Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Pasture Observations

I have been moving our animals every day onto fresh pasture for 10 years.
Notice the animals are anxious they know I'm about to move them. It is very easy I just lift a section of the fence and they run into the next paddock.
Here they are on the other side contentedly grazing.
Here can be seen how I have the fence divided up into three paddocks, this is something new for me. How I had it before was one 82x82 foot square I still have it set up like this the difference is the that now this 82x82 square is divided. And I am moving the herd three times in 24 hours at present. By doing it this way I have increased the herd impact on the the area fenced in.
Look at this photo it has a noticeable greener thicker path of grasses and weeds. This was where we fed hay 3 years ago when we ran out of grass. At the time I thought grass seed from the hay made this spot grow more grass. But now I am more inclined to think it was increased herd impact. The hay might have had a little seed in it but I now think that the hay concentrated the the herd within the 82x 82 foot paddock much like I am doing now.
Before we started grazing this land 5 years ago this photo and the one below would have looked much the same. All that could grow was moss, but by grazing it the moss has been disappearing more and more each year.
This photo of the moss was taken only 15 to 20 feet away from the photo above. It is amazing what grazers can do. I hope to do a better job this year of concentrating the herd impact on this moss and see if it go away faster.
Also since concentrating the herd I have notice that the manure is more evenly dropped about and stepped on.
Recently I learned that in three years there should be a cow pie dropped on every square foot of the pasture. The greener spots are where an old cow pie is so it is ease to see that this can be accomplished soon.
One thing I have noticed is that on the poorer ground the manure dose not rot fast and can sit for years. This is because there is not very many earth worms, dung beetles, and microbes. I hope that this will change with the increased herd impact.

These are sheep droppings that have not rotted ether. With the right herd impaction all the dead vegetation will be pressed in to the soil by the herds hoofs. This will increase the hummus and in turn the earth worms, dung beetles, and microbes.
On the good soil in our pasture there is a better balance of earth worms, dung beetles, and microbes. This lush spot of grass is where a cow pie was last year, it has completely disappeared.
The dung beetles have started to clean this cow pie up. When a animal is treated for parasites with a chemical wormer it makes their droppings poisonous and kills the beetles.
I will be taking a photo of the grass between these three stones once a month to monitor the growth.
I have been doing the same thing with the cows too, and since they are a heavier animal it is easer to see what their hoofs are doing to the soil.
As can be seen here, notice the impression in the center of the photo.
Another new thing I have learned is that there is no such thing as over grazing but should be called under rested. And that a paddock should not be re grazed for a minimum of 90 days. Notice the definite grazed and ungrazed line.

This post is not to teach the concept of healing land holistically, but is what I am learning at present, and what I have observed in the past. I want all the praise and glory to go to The Creator and maker of the plants and beasts of the land. And many thanks to those who have set me on the right track of holistic grazing, primarily Cody Holmes of rock'n H ranch, and Julius Ruechel through his book Grass-Fed Cattle.

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