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 More winter grazing (with video)

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Grassfarmer



Posts : 850
Join date : 2010-09-27
Location : Belmont, Manitoba, Canada

PostSubject: More winter grazing (with video)   Sat Jan 05, 2013 10:06 pm

Time to move cows, pretty well worked over this piece - down to the thistles. I was also afraid they would cross the river into a little hamlet that has some attractive grass growing around the gardens.


I'm not much of a cowboy so I tried the stick and carrot approach instead.


Worked pretty well and soon I had followers.


Trailed them a mile north across the river, through the bush and along the riverbank.


"Houston we have a problem" - the beaver have deepened and widened this channel since I was here last and I didn't fancy getting stuck or turning back. Steep river bank on one side, oxbow on the other.


Luckily I could drive out on the oxbow, round the channel and back up the other side.


As a population I'm proud at how well the herd can handle the winter conditions we subject them to. We've already grazed 3 months longer than some of our neighbours and we are not quite done yet. The "real" purebred guys in Alberta are calving their pampered pets now in heated barns while ours are being "feed efficiency tested" in the real world.


Getting to taste the carrot while I wait for some stragglers.


Sorted off 10% leaner ones and the open cows to feed and trailed the rest another mile to our remaining tame pasture. I was a little apprehensive as the snow got wind crusted last week but a bigger problem is the inch immediately on top of the flattened grass which is pretty icy. Never seen this before - looks like it thawed from the ground up scratch


The feed is really good quality if they can get to it without exerting undue energy. Probably about the same analysis as the hay and silage that most feed. Wish now I'd swathed the rest of the tame pasture but these are unusual conditions for us - we usually run out of grass before we run out of grazeable days. We have probably 3 weeks of grass left if they can access it. We pulled the young cows off this at Christmas as it was proving too tough sledding for them.


Hopefully these videos work at my first attempt. The cows seemed happy enough to get on with their job. I'll see tomorrow how well they made out with it.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3bLAf4OAraI&feature=youtu.be

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=c6RZlNfVCog&feature=youtu.be
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PatB



Posts : 455
Join date : 2010-09-25
Age : 53
Location : Turner, Maine

PostSubject: Re: More winter grazing (with video)   Sun Jan 06, 2013 8:05 am

Cows looking Good. Your grazing system must be working if your still have pasture for 3 weeks. How many acres do you graze in a year? What plant species makes up the majority of the forage?
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Grassfarmer



Posts : 850
Join date : 2010-09-27
Location : Belmont, Manitoba, Canada

PostSubject: Re: More winter grazing (with video)   Sun Jan 06, 2013 2:55 pm

So much variety of conditions its hard to give you any worthwhile figures Pat. We are running over 10 acres per cow but production ranges from 160 cow days/acre (in my spring banked grass situation where we really graze it heavy one year in two) to 4 cow days/acre on a muskeg quarter we rent. Averages would be closer to 12/acre on the heaviest wooded areas, 15-20 on the bush areas, 35-50 on the recovering, formerly overgrazed open pastures to 80-90 on the better tame pastures. I think around 80 is about the sustainable level on our improved tame pasture without fertilizer. We are currently using 1 acre/cow for growing winter feed but we throw the inputs to that and the production should allow for an ample cushion of feed reserves.
Species as you have seen are all over the place too - from slough grass, sedges, willow and other peoples "weeds" through to meadow brome, cicer milkvetch and clovers. The species I despise most is not what most consider a weed - its timothy. Just hopeless as a grass species under our management system.



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PatB



Posts : 455
Join date : 2010-09-25
Age : 53
Location : Turner, Maine

PostSubject: Re: More winter grazing (with video)   Sun Jan 06, 2013 3:39 pm

GF is cow days grazing per acre for the year or each pass accross the paddocl. I have to agree with timothy as a poor pasture grass. If the cows will eat it and it does not harm them it is consider forage on this place. The land conversion area have no natural grass seed bank as far as I can tell so they need to be seeded. I am trying to introduce a wide array of grass species to help in providing forage during the whole growing season an maybe some for late fall early winter grazing.

