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More Mob Grazing Pics

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PureCountry

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Here's some recent ones now that the heifers are on tame grass instead of the rye. That rye has now regrown 12-18" in 8 days. It's unreal what this sand will do with some rain and heat. As for tame grass, this pasture is amazing this year. 7 grasses and 5 legumes combined with careful "Holistic Management" planned grazing has worked well.

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Morning Dew
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First day moving in
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You can see the hotwire lifted up in the air in this one.
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The Water Wagon
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Day 2, they've moved on, and this is some aftermath
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Grazed on the left, fresh pasture on the right. We're leaving a fair bit of litter behind moving them quickly.
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The mob
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All that's left after I moved the mineral tub to a fresh patch of thistle
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They do a great job of hammering mole hills and gopher mounds too.
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They're getting friendlier all the time
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Soapweed

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Nice pictures. Looks like you have a good plan in place, and it is working.

This year, with the drought and extreme abundance of grasshoppers in this area, "stock-piled" grass is deteriorating on the stem even with no cattle in the pastures. Our spring was early, so we turned about two-thirds of our cattle out to grass on the 28th of April. Now, in early July, we have pastures that have not had a hoof on them since last summer that don't have as much grass in them as they did the first of May.
 

LazyWP

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Soapweed said:
Nice pictures. Looks like you have a good plan in place, and it is working.

This year, with the drought and extreme abundance of grasshoppers in this area, "stock-piled" grass is deteriorating on the stem even with no cattle in the pastures. Our spring was early, so we turned about two-thirds of our cattle out to grass on the 28th of April. Now, in early July, we have pastures that have not had a hoof on them since last summer that don't have as much grass in them as they did the first of May.

I am in the same boat here. We rotate pasture, and change our in pasture every year. The "in" pasture from last year had lots of regrowth, all most looked like I had not grazed it last year. Well as of right now, I have very little of last years grass standing, and almost NO green out there. This is a pasture that is very well proportioned with grasses. About equal warm and cool seasoned. My thoughts are, that we have so many hoppers, and they were living in last years grass, that they are eating off anything that comes up.
A nice 2 day soaking rain would sure help.
 

4Diamond

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Same shape here, beginning of last week we had a decent amount of standing forage over a foot tall. After 9 days of 100 degree heat it has burnt up and wilted away.
 

Faster horses

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Nothing green left to graze here and the cows break off as much as they
eat. Pastures aren't lasting near as long as usual. Gonna be interesting.
I saw the 90 day forcast (which I don't put a lot of stock in--besides
waiting to see if they are right or wrong~) said higher temperatures and
less than normal precipitation. We don't get much, if any precip in
July and August so don't know how it could be 'less'... :?

Good luck everyone! May the rain find us all!!!!!!!!
 

PureCountry

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You're all making me feel guilty for posting pictures of anything green!! :lol:

Stay positive folks. We've been there too. 2002 taught me a hard lesson about pasture management and destocking, 2009 drove it home even harder. Between drought, hoppers, caterpillars and more drought, they've taught me never to push the boundaries of my carrying capacity again.

I'll be thinking of all of you belly deep in lush grass and we'll see what the power of intention can do. :wink:

Soap, thanks for the positive comments.
 

LazyWP

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PureCountry said:
You're all making me feel guilty for posting pictures of anything green!! :lol:

Stay positive folks. We've been there too. 2002 taught me a hard lesson about pasture management and destocking, 2009 drove it home even harder. Between drought, hoppers, caterpillars and more drought, they've taught me never to push the boundaries of my carrying capacity again.

I'll be thinking of all of you belly deep in lush grass and we'll see what the power of intention can do. :wink:

Soap, thanks for the positive comments.

Just curious, do you feel that mob grazing benefits you enough to off set the added labor. I am not trying to start a fight, just curious.
I run between 200 and 250 pairs per bunch, and hauling water to that many isn't a real good option. From the Nebraska research I have seen, they are saying that rotational grazing, where you rotate every 4 to 6 weeks, has nearly the same benefits as intensive rational grazing, without near the labor.
Like I say, just curious.
 

WyomingRancher

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Very interesting pictures, looks like a slice of heaven to me :D . Thanks for showing us your grazing management in action, it's impressive stuff.
 

Big Swede

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I don't want to speak for Pure Country but in the research I've seen really well managed intensive grazing with that kind of density and hoof action and then the rest it gets the production is incredible. The buffalo would never have stayed in one spot for a month at a time back in the day and they are responsible for all the good species of grass we have today.
 

PureCountry

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4Diamond makes a good point, it depends alot on your environment. That said, in various ecosystems you simply have to adjust your rest period between grazings. On some of our native grass, we graze it once per year, and it gets to rest for at least 100-120 days, some of it won't be touched for a year or more. This is because in our region on an average rainfall year, that native prairie wool will not fully recover in less than 100 days. By fully recover I mean it's mature and heading out again. It's completing another life cycle.

