Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Spring has sprung

The grass is really starting to green up at the ranch. I'd say we have an inch or two of new growth and with a nice rain a few days ago and 75 degree sunny weather today and tomorrow, I'm hoping the grass really starts to pop. We are pretty much out of stockpiled forage and so will now begin the very frustrating task of "chasing grass". With only a few hundred head of our calves and a few hundred cows at the ranch now, the grass should handily out pace them. We hope to have everything off by July and stockpile forage until bringing stockers in in Dec-Jan. I have to say I'm pretty happy with the grass at the ranch. It looks a little better than the neighbors and I'm confident that it will quickly out pace any other pasture in the least that's what I'm hoping. I was going to take some pics, but there just wasn't anything very compelling to show.

Our calves are framey and not overly fleshy so should do very well on the spring flush. The biggest concern is the high protein in this early grass/legumes that produces the sheet-cake manure...I don't think the calves do very well when that rumen is clearly out of sorts. I've discussed with Hal (at length) the possibility of keeping stockpile all the way up into May so that the cattle are never eating that new growth fescue/clover that creates issues. I also hate chasing grass...I know that when the grass is only 3-6 inches tall, a single bite takes it down to the ground and that is NOT what any grazier wants to see. To run on stockpiled forage up into May will require a lot of management, and most likely push our stocker purchase back into late Jan or even Feb. We would like to keep the stockers for 150 days. If we want to run on stockpile until May 1, then we would turn cattle in 75 days prior to May 1 (Feb 15) and pull out 75 days after (July 15). I am very concerned about water quality if we keep the calves into July, but have decided that if we make 150, 10 acre pastures (about what we have done in the past), we could move twice a day and hopefully be able to get to fresh water at least twice a day. I think this is very workable. I will go through my calculations in a future post of how we are going to determine our stocking rate.

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