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 Seeking advice for improving pasture quality
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CloversMum

3473 Posts


Posted - Mar 10 2014 :  9:34:18 PM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
We moved to our land about four years ago and the land had previously been in the CRP program. Originally, it was farm land but had not been farmed for over 20 years. Now, we would like to improve our pasture, making grazing more profitable for our Jersey girls. We grazed a few head of steer last year and rotated them over several acres; then, we also had lots of chickens that we let free-range behind the cows. Is there anything else that we could be doing to improve the quality of our pasture? We were able to bale several tons of hay from the pastures, but the average per acre was quite low. Our farm critters have enjoyed the hay over this past winter! We would like to improve it as naturally as possible... but yet, as quickly as possible. Am I asking for the impossible?

Loving life and family on our Idaho farm, Meadowlark Heritage Farm; 1 Jersey cow; 1 Guernsey cow; 1 Guernsey steer calf; Oberhasli & Guernsey goats, ducks and chickens

maryjane

6764 Posts


Posted - Mar 12 2014 :  09:08:40 AM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
I'm definitely a work-in-progress when it comes to pastures. I have troublesome wet spots, plus I still haven't figured out a good rotational system but I get an "A" so far for trying. If you come across any good advice particular to the Palouse, let me know! I'm thinking I might try to consult with someone at either of the universities. I do have several fencing projects I need to get started on as soon as it dries out a bit more.

I also need to learn more about the ecology of ponds and how to keep mine free of algae. I've tried an expensive pump that didn't do much and some natural additives that kinda worked but ... Never a dull moment, right?

MaryJane Butters, author of Milk Cow Kitchen ~ striving for the stoicism of a cow standing in the rain ~
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CloversMum

3473 Posts


Posted - Mar 14 2014 :  11:22:40 AM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
I will see what I can learn from tomorrow's conference as I am planning to attend the Women in Agriculture Conference at Washington State University. The website states that it is a "one-day, three-state gathering taking place simultaneously in 28 locations in WA, ID, and OR. It will feature knowledgeable speakers, inspiring stories, and practical advice on how to improve your farm management skills." Maybe I'll learn more information about improving pastures! If so, I'll share it after the conference. I am really thrilled and this will be my first "farming conference." :-)

Loving life and family on our Idaho farm, Meadowlark Heritage Farm; 1 Jersey cow; 1 Guernsey cow; 1 Guernsey steer calf; Oberhasli & Guernsey goats, ducks and chickens
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maryjane

6764 Posts


Posted - Mar 14 2014 :  1:19:52 PM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
What a great opportunity. Ha, milk it for all it's worth:) Raise your hand for pasture help. I could use advice too!

MaryJane Butters, author of Milk Cow Kitchen ~ striving for the stoicism of a cow standing in the rain ~
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CloversMum

3473 Posts


Posted - Mar 16 2014 :  5:14:40 PM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
The Women in Agriculture Conference yesterday was very interesting. I feel slightly overloaded with new information! But thankful for it all as I go through my notes to solidify some of the talks. One of the main items that I hope to complete is to contact our local conservation district. It appears that they have assistance available to new farmers, especially those who have smaller acreage. I hope to get some advice from them on how to continue to improve the soil quality and to look into other resources that might be available for help with fencing and rotational-type fencing.

Loving life and family on our Idaho farm, Meadowlark Heritage Farm; 1 Jersey cow; 1 Guernsey cow; 1 Guernsey steer calf; Oberhasli & Guernsey goats, ducks and chickens
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maryjane

6764 Posts


Posted - Mar 20 2014 :  06:25:35 AM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
I just don't think you can throw out a wide enough net when it comes to advice about pastures. I had a gorgeous, well-established pasture for my cows when along came that nasty new weed, Ventenata dubia (also called wiregrass) and I had to change what I was doing so that I mowed the pasture more often with our tractor so it wouldn't go to seed and spread. The cows ate around the Ventenata patches but in the process ate a little bit of it (it's apparently more problematic if a horse eats it because the barbed seed heads get lodged in their gums and mouth). It looks like mowing it several times has decreased the spread of it. It hit our beautiful field like a fast-moving rash when it came our way. At the time it showed up here, the University was just beginning to see it as a problem on the Palouse also, so good knowledge on it seems spotty.

