June 12, 2024

From the Pastures: Other side of fence

I started to graze the cereal rye that is in the field that will be planted into beans this year on April 15. We had a lot of planters planting on April 13 and 14 and I was wondering if I should be planting beans or grazing the cover crop. I chose grazing over planting so we’ll see how this works out.

The winter feeding area where I unrolled the hay to feed the sheep also kept the ground covered to conserve soil moisture from the sun and wind. We got rain and the grass did come through the hay thatch. It was so dry that my ground was cracking open, something I don’t remember happening in past springs. I used my rising plate meter to measure the grass, wheat and cereal rye height and compare it to previous years. It’s about 20% shorter than previous years, I think because of the dry winter and spring weather.

The lawn grass is just now getting tall enough to mow the first time. Last week a grazing guy said you should mow your lawn two to three times before starting to graze a permanent grass pasture. That way your pasture forage will be tall enough, about 8 to 10 inches tall, for the first grazing. This is where annuals fit in because they grow earlier and faster than most permanent pastures and can be grazed shorter because I’ll terminate them to plant the beans. This buys me time because it’s tough to wait for the grass to get tall enough, but it does pay big dividends when it gets dry in the summer or late fall.

I know my sheep don’t like the hay I’d been giving them and really were pushing on my fences to get to the grass “on the other side of the fence.” I started to supplement them with some soyhull pellets and that has helped a little bit. I’ll continue feeding the pellets until the first lamb is born and then quit feeding the pellets. The lush-growing cereal rye will put fat on the ewe and her unborn lambs, but I’ll also have a dry hay bale out in their lot so the ewe can eat some dry roughage if she needs it. She will balance her diet between the washy rye and the dry hay. The hay bale is on a trailer so I can move it from lot to lot.

Enjoy the nice weather, but don’t get too sunburned!

Elton Mau

Elton Mau

Arrowsmith, Ill.