Tag Archives: polywire

First Stab at Mob Grazing (UHDG)

About a week ago, despite our poor pasture growing situation due to dry and hot weather, i tried what others have done and that is UHDG or ultra high stock density grazing.  There are some who have successfully managed shifting cows 5,7,9 times a day and obtaining up to 1 million pounds of livestock per acre!  That can result in a phenomenal improvement in soil quality due to deep rooted plants and evenly distributed manure.

My experience was far different and after a couple of hours quickly realised my misgivings as to mob grazing’s effectiveness in our area.

  1. Cool season grasses often don’t have deep roots, by and large, unless allowed to grow quite tall (and mature) which results in unpalatable grazing.
  2. Mature grasses are unpalatable and very low ‘octane’ (nutrition)
  3. Laying down cool season, fine stem grasses by trampling is virtually impossible.
  4. Toxic endophyte fescue is poisonous at all stages; recent research shows the bottom 2 inches is as toxic as the seed heads.  Forcing cattle to consume it is detrimental to their health.
  5. Hot, humid weather causes some animals to suffer and they need shade – not all small paddocks can have shade.
  6. I quickly realized that i was exhausting myself setting up polybraid and posts to shift the cattle.  To the point that, instead of accomplishing other tasks whilst at the farm, i felt like napping instead!!
  7. A problem perhaps unique to my situation is the distance from the stock.   My farm is 35 minutes’ drive (via JD Gator) from our home.  Though  my solution was to shift cattle often on the days i could go up there, then give them a large break to last up to 3 days, but i found point 6 overwhelmed even that idea.

 

IMG-4041
This photo shows my mob at an estimated 50,000 lbs per acre.  Not even close to what is needed to see positive effects of mob grazing.  Nevertheless, i have discovered an optimal balance of dividing my 20 acre paddocks (paddock sizes vary) in half results in acceptable utilization plus gives an extra day and a half of grazing over giving access to the entire paddock.  This is very important; instead of 3 days grazing, there are 4.5 days, which over the course of 24 paddocks results in an additional 36 days rest period!

Putting dollars to that extra growth:  In normal and decent growing conditions (not over 90F and normal rainfall), cool season grasses and legumes could potential produce 8-12 inches of growth in 36 days.  An average pasture with little to no bare ground (spaces between plants) might yield 300 lbs to the inch per acre.  So, if the entire farm received that additional 36 day rest, then 400 acres x 300 lbs per inch x 8 inches growth  = 960,000 additional lbs produced.  Reduce that by 20% to get a hay equivalency and price it at 5 cents per pound, then 768,000 lbs x .05 = $38,400 worth of hay that is not needed to purchase and maintain or grow the herd.  OR, consider that as my wages for setting up and taking down posts and polybraid during the summer.  Of course, nothing is perfect or normal, so even these conservative figures may fall way short in the face of a drought or hot temperatures.  Nevertheless, there is gain to be considered IF the labor does not become cumbersome and cost more than the value of forage.

Well, this was all written on Monday the 21st of May – a week later – still no rain and temps continue well into the 90s with heat indices above 100 for several hours each day and little to no wind.  It’s muggy and hot; cool season pastures are no longer growing, so the planned grazing is relaxed already since the cows need shade and i’ve set up a paddock with a big timber patch.  Guess where most of the manure (nutrients) will end up?  Yeah, not where planned.  As usual, theories, plans, scenarios all go out the window in the face of nature.  Like any other year, we just do the best we can with the conditions we are given.

Cheers!

tauna

Winter Is On Its Way!

Got a late start this morning, but headed up to roll up a polybraid, then take it to the paddock where the cows were and set it up.  I had put off rolling this polybraid up all summer and because of that, there was some damage to the wire (it wasn’t energised all this time) from deer, calves, sheep chewing on it and breaking the tiny wires braided inside the poly.

Thinking the cows would be starving (they act like that a lot), I provided them far too large a stockpiled paddock.  They just ran around trampling their food and kicking up their heels!  Despite standing knee deep in fresh grass, after about an hour, some of them had wandered back into the old paddock to nibble on short clovers.

