Summer of the Cow

I haven’t written about cattle for a bit and today seems like a good
day for change. I want to tell you about my summer in the pasture.

Most of the cattle and their calves arrived on June 1st. A few more
came later along with a couple of bulls. These a some very nice
looking Red Angus and they are a pleasure to view. They are also
quite intelligent as they understand how to rotate from paddock to
paddock and the best way to let me know when it is time for a move.
The cattle arrived vaccinated and poured so they ate from a little
rye grass paddock and licked bloat-guard blocks for a few days before
they
were released into the alfalfa/clover/orchard grass paddocks.
The bloat-guard is a hard block made of soap and molasses that the
cattle
eat. The soap reduces surface tension of gas bubbles in the stomach
of a cow so she can burp a little until her stomach becomes
accustomed to our pasture which is high is legumes-such as alfalfa
and clover.

I used my Vetgun to apply insecticide to the cattle. vetgunThe Vetgun is
like a large, industrial paintball gun that shoots large gelatin balls
filled with insecticide. We are also using fly predators again this
year which keep the flies to a minimum. .fly predatorsIt is very nice to look at
cattle and know they aren’t struggling with flies constantly bighting
them.
I took soil samples ussing my Ag Phd app (http://www.agphdsoiltest.com/) earlier this spring and took the lab report to
Mark Hayek at the Natural Resources Conservation Service. In the last
five years, I have fertilized once which was only about 20 pounds of
DAP per acre. Mark looked at my soil test and recommended only 10
pounds of phosphate per acre! I don’t spend a lot of money on
fertilizer as the cattle keep it pretty well-fertilized.

It is just before fall now so I have taken the cattle off the main
pasture and am keeping them on a little strip in the yard. I will
idle the main pasture now and allow it to mature after which it can
begin sending energy reserve down to its roots. This will keep the
pasture strong for next year. After we get frost, the plant is dead
but the re-growth from the time spent idle is highly palatable cattle
food.
During this idle time, the cattle still need to eat. After they have
eaten most of the grass, I will begin feeding them hay. I could feed
them in a bale ring but I have always wanted to unroll big bales for
the cattle to eat. 2016-08-31 16.48.19Unrolling a bale means the hay is spread all over
which makes it easier for every animal to get plenty of food without
competition.2016-08-31 17.06.06 Spreading the hay over a large area also means the
cattle will spread their manure over a large area. Even fertilizing
distribution by a cow is something I really value as it keeps my
inputs low.2016-08-31 17.05.57
I always take pride at how long I can keep cattle on pasture, even
into winter. I am only using perennials this year so I won’t last
until winter. However, I should get through much of October which
make me pretty happy

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