Updated: Nov 11
Welcome back to the blog y’all! This week’s topic will be all about rotational grazing. As most of y’all know, we recently had our cross-fencing installed which has allowed us to implement rotational grazing.
Rotational grazing essentially is dividing up your pasture into multiple segments and only allowing livestock to graze one segment at a time. This is a simple practice with some huge benefits.
First, we know that livestock generally do not graze evenly when given access to large pastures. They will eat some areas of grass down to the ground while leaving other areas two feet tall or more. However, when only given access to smaller pastures, they tend to graze more evenly. This allows them to take full advantage of the nutritional quality of the grass you grow. When grass is shorter it has a higher nutritional quality, but grows slower. When grass is longer, it tends to grow faster because the larger blades catch more sunshine. Unfortunately the taller grass also starts to lose its nutritional quality because it starts to transition into its reproductive phase. During the reproductive phase, the grass becomes less digestible and begins to grow seed heads. The seed heads can irritate cattle’s eyes and in worse case scenarios even cause pink eye.
Second, we have learned that rotational grazing allows for a more even distribution of manure and urine. This allows for better long term health of the pasture grass due to even fertilization.
Third, rotational grazing allows the pasture to rest. Cows are heavy animals, our cows weigh roughly 700 pounds. All that weight trampling on the grass and soil can really take a toll, especially since our cows tend to have their favorite spots to lay down and chew the cud or to sleep. Over time those high trafficked areas can become bare because the soil becomes too compacted for grass growth.
When we started planning for rotational grazing we thought that our property’s odd shape would make it difficult to divide the pasture, but it ended up actually being a perfect setup. We split our pasture into 3 pie shaped segments. Each segment funnels into our barn lot where we feed, water, and provide shelter. We also designed it this way because cows are naturally drawn to corners. All of our gates are in a corner to easily drive them from one segment to either the barn lot or another segment.
In life, we are sometimes like the grass in rotational grazing. We can provide so much good for others, but it must be managed properly. In previous blog posts, we mentioned the importance of rest. If we overgraze our lives, and don’t take time to rest, it puts us in a vulnerable situation and it takes us much longer to actually grow back to where we can be productive and benefit others. Conversely, if we don’t use our gifts properly, for the benefit of others, we just grow to a state that we no longer are nutritious, but solely self-centered on our own goals and growth. We lose the beneficial qualities and can sometimes even cause harm. I think there is a happy place where we are living a healthy selfless life, placing others above ourselves, but also leaving enough behind to rest our souls so that we can regrow and continue to be impactful. When managed properly, rotational grazing can produce up to 2 tons more grass for food per acre. And, I think when we properly manage our selfless living, we can provide so much more quality and quantity of impact to others.
Thank you all for taking the time to read about our farm and life journey. I hope that we can be informative and impactful for y’all. Let us know how we can pray for you!