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Posts Tagged ‘Holistic Grazing Management’

Today we hosted the first pasture walk of the summer sponsored by The Granite State Graziers. Steve gave a tour of the farm and explained our system of using our cows, pigs and chickens to nurture and maintain our pastures. If there had been a door prize, it would have gone to George Hamilton of the University of New Hampshire Cooperative Extension, who identified the weed that the cows happened to be chowing down today: White Cockle (Silene latifolia).

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Cows have a natural ability to find the right forage they need to stay healthy. The only problem is that they need certain minerals that just aren’t present in my soil. For example, no species of plant will give them the iodine they need if iodine is not present in the soil. So I have just built a free-choice mineral feeding trough. I filled it with 16 different minerals and let the cows at it. They gobbled up the iodine by the way, and did not touch the sulphur or phosphate (our well water has sulphur in it and our soil is high in phosphate).

Eventually, the minerals they eat will be returned to the soil in their manure, returning balance to the soil and reducing (or eliminating) the need to supplement with the trough.

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I posted earlier about visiting Greg Judy’s farm. Greg’s pastures are so dense, he claims that his cattle will graze even through two feet of snow.

Recently, I was excited to see a bit of snow-grazing on my own place. I have a small amount of stockpiled pasture where the forage was pretty thick before the snow came. When I gave the cows access to this spot with a normal day’s ration of dry hay and high-moisture hay, they bypassed the hay and went straight for the grass through the snow. It was a nice validation that I’m on the right track with Greg’s holistic grazing management concept.

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I just unloaded the last of the hay we’ll need for the winter. This is certified organic hay from Kori Stay of Richville, New York. Not great for our carbon footprint this year, but considering all factors including price and quality, Kori has the best product for us. Eventually, our management system should improve our own pastures enough to let us graze directly through most of the winter, reducing our costs, our use of hay and of fossil fuels.

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Yes, we are farming nerds. Omar and I just attended a grazing class in Missouri taught by master graziers Greg Judy and Ian Mitchell Innes.


For our fellow nerds: the question is how to get the most profit out of an acre of pasture. The Management Intensive Grazing (or “MIG”) school of thought is to graze just when the grass is about to mature. Since grass grows quickly in the spring (more…)

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