Tuesday, June 03, 2008

Grass-Fed Cattle :: Chapter 4 Book Report

It has been a really long time since I have posted a chapter report from Julius Ruechel's book, "Grass-Fed Cattle". But, that doesn't mean I haven't been reading, rather it just means that I have been jumping around quite a bit from book to book or article to article. I'm not sure if it is just because I'm looking for certain information at times, if I just to care for this book as much, or if so much of what I have read so far in Mr. Ruechel's book is a repeat of much of the information I have read in other sources. I'm going to say that it is the later of the reasons, but that isn't to say that there aren't chapters that I'm looking forward to ... because there are!

Anyways, this chapter is titled "Grass and Grazing" and it takes time to cover things like the rumen, ideal grazing intervals, soil health, and even different grass variates and pasture renovation. Each topic covered is very important in the realm of grass-fed cattle, but most are ones that I have covered a time or two on this blog and that I have read about in other books. But, the last little section on pasture rejuvenation was especially interesting to me ... mainly because that is a process that I am working through right now (and planning for).

Mr. Ruechel writes,
"Changing your grazing management inevitably improves old pastures, even without reseeding or overseeding (laying grass seed onto an existing turf) because it creates an environment that makes desirable plant species more competitive and restricts competition from less-desirable grazing plants."
The other day while I was at my dad's farm I found that to be completely true (and it is pretty cool also). For most of the time my family has owned our farm much of the pasture ground has been enrolled in the CRP program, but in 2006 and 2007 all of the land came out. While it was in CRP we weren't allowed to mow the entire plot, but you could mow the fence line or a path (or something like that), so since my dad test drives lawn mowers he always keep the fence line mowed (or could you call it grazed).

Now we have the Dexters out on some of the CRP ground that just came out last year and I just want to say the grass is horrible! When it is about 10 inches or more taller it looks like a thick stand of grass, but once you clip it down to about 6-8 inches you can tell it is very sparse and doesn't grow very well. We were told that it was fescue, but I don't think it is. But, in the 5 foot area that was kept clipped for the past 5-6 years there is white clover, red clover, and three or four different types of grasses, and it is very thick and quick to recover.

This pasture improved because it was managed and we didn't even need to buy seed or till anything under to do it! Now that we have the cows there we can have them do it for us (until some of them come up to my place to do the same thing). Of course at some point we may want to overseed some different grasses or legumes, but it is impressive what can happen when you let the pasture and the cows do their thing!


Steven said...

If you haven't read Salatin's article on Mob Grazing yet, you must!

Dennis said...

We are using management intensive grazing on our ranch in Arkansas. We have been doing it for two years and the results have been amazing in terms of both cattle and pasture improvement. I wouldn't go back to free range grazing for anything. We raise red Brahman and horned Hereford cattle. Our intension is to become a natural grass fed operation.

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