What Are the Cattle Eating in the Pasture Today?
Since Rachel was away, I took over the pasture moves for the cattle. Every day we move them to fresh grass. And of course, when we talk about grass and grass fed, we’re always talking about a broader category of plants than what botanists classify as grasses. We’re really talking about giving cattle a natural pasture diet that includes a large variety of leafy plants. Grasses make up the largest volume, but the closer we look at our fields the more we notice an abundant variety of nutritious forages.
Let’s take a brief look at what they’re eating on the pasture today. Apologies for the wind noise. I even had the fluffy covering on the microphone, but it still picks up noise from the stiff breeze.
Hey this is Dave, your farmer from Wrong Direction Farm. Today I’m out with the cattle. I’m just about to move them to a new pasture. Normally Rachel does the pasture moves for the cattle but she’s away today so I’m taking over for her just for today. So you can see they’re behind me.
It’s interesting this time of year — it’s late October — so the grass is pretty much done growing. It’s still green but it’s not really adding any volume. And if you look at the fields you can kind of see some of the grass that’s left behind. The stuff they haven’t eaten is everything that’s brown, and you see a little closer to me where they’re going to be going next, you see a lot more green stuff. So they’re just looking for all the green bits that they can eat right now and they’ll leave the brown stuff behind. So I’m about to move them and then we’ll take a look at some of the grasses that they’re eating out here on pasture.
You know, grass-fed beef is about more than just grass. It’s about the abundance of all the different kinds of plants we have in our pastures. So we’ll take a closer look at some of these goodies that the cows have to eat. Dandelion, some clovers.
This field tends to have more white clover than red in it because it’s wetter, but we have we have some of both.
There’s a little thistle. They even eat that even though it’s spiky. And some vetch, another legume.
We have some bluegrass. We have some reed canary grass. Some bird’s foot trefoil. That’s another legume; they’re high in protein. They’re good at nitrogen fixing. We’ve got this chicory here too, standing tall above the rest of the plants. But it’s really stemmy so they don’t do much with it. Sometimes they strip some of the leaves off of it but the stem itself and the flowers they leave alone. We’ve got a burdock here. They usually eat these. I’m surprised they didn’t go after that.
And milkweed, late season milkweed. The monarchs are all gone for the season. Cattle will eat milkweed. The animal on the farm that likes it the most though is our turkey flock, really loves to eat milkweed.
It’s always encouraging to see the rich diversity of plants that are available to our cattle.