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 Flushing cows with cover crops and grazing management

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Posts : 49
Join date : 2012-04-16
Location : north central SD

PostSubject: Flushing cows with cover crops and grazing management   Fri May 09, 2014 11:38 pm

I planted a couple small fields to a season-long cover crop last summer. I grazed it for 10 days in July and two weeks in August, then came back for about 3 weeks in December. It was mostly brassicas (hunter brassica, purple top turnips, and dwarf essex rape) and a little BMR sorghum, and a lot of kochia (not part of the plan).

It worked great for winter grazing. I put young cows (bred heifers and coming 3's) on it during one of the coldest Decembers we've had in a long while, and they actually gained weight I think. Held their own for sure.

The best surprise has come this spring. The 10 days they (2 yr olds with 1st calf at side) grazed in July just happened to come right before I turned bulls out. Apparently it flushed them pretty good, because they are head and shoulders ahead of every other age group on the place in terms of first-cycle conception. Like 25% better. Admittedly, we have lots of room for improvement with everything else. I'm not quite done calving the 1st cycle, and I'd say they're pushing 80%. Half my twins have come from them also (2 out of 4...small sample size I know, maybe not worth thinking about).

I don't have any season-long cover crops planned for this year, so I've tried to set up my pasture rotations to do one of two things: Graze pastures with lots of sweet clover (looks to be an abundance of it this year) just before breeding, or try to be going through on my second rotation just prior to breeding (after moving quickly through it 40-45 days previously).

Does anyone else using grazing management to flush cows prior to breeding? If so, what's your method?

Also, do you think it is covering up poor fertility to use grazing management to flush? My initial thought is no, because they still have to cycle on their own without the help of drugs or additional feed. A case could be made for the cover crop flushing being a crutch to cow fertility, but I'm willing to accept that for the soil health benefits, winter grazing opportunity, and 1st cycle conception (which equates to a more uniform calf crop and shorter calving season).
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Kent Powell

Posts : 500
Join date : 2010-09-24
Location : SW Kansas

PostSubject: Re: Flushing cows with cover crops and grazing management   Sat May 10, 2014 12:00 am

May/June Calving on green grass does this. As Hilly pointed out, they seem more serious about being a mother calving at this time. Bad udders come to the surface quickly.
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