We have been working to improve our fields and pastures through intensive grazing. The objectives are to increase the microbial and other life in the soil, deepen the roots of the grasses and legumes, and thereby improve the quality of the forage. This is based on studying the way herds of ruminants graze on grasslands all over the world. The ruminants tug on the grass when they eat. Studies have shown this tugging action encourages a surge of microbial activity in the soil. The ruminants trample and aerate the soil and of course fertilize it as they move through. After they’ve been through the field, the grass and legumes need to rest and re-grow. Allowing the trampled and fertilized fields to rest is key. In nature, the ruminants keep moving and don’t come back to the same field until all that manure and urine is completely broken down and absorbed into the soil.
By practicing this kind of grazing for several years now, we believe we’re at a point where we can make less haylage. Driving heavy equipment on the fields is not good, and cutting the grass doesn’t create the same burst of soil activity that the ruminants cause. For most farmers, cutting that grass to make hay is almost a primal urge. Letting it stand and go to seed only to be trampled by the herd is difficult indeed, but is what we need to do to make our fields as good as nature can make them. Later in the summer we’ll select fields that will be stock-piled, which means we’ll stop grazing them to allow them to grow for at least 60 days before the estimated time of killing frosts. We’ll then graze the cattle in that stock-piled grass during the months of October, November and December rather than feeding cut haylage. Ideally, we’ll only feed haylage January - March, and then they’ll go into a stock-piled field in April when everything starts growing again. It’s a relatively new concept and many farmers still cut all their fields to make as much hay or haylage as possible. It’s scary because it’s a new way of thinking, but the experts assure us it will work and we’ll have even better forage, way less use of fossil fuels, and our animals will be even more in harmony with nature!
100% Grass Fed
Never fed grain!