Dog, cows and pasture

Dandelions, a patou and Roques. A patou des Pyrénées is a Pyrenean Mountain Dog (or Great Pyrenees) and Legend is one of those. He’s about one year old now and big and puffy. He likes to keep watch for intruders.

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The herd is in the Florida paddock. The grass here has had about three months rest over winter and is seeing some good early spring growth. Last year we grazed this paddock in May, this year in late March. The fertility is visibly higher with way more litter on the ground. Ryegrass seems to be doing well along with meadow fescue. 

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Eric’s house is right by the herd. Below Blackie Onassis is trying some of Eric’s nice grass.

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This close-up shows some of the the litter that is partly decomposed – the old dried grass from last year. As the worms eat this we’ll see the benefits later in Spring. There is also some vetch or sainfoin here. You get more legumes when you stop the practice of adding in artificial nitrogen fertilizer. Less nitrogen gives legumes a competitive advantage until there’s a balance met. This balance depends on your grazing management. We’ll see where it gets to but right now we’re seeing way more legumes than in 2011.

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The last photo shows some of Sleepy Hollow. We hammered this area with the herd over winter. It was grazed twice with extra hay to supplement the grass. The herd left this area about six weeks ago and it had grown so well since then that we might graze it next.

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Only some of the paddock is this fertile but all parts have seen a big gain since last year. As soil fertility increases we’ll see benefits everywhere – water retention, early growth, resistance to hoof impact, drought resistance…

One question that I always ponder is what will be the steady-state species mix of the pasture after a few years. Which grass will dominate? Which legume? Right now annual ryegrass seems to be doing well in the fertile areas. It isn’t clear what is doing well with the legumes and we are seeing red clover, some vetches, sainfoin and lotier/birdsfoot in greater quantity than 2011.

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4 responses to “Dog, cows and pasture

  1. I love reading these, Brent. That said, I feel like I am missing critical insight into the strategy which I would love to learn more about.

    Can you please prepare me a six-pager with your mission, tenets, metrics, and key initiatives for the next year??!!! :D Alternatively, I would love to see you write a book about your experience including all kinds of geeky material about how to care for grass, how to graze, and how to organize your paddocks.

  2. That photo of Legend with the dandelions is gorgeous! I really appreciate your posts about grass, grazing, etc. I learn a lot. Beautiful green grass!

  3. We probably do have enough project stuff to construct something like that, Josh. It reminds me to get more hardcore with calculating cow-days for fields and recording rainfall. A 6-pager on the farm. eh.

    Re book, maybe after 20 years when I know something but until then there are many others. What might be useful is a review of the interesting books as applied to a cow farm in France. Right now I’m figuring out this whole plant-bacteria-fungus relationship that makes soil.

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