MaryJane Butters, author of Milk Cow Kitchen ~ striving for the stoicism of a cow standing in the rain ~
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CloversMum

3473 Posts


Posted - Mar 22 2014 :  9:14:43 PM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
I have heard about Ventenata dubia just recently. I also heard that mowing can help control it as well as making sure the pasture is growing good grasses/clovers so those plants can crowd out the Ventenata dubia. Others recommend spraying; but, I'd much rather approach it in a holistic manner if at all possible. I suspect we have a little of it in our fields that have come out of CRP. Did you reseed your pasture at all? If you did, what did you reseed it with?

Loving life and family on our Idaho farm, Meadowlark Heritage Farm; 1 Jersey cow; 1 Guernsey cow; 1 Guernsey steer calf; Oberhasli & Guernsey goats, ducks and chickens
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maryjane

6764 Posts


Posted - Mar 23 2014 :  9:14:57 PM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
I didn't reseed it. I can't take it out of pasture for that long. I'll continue to work with it by cutting it. It seems to be helping. I haven't heard if there's a spray yet that works. What have you heard?

MaryJane Butters, author of Milk Cow Kitchen ~ striving for the stoicism of a cow standing in the rain ~
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CloversMum

3473 Posts


Posted - Mar 30 2014 :  9:19:21 PM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
Here are some facts I learned about Ventenata from the NRCS (Natural Resources Conservation Service).
This weed can be grazed during the early spring, but the nutritional value is minimal. Once the stems harden, it is unpalatable. In fact, it cannot be mowed during heading as the plant will simply bend and become tangled in the swather. But prior to the plant heading, one way of controlling this weed is to mow it several times throughout the growing season. It controls it because it keeps the plant from producing seed. Ventenata seed is only viable for a few years which means if you are aggressive in controlling it, you can succeed. The recommendation for keeping Ventenata at bay is to maintain healthy perennial vegetation (which is what we all strive for!). The information I received from NRCS said that in pastures, the successful use of registered herbicides is quite limited. The article said that "Imazapic applied in the fall to semi-dormant perennial grass stands has been effective, particularly when Ventenata comprises more than a quarter of the vegetative ground cover." It goes on to recommend applying fertilizers in the spring to help the good grasses to recover from the chemicals applied in the fall. I think that continuing to mow the pasture sounds like a good option. How long have you been battling the Ventenata, MaryJane?

Loving life and family on our Idaho farm, Meadowlark Heritage Farm; 1 Jersey cow; 1 Guernsey cow; 1 Guernsey steer calf; Oberhasli & Guernsey goats, ducks and chickens
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maryjane

6764 Posts


Posted - Apr 01 2014 :  12:55:47 AM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
I started seeing it three years ago when I noticed small areas in my pastures that the horses weren't eating and the green looked kind of smoky or dusty green.

We did fertilize that area last fall and seem to be getting a handle on it with aggressive late season mowing. Also I've noticed that cows will eat it when it's young and green but horses won't. Now that I'm grazing only cows, I think I'm going to be able to control it.
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CloversMum

3473 Posts


Posted - May 04 2014 :  8:31:41 PM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
This week's goal is to reseed part of one of our pastures. Unfortunately, we allowed it to become overgrazed last year and now we are paying for it. But I understand that there is a good local pasture seed mix that contains different kinds of seeds. The pasture is on a hill (isn't everything here on the Palouse?) and is only a few acres so we are planning on broadcasting it and just walking the field. It is almost too late, but I am hoping for a little more rain after it gets seeded. We will keep the animals off of it so it can grow. Boy, there is a lot to learn for new farmers! And a large portion seems to be trial and error for us right now!

