winter grazing decisions — calculating cow days

img_0218Trying to get the most out of our standing grass means paying attention every day.  The dry cows are getting about fifty square paces (1,250 square feet) per animal per day, which is less than it sounds, and that amount has to be adjusted as we move across the pasture to areas of greater or less forage quality and quantity.  We want to get the most out of the pasture while making sure the animals are well-nourished, so with every move we note:  how hard the last paddock was grazed, how anxious the cows are to move onto the new paddock, how full their rumens are (is there a hollow under the left hip bone?), as well as the texture of their coats, the layer of fat along their spines, and ephemerals like the spring in their steps and the conviviality of their roiling and moiling.  So far that fifty square paces/cow/day seems about right.  With luck our grass should hold out into March, but a lot depends on the weather —

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