The Grazing Season Begins

These days are just jammed packed.  Tilling and planting the gardens, repairing equipment, building fences, getting stuck in the mud, checking on newborn piglets, and more…  The long cold winter and long cold spring pushed back pasture growth considerably but this week we’ve finally been able to move the herds back onto pasture.  The last two weeks have been warm, so the grass is catching up.

The cattle are crowding around the water tank while I refill it.

The cattle crowd around the water tank while I refill it.

The cattle have been getting eating a mixture of hay and fresh grass this week, but in a day or two they’ll be done with hay.  Ruminants do better with an adjustment period when switching feed, even if the transition is just from dried grass (hay) to fresh grass.  Cattle metabolize what would otherwise be indigestible plant material by bacterial action in their rumens, but the rumen bacteria populations need some time to adapt to the available feed.  Spring grass can be especially problematic as it is high in protein and moisture, leading to spectacular sprays of diarrhea if the cattle are suddenly switched from coarse dry hay.

The only livestock group remaining in a winter paddock is the grower pig herd.  We just started training them to the electric fence, so they should be ready to move out to the back field by this weekend.

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