Loving life and family on our Idaho farm, Meadowlark Heritage Farm; 1 Jersey cow; 1 Guernsey cow; 1 Guernsey steer calf; Oberhasli & Guernsey goats, ducks and chickens
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maryjane

6764 Posts


Posted - May 12 2014 :  2:48:00 PM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
Did you get it reseeded before it stopped raining? I think we're in for some sunshine this coming week. Hurray!

MaryJane Butters, author of Milk Cow Kitchen ~ striving for the stoicism of a cow standing in the rain ~
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CloversMum

3473 Posts


Posted - May 12 2014 :  10:08:07 PM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
Oh yes, we got it seeded and it already looks better! Fortunately, it rained some more after we got the seed broadcast. We divided the pasture in half and that half that we (uhm, rather my dear hubby) reseeded looks greener than the half that my Clover is currently on. We are planning on grazing a couple of beef steer on other pastures in another week and Clover will join them. So this past week, the project has been to section off the pasture as we plan on mob-grazing or intense rotational grazing.

Loving life and family on our Idaho farm, Meadowlark Heritage Farm; 1 Jersey cow; 1 Guernsey cow; 1 Guernsey steer calf; Oberhasli & Guernsey goats, ducks and chickens
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maryjane

6764 Posts


Posted - May 16 2014 :  03:49:01 AM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
Sounds to me like you've got a good plan. This weekend we're going to mow our field that has patches of ventenata. I do think we're getting a head of it. Do you have thistle?

MaryJane Butters, author of Milk Cow Kitchen ~ striving for the stoicism of a cow standing in the rain ~
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CloversMum

3473 Posts


Posted - May 18 2014 :  5:07:20 PM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
I am seeing some thistle to start to come up. I can graze my goats on parts of it and they actually will eat the thistle. What do you do to get rid of the thistle? Same plan as the ventenata mowing plan?

Loving life and family on our Idaho farm, Meadowlark Heritage Farm; 1 Jersey cow; 1 Guernsey cow; 1 Guernsey steer calf; Oberhasli & Guernsey goats, ducks and chickens
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maryjane

6764 Posts


Posted - May 18 2014 :  7:59:11 PM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
I've seen my cows eat thistle also but not enough to make a difference. When I had goats, I watched them eat the thistle but they did save it for last after everything else was off their plate.

Thistle here is chop and cut. Mow and curse. Over the years, I've finally won the battle in some places, not all. Some days I dream of Astro Turf:)

MaryJane Butters, author of Milk Cow Kitchen ~ striving for the stoicism of a cow standing in the rain ~
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CloversMum

3473 Posts


Posted - May 18 2014 :  10:20:01 PM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
My goats will turn the thistles around in their mouth to eat it just so. This past week I was watching my goats chose to eat the thistles...go figure, huh? They were leaving some luscious grasses behind and searching out the thistles. So, did you ever have your goats in with your cows? Did you have cows and goats at the same time?

I believe we have many years ahead of us trying to win the battle over the weeds and thistles! We've just begun...

Loving life and family on our Idaho farm, Meadowlark Heritage Farm; 1 Jersey cow; 1 Guernsey cow; 1 Guernsey steer calf; Oberhasli & Guernsey goats, ducks and chickens
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maryjane

6764 Posts


Posted - May 19 2014 :  04:57:43 AM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
I've had fantasies that maybe Canada thistle holds the key to longevity or the cure for osteoporosis. I've tried cooking it and chopping it in my food processor a couple of times--nothing earth shattering ... yet. Where's a scientist who will help us find a market for this pervasive tenacious problem?!

