Updated: Jul 8, 2020
101 on Pasture Management (in my eyes... lol)
And why I feel it’s important for Our Cattle
But beyond it wanting to look nice, there are some very defined benefits to trimming back your fields – and a proper time to do it.
Let’s get down to basics – what is a bush hog? It’s a type of rotary mower that, generally, attaches to the back of a tractor using a hitch system.
Essentially there are three solid benefits to mowing/maintaining pastures or fields:
1) Weed management
2) Maintaining forage quality
3) Reduce grazing patterns (for farmers with livestock)
But Did YOU know?!?
Brush hogging also cleans away older forage growth that becomes less palatable to livestock as plant fibers turn to lignin which is less digestible. Then fresh, more palatable grasses and forages can grow for livestock to eat.
Maintaining forage quality
By us mowing these paddocks it will also help promote forages to remain in a vegetative state by not allowing the plant to reach a reproductive state. This allows nutrients to be focused on vegetative growth, increasing forage quality, instead of toward seed production. Care should be taken to maintain a proper cutting height when which will ensure there is adequate leaf area and left so that the plant is able to produce energy for vigorous regrowth. Cutting too close can stress plants, depleting energy reserves, and eventually may lead to plant death. Optimal cutting heights for cool season forages is approximately 2-4 inches and for warm season forages is 6-8 inches.
Reducing grazing patterns
Livestock have a tendency to graze in patterns- hence why we are continuing to move them from paddocks every few days. These patterns lead to formation of uneven patches of forage in pastures.
So this “phenomenon“ thing tends to happen also in horse pastures which I’ve deemed the “lawns and the ruffs.” These “lawns” are areas of desirable forage while the “ruffs” are areas of forage that have not been grazed. “Ruffs” form for many reasons, sometimes it may be because it is located near a manure or urine spot, or other times it may just be because the forage is unpalatable. By clipping taller plants that animals leave behind the grazing pattern is reduced and a more uniform stand of forage is maintained.
Clipping pastures after animals have been there grazing for a while is especially beneficial. It evens out the pasture and promotes regrowth of not only the grass that was heavily grazed, but the grass that wasn’t grazed as much. Mowing the pasture to an even level also reduces uneven grazing patterns in the future.
“It really is a great way to make sure there will be vegetative growth in the future for the cattle. If we don’t get the pastures evened out in the fall, the fields in the spring won’t have the vegetation the cattle need,”
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