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.
Fencing, Feeding & Fly's
Jun 07, 2013
Fencing is a way to alter grazing habits and manure distribution. Fences can separate areas that need different grazing management such as:
- riparian areas
- irrigated pastures
- areas subject to seasonal use
Fences can also be used to subdivide large pastures into more manageable sized "paddocks". If multiple livestock species are to be grazed, use the appropriate fencing materials for all species you want to keep in. In some parts of the country you may wish to take into consideration the predators you want to keep out or away from your livestock.
When establishing fencing, make the best use of existing ponds or proposed frost-free watering troughs. Permanent/frost-free water troughs should serve more than one pasture if at all possible. Make sure that each fenced area has enough watering points to accommodate the number of cattle you have in each pasture or paddock. Consider the range site and potential forage production when possible.
Because livestock tend to go from water to grazing to mineral blocks like a "Mol-Mag" free-choice mineral block, it is not necessary to place mineral blocks at watering points. To encourage grazing in areas where livestock need to be drawn, place mineral supplements where it is accessible within those areas.
Purposely locate minerals and other supplements not less than 580 yards (1/3 mile) from water on pastures of 640 acres or more. On smaller pasture/paddocks, place them no less than about 350 yards (2/10 mile) from water. Because bedding areas are already being used, locate supplements away from them.
Move supplements frequently except during birthing seasons. Protein and energy supplements or salt-meal mixes are more likely to be effective in influencing grazing patterns than salt alone. Place pelleted or cubed supplements on the ground or in movable bunks to encourage animals to move from feed grounds to poorly used areas. Grazing behavior and distribution are also affected by the feeding interval for supplements.
Kind of Livestock
Match the kinds of livestock you want to graze, to the vegetation you have growing or are planning to plant. Place cattle in a habitat where grass is readily available. Consider using goats in areas that have a high proportion of woody plants like multi-floral rose. Some classes of livestock may fit your farms terrain better than others. For example, yearling cattle are more agile and tend to travel farther than cows with calves, and, therefore, make better use of rugged terrain. Animals may have difficulty adjusting to new foraging environments even if the new location has abundant forage. Previous grazing experience affects the kinds of
plants, plant parts, and grazing sites the animals select. Although animals can make the transition to new locations, it usually takes about a year to adjust. This transition can be eased if the food and terrain in the new location are similar to what the livestock already are familiar with.
Cattle routinely seek shade around midday on summer days when temperatures exceed 80 degrees F. Sometimes a higher humidity will bring them into your barn or building at lower temperatures especially if there is no breeze and there is high fly pressure. Brahman and similar breeds of cattle are less likely to seek shade during the hot midday and more likely to rest in open areas. Cattle with dark hair coats tend to seek shade earlier and for longer periods. Cattle are more likely to stay around water if shade is available in those areas. In comparison, sheep are less likely to rest and loaf near water. Providing shade has been shown to increase summer-long weight gain in yearling steers. On desert or prairie ranges that have few trees or tall shrubs, artificial shade may help attract animals to under-grazed areas.