby dggoatlover » Wed Feb 16, 2011 9:17 am

Hey I have a favourite blog I like to read from a blogger in the US who owns a cattle ranch - she is always discussing the ins and outs of pasture management, self sufficiency etc. Thought some might find it interesting if you haven't discovered it already - http://matronofhusbandry.wordpress.com/

:D :D

Heidi
Posts: 582
Joined: Sun Aug 16, 2009 10:12 pm

Re: Pasture Management Workshop

Postby Heidi » Wed Feb 16, 2011 11:42 am

Vicki,
One of the questions I've yet to answer is how to I constrain the chooks to the paddock I want them to stay in. In "proper" set ups, they use moveable electrified netting, which is NOT going happen on my property! :lol: I was thinking that maybe chooks have a home range, and if I got "new" chooks" they might not stray too far from their moveable chicken house.

Believe me, I've got plenty of time to plot, um, I mean plan.... DH, my wonderful labourer, has his hands full finishing of the flood mound, putting in another fence/paddock for the sheep, and building some shelters for livestock in each paddock... I think my pastured hen idea is waaaaaaaaay down on his "to do" list!

H

minnie
Posts: 2700
Joined: Sat Mar 15, 2008 9:23 am
Location: Alice, West of Casino, NSW
Contact:

Re: Pasture Management Workshop

Postby minnie » Wed Feb 16, 2011 2:49 pm

Hi Heidi,

I was thinking that maybe chooks have a home range


In my life, chooks never do what they're told. :lol: The people I saw that were doing it some time back had this huge moveable cage, I mean big that they moved each day... but you'd need to water, feed and collect eggs as well. For me, the chooks can just get locked in a good sized run with hen house (oh for that to happen, but like your DH mine has the 'centre paddock fence' (big one) then the calf yard and shelter oops before that the solar shed, he'll be here to put that up before we know it.

But the chooks drive him so nuts at the moment he may do a quick fix run. :lol: :lol:

DH found this article http://www.journeytoforever.org/farm_li ... _farm.html and it's really interesting and has got him looking at things here differently, this of course is based on a cold climate and having animals locked up all winter etc but the concept is good, would be interested in anyones thoughts. 8-)

Vicki
PS Desley interesting blog, and Heidi she says something about the chook thing... she's got the same opinion as me, other than I'd give them a couple of hours daily to free range, close to bedtime.

Hayhay
Posts: 389
Joined: Sat Jan 24, 2009 8:29 pm

Re: Pasture Management Workshop

Postby Hayhay » Wed Feb 16, 2011 9:00 pm

Thanks for the explanation Heidi - on such little sleep too! I'm sure your chooks will get round to fitting into your plans at some point! No we don't have muscovy's but I think they're next on the 'to get' list - I love em!

The strip grazing sounds the way to go - was talking with DH this arvo about how we could run it in the paddocks we have. Also trying to work out how often to rotate between the paddocks.

Enjoy the workshop Kathleen!


Return to “Small Farms”

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 1 guest

cron