Wending My Way Through the Weeds

We are about to rotate the cattle into some poor pasture.  I recently wrote about the transformation of a portion of this field with last year’s grazing.  We plan to move the cattle through the untouched portion of that field this year, and then to graze an adjacent scrubby pasture.

This is what we are starting with.  The dominant plant is goldenrod.  A few black eyed susans and ox eye daisies liven things up.  The understory has some grass and legume, but these are unable to compete with the goldenrod.  The field also contains scattered raspberry bushes, white oak and pine saplings, stands of mikweed, and a small patch of cattails in a mud hole.

This is what we are starting with. The dominant plant is goldenrod. A few black eyed susans and ox eye daisies liven things up. The understory has some grass and legume, but these are unable to compete with the goldenrod. The field also contains scattered raspberry bushes, white oak and pine saplings, stands of mikweed, and a small patch of cattails in a mud hole.

When I am bringing cattle into an overgrown field without solid perimeter fencing, I want to make sure that they know where the temporary fences are, particularly because the foliage at the same height or higher than our fence wires.  I prefer that the cattle see a visual change before they run into the fence.  In grazing tall foliage they otherwise sometimes stepping into a fence before they realize it.  This leads to spooked cattle and then to broken fences.

I don’t have a brush mower, but I’ve found that I can cut adequate fence lines by gently back blading with the tractor’s bucket.  A quick trip around the perimeter and along any intermediate fencelines gets me a nice six foot swath for the temporary fences.  I don’t flatten the foliage for the cross-fences because I can’t always plan that far ahead.  I vary the size of each sub-paddock depending on how the cattle are eating it down.  There are fewer problems with the cattle missing the fence when only one fence obscured in the foliage.  The fence-breaking problems become particularly acute when they do their galloping charge into a new field in which they are unable to see any fences.

I can flatten the fencelines quickly with the back edge of the loader bucket.  Better results could be achieved with movers, crimper rollers, or some sort of dragged implement, but this is good enough and it doesn't require extra equipment or setup time.

I can flatten the new fencelines quickly with the back edge of the loader bucket. Better results could be achieved with mowers, crimper rollers, or some sort of dragged implement, but this works well enough and it doesn’t require extra equipment or setup time.

Check back with me in a year or two to see what this field looks like after being treated to a few episodes of high-density, short-duration grazing.  I have high expectations.

One Comment on “Wending My Way Through the Weeds

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