July 23, 2024

From the Barns: A new tradition

Even though it is becoming the dreaded winter out there, it is good to feel the fresh air and get away from the noise. No, I am not thinking of the traffic or another distraction, but the constant pounding we have taken from the political ads, now the Georgia ads, the Black Friday push, the Cyber Monday and now the Christmas smother. Not to sound too cynical, each one of those over-the-top events has merit and a portion of our population feels a genuine need to labor in their behalf.

As for the cows, they are happily grazing and not the least bit affected by those complaints. I sometimes find so much peace in their routine, eat, drink, poop and lay down, all the time just watching the world go by. They are curious animals, so they don’t miss much around them. They remain especially vigilant when they feel the paddock they are in is grazed and they need new forage. The slightest indication they will be moved to a new location brings them to the gate, ready to be directed. They make life so easy for the grazier. It is another important advantage, not often emphasized, of a well-managed rotational system. Cow behavior is in the complete control of the producer, not dependent on the mood of the cows.

Another often overlooked result of winter grazing is the remaining cow pies left nicely scattered over the entire paddock as if the fertilizer spreader planned that complete coverage. A walkthrough will quickly reveal how much protein is available in the forage. We can see a lot of the flat pies with a nice concentric shape and often a small crater in the center.

According to the Texas A& M Cow Poop Analyzer, those droppings illustrate crude protein from 10% to 17% and digestibility of 61% to 67%. A Brix test would also indicate a much higher score than summer, since photosynthesis has stopped and a higher sugar content remains in the leaves.

Carson has two groups of cows on our winter stockpile, loving it and looking so good already. The last group of his custom grazing went out today, so we will be turning off the remote waterers and draining them for the winter tomorrow.

We are trying to really focus on the end-of-the-year business needs and making plans for an early spring of frost seeding. The winter grazing is very much planned to be very hard on the fescue and create some space for our clover frost seeding. In short, we need more clover than we have had the last two years, so we hope to provide a better environment for that to develop.

Hope you all had a great Thanksgiving weekend with family and friends. We may have started a new tradition at my house. The daughters prepared prime rib rather than turkey. So good, with great gravy, too. And cleanup was so much easier.

There is much that troubles us all right now, but we definitely, with the right attitude, have much for which to be thankful. Stay safe, warm and sane.

Trevor Toland

Trevor Toland

Macomb, Ill.