This is the first strip of winter stockpile I’ve turned them onto this season.   The paddock size is 17.9 acres, but they’ve been alloted about 7, which as i said was far too much.  It’s grown pretty good although this is growth since May, not August- September, so the quality will not be as good and I’ll need to watch the condition of the cows as winter becomes more severe and they need more energy.   I estimated there are about 7 inches of forage at about 350 lbs per inch giving 2450# per acre.  Given the number of cows and calves in this mob, they eat about 6000# per day, so this 7 acre allotment should yield about 17,150 lbs or 3 days of grazing.  It will be interesting to see how close i get to the estimation.

Forecasting snow flurries by morning.

Shabbat Shalom!

tauna

tannachton farm 003tannachton farm 004

tannachton farm 001
Photo Bomb!!

 

Pluggin’ Away

We have been truly blessed to have splendid weather so far into the autumn season.  This has allowed a considerable amount of extra outdoor work to be accomplished – making up for the lack of such earlier in the year due to constant rain.

However, signs of winter are moving across the country, so it’s time to get serious about it.  We’ve been feeding some hay since it was nice and dry, but that seems to be past for a while, so back to grazing.  Too bad for deer hunters at all the rain this firearm season.

At all places, we’ll have set up two polywires across an ungrazed paddock ready for winter stockpile grazing.  With the warm weather, we’ve been able to keep the stock on paddocks with only a little regrowth, but that will soon change once the nighttime temperatures drop below freezing.  It’s important, too, to not graze too short this time of year unless you are purposefully doing so to ‘set back’ the existing grass and root system.

At my south Missouri farm, Dallas, Christian, and I worked nearly all daylight hours to set out hay bales for bale grazing, clearing brush, and building hi-tensile perimeter fence.

photos from camera 026
We took a pickup with a Hydra Bed bale moving system to leave in south Missouri, so we packed carefully to get all our junk to fit in the boot and the back seat of the car for the return to north Missouri.
photos from camera 027
To build that perimeter fence in south Missouri, I’m using this third wire from my existing fences up here.  This means, removing all the cotter clips from the post, then winding the wire back onto the spinning jenny.   Shown here is getting near to a 1/4 mile back onto the jenny.  Once our weather straightens out again, I’ll wind up another 1/4 mile, then a few more short pieces and that’s about all I can reasonably get on here.  It’s pretty darn heavy by that point and I’ll need help moving the spinning jenny loaded with that much wire.

Friday morning, however, we finished up and took some leisure time.  We don’t often do that.  Ziplining in the southwest Missouri Ozarks.  Branson Zipline  is an awesome place to go with great guides.  Fun time.  And, yes, even I stepped off the platform into a 100 foot freefall!

With cold weather coming, it’s time to address the livestock water tanks.  Allen sat down this morning to make a list of his tanks, which he’ll either shut off and drain or some he’ll turn on the leak valve and allow the water to run through the overflow pipe.  The moving water won’t freeze up.  He has 74 tanks to attend to while i only have 10!

Cheers!

tauna

 

 

 

Stuck In the House

What does a woman do when she is stuck inside due to extreme ragweed allergies!?  It is frustrating because the weather is starting to cool off and there is always SO much to be done outside.  Fences need repair, brush needs cutting, barns cleaned out, livestock needs shifting to new paddocks…… the list is endless.  Up until this year, youngest son, Nathan, would do my basic chores (shifting livestock, checking water) from mid-August to mid-October, but he is off to uni this fall, so the task has fallen to Rick, our new hand whom we hope stays on to become manager – he is certainly capable.  So, while I’m grateful,it’s frustrating as well.

So, after spending most of last week at my farm in south Missouri (Dallas and I were hoping our allergies would be somewhat alleviated, and surprisingly for me, i did find some relief, not so much for Dallas) and redesigning and setting up the working corral and trampling through a ‘jungle’ of a small timber patch to string out some polywire in preparation for fencing it off this winter and we started tearing out an old house, but wrong time of the year for that – i got stung on my upper lip just straight away.  OUCH!  brought tears to my eyes!

monday 002
Built up dust on the leading edges of ceiling fan blades.

