Updated: Feb 8, 2020
Our plan for pasture development is rotational grazing and trying not to overgraze the grass. We want the grass to still be tall enough to recover well so they will not eat but about 30% of it when the animals rotate back to the same paddock.
We opted to improve native grasses instead of reseeding every year. Reseeding we knew was not sustainable. By rotational grazing last year we were able to run twice the number of animals that our ag agent said we could run on our pasture and still have half of our grass stockpiled for the winter. Therefore, we did not have to feed hay except for the month of March.
We are certainly not experts with this and are still learning. We have attended classes led by Gabe Brown at Organic Growers School and read Greg Judy’s books
and watched his YouTube Channel https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCi8jM5w49UezskDWBGyKq5g
Still, being able to see how others do it, in person, is invaluable. This past fall we took a trip to Ohio to visit Sows Ear Farm. Greg Judy and Gabe Brown farm on a large scale. Sows Ear Farm owned by Shawn and Beth Doherty farm on a small homestead where they are also moving toward sustainability as we are. Seeing Beth set up a small paddock for her cows was an invaluable experience. They blog at onecowrevolution.blogspot.com The blog is a wealth of information and I have read their book through twice and it is worn out from being used over and over for our questions.
Sows Ear is another homestead that is working toward sustainability and nutrient dense food.
When we raise broilers, they move on the poorest portion of the pasture to deposit nitrogen where we need it most. Chickens are amazing for eating parasites and spreading poop, but they must be moved every day or they can destroy the grass with their scratching. You can actually see green strips where the tractors have moved. Chickens are the work horse and garbage disposals of our farm.
As the years have passed, the pasture looks better and better. It certainly is not where we want to be, but our goal of sustainability cannot be achieved with commercial fertilizers. I keep thinking that if one day the trucks stop running, we could still exist. It would be really difficult, but every day we get closer to having a better pasture, better food, and better animals. Just like life, the pasture is a process.
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