Grazing livestock in the winter is challenging. It takes a lot of time, thinking and good management to graze in the winter time. First, you need to have a stockpile of grass. Not grass in the form of hay, but grass that is still standing in your pastures. The grass needs to be high quality forage, and if you are using Mob/MIG/Rotational grazing chances are that it is.
Building a stockpile of grass for the non-growing season is easy with some planning. It can also be done on any scale. If you have 2 head of cattle or 2,000. Preparation is key.
Basically all you need to do is move your livestock through all of your pastures during the year. The tricky parts comes up when you are thinking about how much grass you should stockpile for the wintertime. Maybe you have your livestock graze most of your grass down from 18” to 3”. In this situation, you better hope that you have enough time and moisture to grow some more grass before the growing season is over. If your concerned, maybe you only graze half of the grass plant, leaving the other half for the dormant season. It’s up to you and the uniqueness of your farm/ranch. Even if we live 10 miles apart, our land is completely different, but taking half and leaving half should be fine.
In the picture below, I want to show you the differences between a paddock that was grazed, and one that we just opened up to grazing. Keep in mind this is winter stockpile grass, and I took this picture with my phone.
Look at the difference of the grazed section, which is closest to us, and the winter stockpile which is behind the white post. You will see a few calves up in the good winter stockpile ‘creep grazing’.
The point of this post is this: Can you imagine how much hay you would have to buy/transport/store/feed to get that amount of high quality feed for your livestock? In this picture alone we’d be talking about 20 LARGE round bales of hay and thousands of dollars to get the equivelent amount of forage. Greg enlightened me to this fact, and it rocked my world! I never thought about it that way.
If your a homesteader with a few steers or dairy cows, or a large rancher, please consider winter stockpile for your livestock to graze next winter. When you don’t buy hay, your wallet will be fatter, and your livestock will be healthy and happy.
We had some good conversations last week. I want to see that continue! What do you guys think about winter stockpile for grazing? What are you experiences with it? If you don’t have any experience with it, are you as excited as I am about it!?
Please let me know in the comments section below.