Life on the Farm - Summer 2021
Who needs herbicides?
Scuffling (mechanical weeding) our corn on June 24th.
2 times a day! This is how often we change the pasture area for our milking cows as part of our rotational grazing practices.
Each morning and afternoon we move the fencing so that our milking cows can access a fresh plot of pasture. We establish large paddocks of about 2 acres of pasture, and then subdivide this into smaller plots.
(You can see Martin in the pictures moving the fencing on a recent sunny afternoon. We use lightweight, flexible "ribbon like" electric fencing with moveable fence rods to separate the plots.)
The cows enjoy being on pasture, but the fresh grasses are an added encouragement to leave the barn and walk out to the pasture - currently about a 5-10 minute walk for them. The milking cows get access to the pasture areas first as they have the highest nutritional needs as they are being milked 2-3 times per day.
The dry cows have lower nutritional requirements and also rotate through the pasture plots, but after the milking cows. They get the leftovers - which are still very good. (Dry cows are those cows not being milked as they are in the last 2 months of pregnancy and/or are heifers who have not calved yet.)
In general, because cows are large animals they also trample and 'waste' some of the pasture. By providing them access to smaller plots on a regular basis there is less damage to the grasses and more are eaten. At the same time, because the pasture plots are accessed for short periods of time, the grasses are not over grazed and it is easier for them to recover and rejuvenate.
Depending on the weather - how much rain we receive and the temperature - typically our pasture areas regrow and are ready for another grazing within 4-6 weeks.
Although this system takes some additional planning and more labour, we like it because it is a more efficient use of our pasture areas, supports good milk production and helps us sustain our pasture areas better through the warmer summer months when pasture growth slows.
This day it was time to make hay while the sun shines...
The first picture from the morning is from the back of the tractor as Martin is busy raking the hay in preparation for baling.
And the second photo is the first load going in as the clouds gather in the background.
There were a few drops of rain, but all of the hay made it into the barn in time!
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