What is in this article?:
- Kentucky cattleman grazes herd straight through winter
- Acreage increased during summer
• Many could not fathom what it would be like to feed little or no hay in December, January and February.
• But it’s a reality for one Murray producer, thanks to the practices he learned through University of Kentucky Cooperative Extension Service programs.
Acreage increased during summer
In the summer, these plots are increased to six acres for his rotational grazing program. He has a total of 11 grazing plots, so each section gets 10 weeks of rest after the cattle graze.
Reynolds said they came up with the plot sizes and numbers on a trial-and-error basis and these numbers would be different for each operation based on their number of cattle and acreage. Reynolds feels that he could handle 20 more cow/calf pairs under his current grazing system.
To further enhance his operation, Reynolds attended UK’s Master Cattleman program and received advice from Roy Burris, UK Extension beef specialist and Kevin Laurent, UK Extension associate for beef and swine.
Reynolds said the grazing system takes little time to maintain once it’s in place, which is beneficial to him, as he has a full-time, off-farm job too.
“It only takes about an hour once a week to put up additional posts, string new temporary fencing and then take down the previous fencing and remove those other posts,” Reynolds said.
Lacefield agrees that implementing a grazing system is something every producer can do to improve the bottom line.
Separate studies in Missouri and Illinois compared the cost of stored feed in the winter to other forms of grazing management. In both studies, stored feed had the highest cost per cow per day.
“Getting into a grazing system is not complicated or expensive, but it does require some planning,” he said.
In addition, Reynolds seeded red clover and orchardgrass into his tall fescue pastures to mitigate the effects of the tall fescue endophyte found in many tall fescue stands in the state. The endophyte can cause disorders in grazing animals. The clover makes the pasture more palatable and adds nutrients to the animal’s diet. Plus, as a legume, it removes nitrogen from the air and adds it to the soil, which in turn fertilizes the fescue.
Reynolds is also establishing an area of warm-season grasses the cattle can graze in the summer months when tall fescue, a cool-season grass, is at its worst. This was another practice he learned at the grazing school.
He’s fenced his cattle away from the ponds where possible and has worked with the local soil and water conservation district to install a gravity flow tank that allows the cattle to drink the pond water without contaminating their water source.
Two Kentucky Grazing Schools are planned this year. The first is April 10-11 at the UK Research and Education Center in Princeton. The second is Sept. 11-12 at the Woodford County extension office.
For more information, visit the UK Grazing website at http://www2.ca.uky.edu/grazer/.