How hard is it to establish brome grass in mixed stands and what is the persistance of it?
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larkota



Posts : 371
Join date : 2010-09-23
Age : 57
Location : Kimball South Dakota

PostSubject: Re: More winter grazing (with video)   Sun Jan 06, 2013 6:36 pm

in SD brome is ditch hay. that and june grass will take over warm season grass, if not careful.
in Mo heard it was hard to get started or keep around.

larkota not a grassfarmer yet.
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Grassfarmer



Posts : 850
Join date : 2010-09-27
Location : Belmont, Manitoba, Canada

PostSubject: Re: More winter grazing (with video)   Sun Jan 06, 2013 8:51 pm

Pat, that's cow days per year. The meadow brome is easy enough to establish under our conditions - I would venture to say it is probably the most commonly used grass species seeded in tame pasture on the prairies.
Larkota you are maybe thinking of smooth brome which is related and is terribly invasive? - it spreads by rhizomes and takes over everything. Meadow brome also has rhizomes but only weak ones and grows more like a bunch grass. Meadow brome isn't as persistent as the smooth but it's regrowth is better leading to high quality grass going into winter here. In terms of production I'd rate Meadow brome about the same as orchard grass but the orchard grass can winter kill here so we prefer the MB. There are some new hybrid bromes out which are a cross between smooth brome and meadow brome and i'd be interested in trying that.
Warm season grasses- what are they larkota? we don't even have a warm season Smile
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PatB



Posts : 455
Join date : 2010-09-25
Age : 53
Location : Turner, Maine

PostSubject: Re: More winter grazing (with video)   Mon Jan 07, 2013 7:14 am

Thanx GF

I will be talking with the seed dealer in a couple of days about blending a mix for my project. How does meadow brome handle low lying area that are prome to being wet? The mix will contain clovers, blend of Orchard Grass, blend of perennial ryegrass, meadow fescue, endophyte free tall fescue, improved reeds canary grass and possible brome.
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Grassfarmer



Posts : 850
Join date : 2010-09-27
Location : Belmont, Manitoba, Canada

PostSubject: Re: More winter grazing (with video)   Mon Jan 07, 2013 9:34 am

Neither type of brome likes flooding. If I could grow perennial ryegrass I wouldn't bother with any of these shorter lived species. Unfortunately it doesn't winter here.
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PatB



Posts : 455
Join date : 2010-09-25
Age : 53
Location : Turner, Maine

PostSubject: Re: More winter grazing (with video)   Mon Jan 07, 2013 12:25 pm

Grassfarmer wrote:
Neither type of brome likes flooding. If I could grow perennial ryegrass I wouldn't bother with any of these shorter lived species. Unfortunately it doesn't winter here.

Thanx

Experience tells me a blend of grasses, clovers and other forage plants is best due to the wide variation in conditions. The more species in the mix the higher chance of something growing in all areas and producing forage through out the growing season. I tried perennial ryegrass with red clover in the beggining and was not satisfied with the results. I have even thought about mixing in some eastern grama grass as an experiment if I can find a northern seed source.

Tom D what is the grasses of choice in the U.P. besides reeds canary?
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Grassfarmer



Posts : 850
Join date : 2010-09-27
Location : Belmont, Manitoba, Canada

PostSubject: Re: More winter grazing (with video)   Mon Jan 07, 2013 7:23 pm

Got a reminder of the colour of summer when I was moving windbreaks today - pulled this up on the skid out of a field of our grass banked for calving on. Living in a deep freeze has its advantages.


Quack grass


To think people spray the lowly dandelion to get rid of it. Looks good to me.
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Tom D
Admin


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Age : 38
Location : Michigan

PostSubject: Re: More winter grazing (with video)   Mon Jan 07, 2013 10:11 pm

PatB wrote:
Grassfarmer wrote:
Neither type of brome likes flooding. If I could grow perennial ryegrass I wouldn't bother with any of these shorter lived species. Unfortunately it doesn't winter here.

