For healthier cattle pastures, it is essential to maintain strategy and accurate management practices to control the level of grazing by the cattle. Overgrazing and under-grazing can both be equally problematic for the quality of pastures.
Overgrazing of pastures leads to the weakening of productive grasses. It causes the pastures to grow slower and reduces the area of the leaves as well. As a result, these plants are replaced by unproductive or unwanted species. Overgrazing, resulting in a pasture with less coverage, increases soil temperature, ultimately reducing the overall quality of cattle pasture.
On average, cattle graze for around 8 hours each day. The young and leafy upper parts of the plants provide the highest nutritional value to the cattle. Therefore, if the cattle graze too close to the stem, they do not receive the required nutrients. This creates a cycle of overgrazing and the development of malnutrition in the pasture.
For healthy growth of pastures and cattle, sectioning off one large pasture into multiple, smaller paddocks allows for a rotational grazing routine that doesn’t lead to overgrazing. It is essential for the cattle to have adequate space to graze and enough grass to feed on. When there are several paddocks, the cattle can be moved to the most recovered ones first so the others can replenish their growth.
The best strategy for managing healthy levels of grazing is to divide it into short periods of cattle grazing. Identify the highest quality grasses and have your cattle graze on them first. As a rule of thumb, ensuring that the pasture isn’t grazed beyond a 2-4 inches height is a productive measure.
On the other hand, if you limit cattle grazing excessively, the under grazing of pastures can cause their forage to accumulate. The development of woody species and briars can begin to overgrow -- thus, maintaining a healthy grazing frequency is essential.
Allow the Land Time to Recover
Your grazing land also needs a recovery period to regrow and replenish. Once the cattle have grazed a paddock, move them to a new one so the previous can recover. The more time it gets to recover, the higher quality nutrients it will be able to produce. It will also allow the roots to grow stronger so the cattle don’t uproot them as easily while grazing.
Applying fertilizers efficiently is another great step towards healthier cattle pastures. If you have permanent pastures, performing a soil test can help identify the best type and method of fertilizer application.
Grange Co-op offers a variety of agronomy services at Fertilizer and Professional Products facility located in Central Point, OR. Including but not limited to, an International spreader/floater with an 8-ton capacity and a 70-foot spread as well as a Raven GPS controller and auto steer attached. The Freightliner truck and tender trailer have a 16-ton capacity.
Equipment like this simplifies older practices in fertilizing. This equipment quickens traditional spreading methods, allowing customers more time for other projects. For more information on utilizing these services for your production, contact Grange Co-op Agronomy at 541-664-3993.
Grange Co-op fertilizer and professional products can test your soil for PH, buffer PH, and nutrient levels. The soil analysis includes detailed results and recommendations specific to your soils.
Control the Type of Plants and Weeds
Good grazing management keeps the growth of unwanted weeds at a minimum. The cattle only feed on some weeds when they are young, so if your grazing schedule is regular, they will never grow beyond an acceptable point. However, sometimes paddocks can get crowded due to invasive weeds that might require regular clipping or complete elimination based on how poisonous or nutritious they are.
Grange Co-op Fertilizer and Professional Products employees a crop adviser certified through the American Society of Agronomy, and a licensed Oregon Pest Control Consultant. Andy Smith, Grange Co-op’s Agronomist can guide you from soil preparation and planting, through stand establishment and harvest. You can contact Andy or any one of our knowledgeable Fertilizer employees at 541-664-3993.
Legumes are an integral part of a healthy pasture because they provide nitrogen and increase the yield and quality of existing pastures. It is essential to maintain legumes with efficient grazing. Grass and legumes must be provided with high lime fertilizer levels to stay productive.
Grange Co-op is southern Oregon’s leading supplier of seed for forage crops. Because forage crops such as pasture, hay, green chop and silage are so important to the agriculture economy, Grange Co-op strives to provide customers with the highest quality seed at competitive prices. We are also committed to providing customers with the information necessary to select the forage seed best suited to their needs as well as their growing environment. Grange Co-op stocks the types and varieties of seed that have proven best adapted to the soils and growing conditions in the Rogue Valley. For more information on the resources and assistance available at Grange Co-op, visit a Forage Crops blog.
Provide Water Supply
When the livestock is grazing, it is productive to have a water supply within 600 feet of them so they can easily access it. Making water accessible for the livestock prevents them from losing the energy to look for it.
As a result, the grazing patterns remain uniform and animal performance is enhanced. It is also imperative to focus on the quality of water that is provided to them. Cattle, as with all livestock, require clean, fresh drinking water to thrive.
Maintaining a healthy pasture is essential for healthy livestock. Taking the time to prepare your pasture for the appropriate head of cattle is not only responsible but required for success. As we’ve reviewed, there are several factors that affect pasture growth and health. Enriching and maximizing the nutritional and growth value of pastures can be achieved!
For more information on pasture maintenance, read more on GrangeKnows blog, or visit us in-store to speak with a Grange Farm and Ranch Expert.