Mud Seeding

I had plans to frost seed the bale grazing areas in March when the temperatures were ideal (20s at night, low 30s during the day).  But then we had a few feet of snow and all those plans were put on hold.

This weekend I did my best to spin the seeds out counting on a light frost Monday morning.  It was more mud seeding than frost seeding.  Conditions were far from ideal.  I had to gun the four wheeler through the muddy parts, slaloming diagonally across the field, so I’m sure the seed distribution is inconsistent.  The vehicle and I both finished the job “rode hard and put up wet”, since there wasn’t much point in washing either of us since the next jobs of the day were equally filthy.

Bespattered Four Wheeler
Bespattered. Which brings me to a personal quirk:  I’ve never understood what people get out of trail riding ATVs for recreation.  Sure the machine is fast and loud and it can splash around in the mud, but riding as a hobby seems like a tedious approximation of real work without any of the rewards of knowing that you are accomplishing anything.  Yeah, I know… all work and no play.

I’m not investing a lot in reseeding since I know that the grass will come back on its own, both from root regrowth and from all the seeds in the bales, but I would like to add some higher digestability forages to the field while I have the opportunity.  I spun on a mix of several seeds:  dwarf essex rape, ladino clover, leftover pearl millet I stored in the freezer from last year, and some really old ryegrass.  I’m not certain that this seeding will catch, but hey, I’ve made worse decisions and wasted a far more than the $100 I spent on this project.

5 thoughts on “Mud Seeding”

  1. Hi Dave, can you please do a little update on bale grazing this winter season, did you already started feeding hay?
    I found your articles about bale grazing and i am going to do a little experiment too (already started)
    I have 17 head of angus cattle (bull, cows, heifers, calves, various age). I had to start feeding hay early because of very dry weather this year, cattle already ate everything.
    I sacrificed 4 acre paddock which is quite wet and muddy in some areas already, but not as bad as yours. Expecting the frost soon.
    It has a hardpan soil that does not let the rain water get deeper (run-off) and i would like to do something about it. I red another article here : and i thought it might help plus improve my pastures
    I have 200 bales ready on that paddock, but stack in one pile covered with the tarp, not individually like you. I am going to feed two bales every other day using ring feeders. I will roll them on pasture by hand without using a tractor. (600lbs round bales, net wrap). When cows eat all the hay i spread the waste residue evenly with hay fork and move ring feeders into a different place, I can not afford to feed without ring feeder because my big bull will just destroy and trample the hay. He plays with the ring feeders anyway and move them a bit when there is not a lot of hay in them, so there is some waste for sure.
    In the spring (end of April) I plan to mulch the hay residue and mud with the tractor mulcher (to level the mud holes ) and hand seed the mixture of rape, oats, white clover or alfalfa, ryegrass and peas. The field will not be touched by cows for few months, until grazing so who knows when, depends on wheather and how things go.
    Let me know please what do you think about this, especially about mulching the hay residue and seeding.
    Can you please post another update about bale grazing, more comparison before and after pictures.
    I am going to take pictures too and will write or make a video about it in the future.
    Thank You

    1. Tom – I’ll try to get a picture of last winter’s bale grazing field when the snow melts. Yes, we have started feeding hay, but not in the pasture where I intend the cattle to overwinter. I hope to start working on laying out the bales this coming weekend with the goal of moving the cattle into that field by the first week of December.
      Rolling out the bales by hand seems like work! If the ground is hard and the bales haven’t developed too much of a flat side, then it could be successful. Most winters I wouldn’t be able to move the bales by hand (due to snow or mud, or both). But it might work in your situation. I don’t intend to be prescriptive, since I am only familiar with my soils, terrain, climate, and plants.
      I have found that running the tractor over my bale grazing fields isn’t really necessary in the long run if I want to stick with perennial pasture. Sure, there will be heavy hay thatch under each bale, but that breaks up by the second year. Most of the grasses regenerate despite the mud, plus the hay brings in lots of seeds. Rape doesn’t seem to be able to outcompete my perennial grasses, so it only grows in the most-trampled one-foot margin around each bale. Clover does catch on with frost seeding, but I’m not sure if the cost of seed can ever be justified, since the forages volunteer so well on their own. If you wanted to plant oats and peas and could ensure good ground contact, that would probably work if you could get the seeds in before the perennials get a start on growth.
      It might be a few weeks before I can get a new post on this topic due to the schedule, but it is on my to-do list.

    1. Thanks Aud. I’ve done my share of going too fast and being out of control. Getting airborne I try to avoid; not good for the seed spreader on the back of the machine…

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