The basis of mob grazing is to build topsoil. By grazing large, mature plants comprising thick dense swards, you are depositing an amazing amount of material into your top 6inches, as well as several feet down into your subsoil. Remember that whatever you see for top growth, is mirrored by root growth under the surface. When you look at my pictures I posted of all that alfalfa, milkvetch, sainfoin, clover, wheatgrass, bromegrass, creeping red fescue, etc, etc, imagine just how much root growth there is under the surface in the soil. Every time an animal takes a bite, there is some sluffing off of root mass. That root mass builds carbon and hundreds of other nutrients in the soil, which through the interaction of microorganisms, animal hoof action, manure, urine, rainfall and air pressure systems pushing and pulling oxygen and nitrogen-rich air through the topsoil, creates organic matter. The more organic matter on your soil that larger your sponge for holding moisture. It's that simple.

Anyway, to the other question, is it worthwhile? I spend an average over the season of 2 hours per day with these cattle. 400 head billed out at 80 cents/head/day = $320/day. So you can look at it as my gross pay is $160/hour.

OR

You can look at it per acre. THis year with lots of moisture we are going to graze these girls for 100 days on roughly 450 acres. $32,000 divided by 450 acres = $71.11 per acre gross. We had planned on drilling a well and setting up a pipeline watering system. It hasn't happened so I am hauling water. Next year with the water system in place, I will have less labour and the ability to graze 800-1000 head. The profit margin greatly improves in that scenario.

I have a couple of friends who are grazing much larger mobs than this, and making a profit at it. Some do it as their sole income, others as an enterprise within the farm. Neil Dennis, Steve Kenyon, Bruce Downey are all guys I have read about, talked to or spent time on their farms seeing the results and learning how to adapt it to my place. When I was at Bruce Downey's place some years ago, it was bone dry throughout the country, but his place was still green and he had regrowth taller than his neighbor's first growth. He was running 2,000 yearlings in one mob, charging 75 cents per day. I like that math. $150,000 gross pay in 100 days of grazing. That size of a mob gets to be much more work of course.

As for moving every 4-6 weeks being as good as mob grazing, I can't see that at all. There are alot of variables to know before we could discuss that. If you put 100 pairs in a section of pasture for 5 weeks, they are going to graze the best meadows down low, other stuff a bit, and some acres not at all. Lots of litter would be left standing instead of trampled over. If it's standing it's oxidizing into the atmosphere, instead of decomposing into the soil where we want it. Nutrients are going to take many, many more years to recycle in that system, especially in arid environments like ours where decomposition is slow at the best of times.

In a mob grazing scenario, the animals are grazing the top third of the plant, and being moved on. This has many benefits:
-The top third of the plant is the highest energy, better animal performance
-Leaving lots of the plant behind means it has plenty of leaves acting as solar panels to absorb sunlight and get regrowth happening quicker
-Getting the litter trampled so it makes contact with the soil is crucial to kick start the decomposition process. Grazing something with low stocking rates over a large area for 4-6 weeks would not do that other than in a few select areas around mineral licks or water holes.
-So no, I guess I don't agree with that study, but like I said, lots of variables and unknowns.

In all, I think it's like anything else. If you think it will work for you, try it on a small scale and see how you do. If it doesn't work, don't go telling everyone it's a failure, it simply didn't work for you. It's no different than feedlots, cake, ivomec, implants, swath grazing or any other thing we've discussed at length on here over the years. Good for some, not for others. For us, it is easy cash flow and lower risk than any other enterprise we do. It gives us financial breathing room so we don't have to work so hard at marketing meat or working off-farm to make ends meet. I don't mind work, but if I can make my living off my own land, and be greatly improving my topsoil along the way, I'm a happy man. :wink:
 

mrj

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No problem with you posting your 'bounty' of green grass since it gives me hope for better days when we are in a drought, and we are about in that category now.

I do wonder how native grass pastures react to that faster form of rotational grazing, and we also have a very wide range of grasses and forbs. We mostly have rather large pastures and rely on the wind to move the cattle around naturally. The costs in time and fencing seem daunting!

mrj
 

Big Swede

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That was a very educational and interesting post Pure Country. I hope you keep us updated on your progress.
 

PureCountry

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Average rainfall is supposedly 13" between May 1st and October 1st. Average snowfall is 12-15" in that other season. These are "Official" numbers, but it varies greatly. When Kit Pharo was on our place a few years back he couldn't believe we get that little rain because we have so much bush. It's weird how the trees can grow quick in this sand at times, although most of them never get more than 20' tall.
 

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