This week, we are back home, so my major goal is to ‘fall’ clean the house.  Spiders have built webs in every nook and cranny inside and out, so lots of vacuuming and dusting.  Of course, I vacuum all the furniture; under and around the arms and cushions, and turn them over to vacuum the dirt and dust from underneath.  Cobwebs in the corners, from ceiling to walls, and walls to floors.  Climbing a ladder to wash off the center and blades of our two ceiling fans and dusting the leaves of our one inside plant.  Dusting the tops and back of wall photos and pictures, top of furniture, and all the wooden trim and doors.  And definitely under the floor grates which cover the return air ducts.

Cobwebs everywhere!
Cobwebs everywhere!

One tip I learnt as a travel consultant when on Fams and checking hotel rooms, was to run your finger along the top of doors and/or shower rods.  If there is dust, then the room is NOT clean.

Washing windows is sort of an outdoor job, so I can only do so much of that at a time before becoming overwhelmed with allergy attack.  But i can plug away at it.

Additionally, Monday i listed a bunch of unneeded items to sell on Ebay, paid bills, and RIck and i pulled the CIDRs, administered Estrumate, applied heat detection patches, and mouthed a few of the 17 recip cows because the needed ear tags and i didn’t know how old they were.  The ear tag number starts with the year they were born.  For example, a four year old cow’s number would start with a ‘1.’  This took about an hour, so i was struggling a bit by the time i could get back into the a/c.  Took a break, then went back out to let out the cows into the pasture south of our house for observing and ran water for them.

Of course, breakfast, lunch, and supper preparations are everyday.

Froze up a couple gallons of green beans, cooked down, slipped off the skins, and froze a gallon of tomatoes.

Until tomorrow!

tauna

Climbed up in the back of my Gator to drill a hole large enough for this solar lantern to fit snugly into.  When it's really dark outside, I can't even find our own driveway!  Hopefully this will help.
Climbed up in the back of my Gator to drill a hole large enough for this solar lantern to fit snugly into.  When it’s really dark outside, I can’t even find our own driveway!  Hopefully this will help.

Fences, Water tanks, and Corrals

What do farmers and ranchers do when they aren’t directly handling their stock?  To be sure maintenance of the infrastructure is at the top of the list!  Today was another day of such for me.  Dallas went with me, so with his help, we were able to accomplish more than twice what I can accomplish alone in the same amount of time.  Today was drizzly and muddy, but the temperature was mid-50s so that’s a good day to work outside.

It takes at least an hour to gather the materials and tools, plus loading a small bit of hay from the hayloft I’m cleaning out on the Buckman farm to haul up to my cows, fuel up, and head north.  The drive is about 35 minutes when the weather is good.  

We had a stretch of hi-tensile electric wire to repair which had been hit by deer and the wire had pulled through a gripple rendering this part of interior paddock fence completely useless.  So, the end post brace was reset and the wires reattached as well as patching the broken part.  All wires restretched with a gripple tensioning tool, then with the gate shut, electricity flowed freely to make the fence ‘hot.’

One water tank had lost its plug, so a couple days ago, I had to get creative and twisted a plug of hay and forced it through the hole.  Incredibly, this worked perfectly!  Absolutely no water came through.  However, I did replace the hay with the proper plug today.

It was still not quite dark, so we unloaded the polywire reel and some step in posts at the Bowyer barn (i’ll set them up next trip up), then went round the block (Cotton Road is FAR too muddy right now) to tie 2 inch by 3 inch welded wire 3 foot fence to four gates in the corral in preparation for mustering the sheep (hopefully tomorrow – weather permitting) and sorting off the ewe lambs I don’t want to get bred.

Even though it was all but dark, I wanted to get more steel posts pulled up and old barbed wire rolled up from around the old horse pond (small pond dug by horses way back in the old days).  So we managed about 7 posts and one strip of wire before the wind shifted and the rain started in serious and it was just flat out dark, dark, dark.   It’s a 35-40 minute drive home in the Gator, so we headed out.