Thursday, September 20, 2007

Quality Pasture :: Chapter 8 Book Report

Yesterday I finished reading chapter eight of "Quality Pasture" by Allan Nation. This chapter was entitled Climate and it's Effect. It was a pretty interesting chapter dealing with temperature, precipitation, and more. As with other chapters it spent a decent amount of time discussing applications with grass based dairy operations, but I also noticed a slight focus on the southern part of the United States which makes sense because I believe he is based in Mississippi.

One thing that I found especially interesting in this chapter was his discussion of shade. Mr. Nation's contention was that shade is not always needed. He spoke about the ability of cattle to adjust to climates when they are given time and the fact that it is still the same temperature under the shade as in the sun. He believes that you either need to have plenty of spreed out shade for your entire herd or none at all. Another thing he points out is that if you are going to use trees as shade devices they should have all branches trimmed twenty feet up. This will make the shade move quite a bit during the day and will force the cattle to spread out during their day. Another interesting idea he gave was to give cattle multiple small breaks of grass during hot days. His contention is that cattle will forget about the heat if they have enough tasty food.

He also gave a lot of great tips for drought management. The thing about a drought is the question isn't if, but rather when it will happen. He writes about needing to have a drought plan in place early on in your Management Intensive Grazing progression. It is important that you begin building up a stockpile of stored forages right away because feeding hay in a drought instead of letting them to continue to eat down your suffering pastures will help those pastures bounce back so much more quickly when you finally do get rain.

I'm looking forward to the last few chapters of this book. I have continued debating in my mind the differences between Mr. Nation's high input methods and the lower input method of Joel Salatin. The more I read the more I appreciate the ideas of Mr. Salatin and I can't wait to put them to work and see some of the results with my own eyes ... that being said, I think my dad will be putting some lime down this fall or winter in order to jump start some pastures for the animals and for our hay. We will see how that goes for our farm.

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