For those of you who are down on your thistle (and shamrock) luck, here's the low-down. Canada thistle is a creeping perennial that reproduces from vegetative buds in its root system and from seed. It is difficult to control because its extensive root system allows it to recover from control attempts (big grrrrrr factor because when you chop thistle the plant says "fine, I'll become ten more plants"). Combining control methods is the best form of Canada thistle management. Persistence is imperative so the weed is continually stressed, forcing it to exhaust root nutrient stores and eventually die.

MaryJane Butters, author of Milk Cow Kitchen ~ striving for the stoicism of a cow standing in the rain ~
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CloversMum

3473 Posts


Posted - Jun 08 2014 :  10:31:16 PM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
An update: We cut our Clover's pasture in half a while ago and reseeded half of it. It has come up beautifully and tonight we put Clover in that half. First, she didn't want to go over to it as she thought the electric wire was still there...but we convinced her to try and she happily started grazing. Now, we'll keep a close eye on it and transfer her back when necessary. I just was so pleased to see the pasture respond so well.

Loving life and family on our Idaho farm, Meadowlark Heritage Farm; 1 Jersey cow; 1 Guernsey cow; 1 Guernsey steer calf; Oberhasli & Guernsey goats, ducks and chickens
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chives

313 Posts
Victoria
Shelton WA
usa

Posted - Nov 10 2014 :  8:03:04 PM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
I'm a little new at this. What seed exactly do you recommend for pasture?

A cow is the heart of a farm
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CloversMum

3473 Posts


Posted - Nov 17 2014 :  8:17:14 PM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
We just reseeded part of our pasture with a general pasture seed mix...it had several types of grasses in it. Others might have a more scientific approach but we figured anything we did would be an improvement on our old tired pastures. It came up really well and with the cows naturally fertilizing it while the chickens helped spread it around, it all looked good. We hope to seed more of our pastures soon.

Loving life and family on our Idaho farm, Meadowlark Heritage Farm; 1 Jersey cow; 1 Guernsey cow; 1 Guernsey steer calf; Oberhasli & Guernsey goats, ducks and chickens
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Ron

4666 Posts
Ronnie
Peever SD
USA

Posted - Nov 17 2014 :  8:33:44 PM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
Hi Vickie, we get feed and seed from a place in MN. They do organic only and transitional which is organic just not yet certified. I am giving the link to the seed page. I also get my grains for making feeds also. Hope it helps.
http://www.buckwheatgrowers.com/seed.pdf

With a moo moo here and a moo moo there, here a moo, there a moo, everywhere a moo moo.
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maryjane

6764 Posts


Posted - Nov 18 2014 :  04:13:08 AM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
Awesome resource Ron!!!! Just love all they have available.

MaryJane Butters, author of Milk Cow Kitchen ~ striving for the stoicism of a cow standing in the rain ~
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Ron

4666 Posts
Ronnie
Peever SD
USA

Posted - Nov 18 2014 :  06:39:06 AM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
That's the place we get the flax products from too. Modesto milling was way to expensive for us here. If you check out the product list you can buy the transitional products in bulk ton sacks too as well as Redmond products. We usually get a mix and match pallet of grains and DI, a Kelp, and so on.

With a moo moo here and a moo moo there, here a moo, there a moo, everywhere a moo moo.
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CloversMum

3473 Posts


Posted - Nov 18 2014 :  09:05:35 AM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
Thanks, Ron, for the link. That is a great resource!

Loving life and family on our Idaho farm, Meadowlark Heritage Farm; 1 Jersey cow; 1 Guernsey cow; 1 Guernsey steer calf; Oberhasli & Guernsey goats, ducks and chickens
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CloversMum

3473 Posts


Posted - Nov 18 2014 :  09:08:29 AM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
Ron, was kelp listed on the link you gave? What is DI? Can you explain exactly what you feed your cows and how you prepare it?

Loving life and family on our Idaho farm, Meadowlark Heritage Farm; 1 Jersey cow; 1 Guernsey cow; 1 Guernsey steer calf; Oberhasli & Guernsey goats, ducks and chickens
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