forage and minerals

Turning the lactating cows into a pasture of about three acres on the west side of the monastery, which is in the process of being reclaimed from eight-foot pokeweed and briars (a pasture informally known as the ‘Calf pasture’, meaning it’s where we feed hay to the young stock when winter weather is really severe), we notice the wide variety of plants — grass, forbs and “weeds” — that make up the knee-high forage which has replaced the poke and canes.  Many, even most, would not be considered forage species, but the lactating cows, moving onto it after two weeks in the timothy and clover predominant in the Spring pasture, are voracious, wading through the tanglefoot  tearing out great mouthfuls of bitter milkweed, young asters and goldenrod,  seedling black locust tops, and bindweed.  And it occurs to us, cooling off for a moment in the shade beside the spring tank, that the cows are balancing their minerals like a chemist, and with greater accuracy and precision than the most practiced pharmacist or naturopath.  And for us, dining on their milk and meat, the benefits must be similar.

2 thoughts on “forage and minerals

  1. do you all do the intensive rotational or just move them from pasture to pasture? we arent having much success w/rotational here in our little plot and are looking for other alternatives.

    1. How do you mean?  We move the lactating cows twice daily (milking time) and the dry cows once a day.  Often we set up a three-day cell, then just move back a line fence until they have the whole thing — three days is very seldom long enough that the cows will go back to some grazed forage and take a second bite out of the regrowth.  Water and minerals and shade have to be in the first section, of course, so the cows do go back over the grazed section for that, but we find it works okay.  At least, our pastures keep improving, so that seems like a measure of success, and the cows keep giving plenty of milk so that’s another.  If you mean do we use the holistic management system and their charts and things, no.  We haven’t taken their course, and are still slogging through the book (which is very good information, but quite dense).What seems to be the problem at your place?  Our five acre home pasture was the first place we tried MIG, and the transformation has been unbelievable.paxS and B  Shawn and Beth Dougherty The Sow’s Ear

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