Sunday, October 27, 2013

Pasture Managment

Well I've been meaning to do a post on my adventures in rotational grazing since mid-summer. So here is a quick glimpse of some things I did with some rather sad pasture land this summer. We have taken over two sections of land for grazing: one was in CRP(Conservation Reserve Program) for 10+ years and the other is old pasture that was overgrazed by horses for who knows how long. This post will touch on the old pasture.

Last year we lacked movable fencing so we did not do any rotational grazing so this pasture was over taken by giant ragweed, reed canarygrass, goldenrod, burdock, thistle etc.. This year all these weeds were there but with the power of the goats and cows (and me), they have been knocked back significantly. In order to use the movable fencing I needed to actually 'mow' a path so I could put the fencing into the ground. Below is a picture of my tool of choice.
Stihl FS90 with a course grass/brush attachment and a fine brush attachment.
The course blade is good for tall weeds and small brush under an inch thick.

Not an unusual scene in our pastures before grazing. Notice the movable fencing in bottom of picture and that handsome devil among the burdock.

 With the pasture in such bad shape I would mow myself some paths for the fencing, set up the fencing and let the animals graze/browse. After the animals had pretty much everything cleaned up, I would then go through with my brush mower to clean up anything they left behind. The idea here is to get most of the weeds knocked down to 1. stunt the weed's growth 2. open up the turf for more desirable plants. At this point almost anything is more desirable, but dandelions, timothy, clover and orchard grass would be nice.

This is what the pasture looked like before grazing. Notice anything in the photo?

After animals, before 'mowing'.
After 'mowing' with the brush cutter.
Pasture now. Notice some clover, dandelion and orchard grass. There is also some thistle and others I do not know.
I'm pretty happy with the picture above. Weeds will continue to be an issue for awhile. Especially thistle, since no animal will touch it. Earlier this summer you had to look for dandelions and clover, now you don't have to really look for them.

Anyway, I'll leave it at this for now. One last picture of the animals in an area that was overtaken by  reed canarygrass that was over 6 feet tall earlier this spring. This is their third time through this area. Canarygrass is notorious for overtaking areas because it grows so tall and all that biomass covers the ground and nothing is able to compete.

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