Moving cows & holistic grazing

20150912_092709[1]With raising cattle, my Uncle Mark would say, “We are grass farmers.” When it comes to raising cattle, the health of our grass is imperative to the health of our cattle. On our ranch, we practice “holistic grazing” or rotational grazing, which means we mimic the natural herd grazing where cattle graze and keep moving.

We have a paddock system (paddocks are pastures that are fenced) that allows for us to easily move the herd from one to another. Dad has engineered these paddocks to be based around “water centers” – or an automatic waterer – that is centrally located so moving can be simple to another paddock and the cows can use the same waterer (think of them like the middle of a wheel and the spokes are the fences between pastures).

Now, not all paddocks are the same size and we don’t always run the same number of head through a paddock, so there are a lot of variables that come to how long the cattle stay in a paddock. It also depends on the health of the grass and moisture received. The grass benefits from being cut – or taken a bite out of – just like why we cut our hair for it to be healthy. So the goal is for each grass plant to have one bite taken out of it and moved onto the next.

There are many benefits to holistic grazing: more productive rangeland; reduced costs; protection from drought; improved wildlife habitat; biologically active soils; and efficiencies in water usage, labor and animal health;

Chisum and I got to help move the “Elite” herd – some of our registered and donor cows – (each herd has a name so we know who we are talking about). We have enjoyed plentiful rains this spring and summer and the grass still looks very green and healthy (even though we are starting to dry out and have experienced fires nearby).20150912_090245
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