Thanx

Experience tells me a blend of grasses, clovers and other forage plants is best due to the wide variation in conditions. The more species in the mix the higher chance of something growing in all areas and producing forage through out the growing season. I tried perennial ryegrass with red clover in the beggining and was not satisfied with the results. I have even thought about mixing in some eastern grama grass as an experiment if I can find a northern seed source.

Tom D what is the grasses of choice in the U.P. besides reeds canary?

Our most dominant grass is poplar. The cows eat it pretty good until it gets over 2" thick, then we have to chip it first. Smile For the hay meadows, timothy and orchardgrass are the old standbys, but meadow fescue and tall fescue are the next big thing. Also some brome, but that's like saying angus cattle; there are about 100 different types of brome, and I'm not a brome guru. Birdsfoot Trefoil has always been popular in our area for hay and pasture, it lasts forever and reseeds well. Alfalfa also does well, because of our snow cover and moderate temps. Also Red Clover and White Clover.

For your land conversion areas you might want to use some Festulolium. It should be one of the easiest cool season grasses to establish and has good quality and yield. It is shortlived and heads out quite a bit, but I think it would spread like wildfire. Headed out Festulolium, Trefoil, and Red Clover all work well in the "Round Bale Seeding Method".

Check out Best Forage for prices or more info, tell them Tom Dykstra sent you. http://bestforage.com/

TD
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Farmerkuk



Posts : 20
Join date : 2012-03-20
Location : WyoBraska

PostSubject: Re: More winter grazing (with video)   Mon Jan 07, 2013 11:29 pm

Thanks for the website Tom

I have a 60 acre Pivot that is going to get planted to something other then corn!
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larkota



Posts : 371
Join date : 2010-09-23
Age : 57
Location : Kimball South Dakota

PostSubject: Re: More winter grazing (with video)   Tue Jan 08, 2013 9:12 am

Grassfarmer wrote:
Pat, that's cow days per year. The meadow brome is easy enough to establish under our conditions - I would venture to say it is probably the most commonly used grass species seeded in tame pasture on the prairies.
Larkota you are maybe thinking of smooth brome which is related and is terribly invasive? - it spreads by rhizomes and takes over everything. Meadow brome also has rhizomes but only weak ones and grows more like a bunch grass. Meadow brome isn't as persistent as the smooth but it's regrowth is better leading to high quality grass going into winter here. In terms of production I'd rate Meadow brome about the same as orchard grass but the orchard grass can winter kill here so we prefer the MB. There are some new hybrid bromes out which are a cross between smooth brome and meadow brome and i'd be interested in trying that.
Warm season grasses- what are they larkota? we don't even have a warm season Smile

grassy you made me get out my dusty pocket ID Guide.

smooth bromegrass is the weed I was talking about...didnt know there were other types. next would be Kentucky bluegrass followed by cheatgrass. all three invaders if watered and not grazed properly.

warm season grasses I have planted
big bluestem
Indiangrass
sideoats gramaa
switshgrass
little bluestem
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Grassfarmer



Posts : 850
Join date : 2010-09-27
Location : Belmont, Manitoba, Canada

PostSubject: Re: More winter grazing (with video)   Sat Jan 19, 2013 11:46 pm

Well it looks like our 2012 grazing season is over. Snowed early last week and the snowpack was getting up close to my knees, then we had a crazy 36 hour spell where it was warm and windy (up to 44F) which had water running like spring break up, a little grass bared off but most just sunk to about 6 inches deep. Then it snowed about 4 inches more, then it was mild but still below freezing, ice everywhere. So now the sunken snow has frozen over like a concrete layer on the remaining grass. Tonight it's snowing and windy and predicted to be -20F with windchill tomorrow. The last group of cows had been on a half ration of silage for 10 days but started on full feed today.
Oh well hopefully 80 days from now the snow will be gone and they can get back to grazing. I don't know how guys round here can feed cows for 200 days every year - I'm already bored of carting silage out.
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