Managed Intensive Grazing- forages must be “harvested” before seedheads are produced. This keeps the forage in a vegetative state and therefore increases yield. Paddocks need to be small enough to evenly distribute manure. Duration needs to be short enough to not allow re-grazing. To accomplish this, we employ electric poly-wire fencing, move cattle daily (usually), and give each paddock a 30 day rest or more.
Bale Grazing- not only do we bring nutrients on to the farm through the purchase of quality hay, but we distribute the manure evenly by the placement of the bales. Feeding is controlled by using poly-wire and allowing only access to their daily needs.
Stockpiled Forages- works real well in conjunction with bale grazing. Cattle are given a new paddock daily with stockpiled fescue. Stockpiled fescue will retain it nutrient qualities throughout winter and is desired by cattle after a heavy frost has killed the endophyte that it is often infected with and the starch turns to sugar. Cattle will eat the fescue before touching a bale.
Annuals- winter and summer annuals are a great way to increase yield and extend grazing seasons or renovate pastures. My favorites are turnips, sorghum-sudan, and cereal rye.
Mineral program- We offer 3 types of supplements that are all labeled for organic use and are in separate compartments available free choice for the cattle to consume as needed. We use Fertrell’s Graziers Choice, Thorvin Kelp, and Redmond Salt.
Deep pack mulch bedding- Joel Salatin introduced us to this concept, although he refers to it as his “hay shed”. The cattle are kept under roof during the cold wet part of winter when the soil outside is unable to assimilate the nutrients due to the temperature and are lost. Cattle need less hay to maintain body temperature since they are not wet and they are laying on a deep pack mulch bed that is generating some heat. The nutrients are locked up in the carbon material that will later be composted and spread out on the fields. We recently built a hoop barn to utilize this practice and the operation has proved invaluable.