Let me share some of our grazing plan & why we do the things we do. Hopefully this will help you think about your grazing plan & why you do the things you do.



  • 1. Recovery Period: We use an 85 day recovery period. We have arrived at this after many years of experience. We feel this recovery gives us excellent nutrition, a high diversity of species, maximum capture of solar energy (tons of grass grown) & a very adequate drought reserve. Since we are growing the maximum amount of grass we are able to make huge deposits to the biological bank account each year. Remember the mirror image (what you see above the ground in growth is mirrored below the ground in root mass & volume). When you graze the mirror image is maintained. This dying of the roots increases the porosity of the soil & the organic matter2. Start of Growth: We monitor the leaves on the poplar trees to determine the start of growth. When the leaves first appear we say growth has started. We start counting our recovery from this day forward. In the last 10 years the start of growth has varied a full month. There will be some growth before the leaves appear. We don’t think this growth is significant.

    3. End of the First Cycle: Growth started on May 20th this year. Our recovery period of 85 days will be achieved on Aug. 13th. At this date we will begin our second cycle.

    4. The Second Grazing: Most years we will have more grass in each pasture as we begin our 2nd cycle. The question arises: Do we continue to graze to recovery or do we stay longer & utilize more of the grass? Our response is to continue to move to recovery. We will do this until there is a killing frost & growth stops. The result of this decision is that we leave a lot of grass behind. Often we move into a pasture with3 or 4 days grass in it. We continue to move to maintain our recovery & usually only stay 1 or 2 days. The result is a very light graze & lots of trampling.

    5. Reasons for moving to Recovery:

    a. Increased nutrition. The cattle are selective grazing & leaving half or more of the grass. By staying with our 85 day recovery we also keep the plants from lignifying which improves nutrition.

    b. We grow more grass. As plants pass full recovery photosynthesis tends to slow or stop. Grazing the plants restarts photosynthesis.

    c. Increased nutrition when we graze the pasture at a later date. If we slowed down we would eventually be grazing old grass. By grazing we are able to come back to a pasture that is a mix of old & new grass & more nutritious.


These ideas are not meant to be followed. They are meant to stimulate discussion. If you are using a shorter recovery these ideas won’t apply. I invite you to share your ideas & experience.

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