The picture above has a lot to say.
This particular farm is in the hilly “Driftless” region of Western Wisconsin. On the top of the hill, on the leveler ground, this farmer is rotating, corn, oats, and alfalfa in 60’ contoured strips. This proven crop rotation practice will build soils, produce good yields, limit erosion, limit required inputs, produce grain for sale and forage for winter feeding of livestock.
The steeper land below the perimeter electric fence is in permanent pasture and being rotationally grazed. Each day this farmer moves polywire electric fencing to create a new paddock big enough to feed his animals for 24 hours. He also moves a small water tank and a Shade Haven portable shade structure.
By moving the cattle off the grazed paddock each day and letting it rest for 30+days he gets powerful regrowth, keeps the animals on clean fresh grass, eliminates erosion and—because the animals spent all day on that paddock—leaves behind a well fertilized soil.
It is crucially important that the animals have water and shade in each paddock, each day. An above ground water line along the perimeter fence makes it simple to move a 20 gallon plastic tank everyday and a Shade Haven portable shade can be moved with a 4 wheeler in minutes. With those two animal essentials taken care of, the herd will spent the entire day comfortably grazing, resting, growing and manuring. Animals will congregate wherever they can find shade and because the portable shade is put in a different spot with each successive rotation, over time, you get perfect, even distribution of nutrients.
One of the most common problems of rotational grazers is to require animals to leave a paddock for water or always go to the same tree or trees for shade. Without shade of any kind, confining animals to a small paddock can result in poor performance and even death. But to let animals graze the pasture and then retire to the same trees or fence line to get out the sun will effectively mine-out nutrients and dump them under a tree that does not want them and gradually weaken pastures and dramatically reduce yields.
A farmer who is willing to move the fence, move the water and move the shade-—everyday—-will be rewarded by seeing a dramatic increase in animal growth rates and the fertility, organic matter and water holding capacity of his soils. Having shade available in each paddock is more humane and better for your soil health. His animals will be healthier and he will totally eliminate erosion, never spend another dime on fertilizer or seed, and, believe it or not,
DOUBLE the carrying capacity of his land.
TWICE as many cattle on the same amount of land!
Rotational grazing, done right, is a brilliant farming system.
Rotational grazing done right by you and enough farmers, will change the world.
Author: Vince G. Hundt, Saint Bridgid’s Meadows, WI.