Tips for Rotating Pastures

Rotating Pastures

Tips for Rotating Pastures:  Rotational grazing can provide pastures with higher yields and more efficient utilization of your forage resources.  Here are some quick tips to help you get the most out of rotational grazing of pastures:

1. Strive for a minimum of five to eight different paddocks where each paddock can be grazed for a maximum of two to three days and rested for at least 21 days.

2. Move cattle from one paddock to another based on forage growth rather than a rigid time schedule.

3. The best time to graze is immediately following rapid growth of the plant but before flowering or seed head formation.

4. Some target heights to begin grazing are from 6 to 8 inches for cool season grasses and legumes, 12 to 14 inches for warm-season perennial grasses, and at least 18-24 inches for summer-season annuals.

5. Don’t over graze pastures.  The closer a pasture is grazed, the more time it takes the forage to recover. One rule of thumb is to leave 3 inches of stubble for cool-season grasses and legumes and 4 to 8 inches of stubble for warm-season grasses.

6. Pay attention to your cattle’s grazing habits.  Regardless of the quality and yield of a pasture, cattle spend roughly the same amount of time each day grazing.  They should be grazing about eight hours per day with the heaviest grazing period beginning as soon as it gets light in the morning.  Cattle do not graze when it is dark except during the hottest days of the summer.

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