Thursday, May 10, 2012
I have made several observations the past few weeks while walking thru the Goat Ranch. We fertilized with one ton of chicken litter over about 1200 acres late last fall. We didn't get any rain on it at all so got no grass growth last year. A few of our pasures look better than they ever have. The North Rock Barn pasture and the Rock Barn pasture have more grass this year than they've ever had. The Cabin pasture and the South Center have decent grass but have been better. The Stocker pasture (was grazed late and hard and didn't get any litter) looks worse than it has in a few years. The stocker pasture has been mob grazed more than any pasture on the ranch and it's had grass so heavy you could barely walk thru it, but this year it's just not that great. My disappointment is that it appears that a person will need to mob graze continuously to get results each year...you can't quit mob grazing for a year and still have great grass. I also haven't seen much earth worm activity or castings. I am wondering if the severe drought may have hurt their population a bit. Looking back, I forgot how dry it got at the ranch and I'm thrilled that we didn't have to feed cows last winter. I should probably be very happy with the way the pastures look, but I'm not. I'm anxious to get our mob grazing program started back up! I think these young, thin open cows could be an ideal candidate to put into a mob and graze. We are just getting going, but already we see the cows stripping the oak sprouts bare and devouring the blackberry sprouts. I went back to areas where I knew we had big thickets of blackberrys and there are only a handful of young tender sprouts that I know will get eaten when we graze those areas. I'm starting to get excited and will keep you posted as to our results. I promise I will have some pictures in the very near future to share.
Tuesday, May 8, 2012
I will keep this post relatively short. I will be posting much more often in the coming weeks/months as we start mob grazing a large group of thin open cows that we are in the process of purchasing. Spring arrived about a month early this year. After last years drought, the cheat has just exploded this spring. Our pastures are lush with cheat and hop clover...it's just been perfect conditions for those plants to flourish. We've done a small amount of spraying for musk thistle and will likely need to do more next year...it appears to have survived the drought very well. I'm disappointed in the fescue. What remains is doing well but it appears that we may have lost some plant density in the drought. I will be anxious to see what our pastures look like when the cheat and hop clover go away. This years plan is to calve out our cows at the goat ranch (they should start calving in a week or so) using a 3 day rotation. There should be enough grass east of the creek to hold them thru calving when we will move them to Mickeys. The thin cows we are buying will be mob grazed west of the creek. We hope to put together 400-500 head. Our plan is to run bull with them, put some weight on them, and sell them in August. The longer term plan is to have the Goat Ranch empty come September, stockpile grass and run stockers Jan-July.