Our family farming history began with my great-great-... (nine generations ago) grandfather Johannes. He, his wife and three children left Saxony, Germany, on April 20, 1734, aboard the ship St. Andrew, mastered by Capt. John Stedman. They landed at Philadelphia on Sept. 22 and eventually settled our family’s first "New World" farm near Society Run in Frederick Township, Montgomery County, Pa., in 1743. Pig farming was our family’s specialty until the mid 1950s. A lot has changed since then. Our BQA cow–calf operation includes 100% grass-fed registered Red Angus, Hereford and purebred Beefalo; 30 to 35 pastured Duroc and Spot pigs; 100 Freedom Ranger broilers; and 90 Golden Comet and Buff Orpington layers. We organically maintain 80 acres, comprising 15 acres in rotational pastures, 15 acres in tillable cropland, and alfalfa/mixed grass hay on the balance. We have never used chemical pesticides or herbicides on our pastures or hay fields. We are not a "certified" organic farming operation, but we prefer the natural/organic approach to help promote sustainability.
Winter Feeding and Grazing
Oct 19, 2009
Supplemental fall/winter feeding should be managed so as not to degrade the pastures when re-growth is slow or has stopped for the winter.
During the winter; hay, “Mol-Mag” mineral blocks, and other supplements should be fed to help cattle produce enough energy to stay warm AND continue putting on their recommended daily gains. If feeding in a pasture during the winter months the feeding location should be moved often in order to avoid degrading the pasture. If animals are contained and fed at one central location a heavy use area protection (stabilized feeding area) should be installed to control manure and surface water runoff. Supplemental feed programs can be very profitable for dairy producers utilizing pasture a major source of dry matter intake. Consult with an animal nutritionalist to develop a supplemental feed program that fits the needs of your individual herd.
* Listed below are some guidelines for cool season grass and legume pastures resting periods based on weather conditions and growth. Also listed are Turn in heights and removal heights for cool season grass and legume pastures.
Figure 1. Rest Periods for Grass/Clover Pastures
Season Weather Conditions Growth Rate Rest Period (days)
Spring Cool, Moist Fast 10-14
Spring Warm, Dry Medium 14-20
Summer Hot, Moist Slow 30-35
Summer Hot, Dry Very Slow 40-60
Fall Cool Medium 14-20
Figure 2. Suggested Grazing Stubble Heights For Rotational Grazing
Species Turn In Height (Inches) Removal Height (Inches)
Cool Season Grasses
Kentucky Bluegrass 4-6 1-2
Kentucky Bluegrass/White Clover 4-6 1-2
Smooth Bromegrass 6-8 3
Orchardgrass 6-8 3
Orchardgrass/Ladino Clover 6-8 2
Reed Canarygrass 8-10 3
Perennial Ryegrass 6 2
Perennial Ryegrass/Clover 6 2
Small Grains 4-6 3
Tall Fescue 6-8 2-3
Tall Fescue/Ladino Clover 6-8 2-3
Alfalfa 6 1-3
Birdsfoot Trefoil 4-7 2-3
Ladino or White Clover 6-8 2
Red Clover 4-7 2
FALL Parasite control is also extremely important in a grazing livestock operation. Consult with your veterinarian about a parasite control plan that works for your operation. Most parasites can be found at the base of forage plants where the livestock are susceptible to ingesting them. If left untreated internal parasites can cause problems with nutrient digestion and adsorption resulting in decreased livestock growth and productivity. For more information refer to your USDA-ARS “Graziers Notebook”.
If you don’t have one, contact your local NRCS/FSA office and request one. Their FREE!
Again, I would like to stress that every grazing plan is different based off of your location, animal type (Breed), and obviously animal units (number of animals), and it will need to be adjusted not only to growing conditions but also your management style.