"Improving Our Lot" - Planned Holistic Grazing, for starters..

Kiwi Pete

Member
Livestock Farmer
Thanks Pete, really interesting. I’m thinking along the lines of daily moves and alter the paddock sizing as a bit of an experiment. This should do similar to what you’re talking about and allow me to see how well each section recovers.

I’m in Derbyshire, England no particular drought problems but we have been getting the odd dry spell over spring/ early summer lately. This year it was nice that I’d save quite a few fields which gave me a very welcome buffer. All in all it’s been a great summer over here for growing grass though.

I ended up bailing large round bales, thinking ahead for winter and I was wondering whether I should be putting some bales in these paddocks which have just been grazed now? Are those bales best grazed without a ring feeder? And do they do better rolled out or just let the ewes pick at them/ drag the hayledge about? Only briefly looked into bale grazing over winter at the moment!

Had a helper today with the fencing!
Good stuff - that's why I said "but you need to decide"

we chased the leave more = faster regrowth trick but the quantity/quality balance rapidly goes the way you wouldn't want it to go, as a sheep farmer

combined with the extra selection you allow with lambs at foot, we found that we really needed cattle to cope with the stemmy stuff, however cutting and baling it would soon do that (which is why most people cut and bale, isn't it??)

What I found with the daily moves is it can almost be the worst of both worlds with a sheep mob. You have just enough pressure (on you, and the sheep) that they still have time to poke and selectively graze, and you do a lot of running about while not really making rapid progress

not meaning this to be discouraging, but the lack of "knock your socks off" results mean you need to have trust in the process

likewise when you use fertiliser (or have loads of fertility) it then makes it harder to get longer rests, like what @som farmer was showing in his photos above, that's probably the main way fertiliser stuffs us up really, because it shortcuts you through the recovery/rest phase which is actually the key to all the good stuff happening .

So the best I can do from here is advise to not get caught up in the "look how fast it's growing back" side of the deal too much unless you're absolutely confident that you need faster growing pasture - it will be less nutritious

You will have seen reference on here about "high leaf:stem ratio" because that's what really builds your bank account and soils.
With more leaf/less stem then you CAN lock it up for longer to grow more grub, you CAN have more rest time in a year and you CAN have lower parasite pressure and faster finishing lambs.

The biggest plus to not racing around is that either your temp fences are shorter or not as often, so you can add less total time input to the list of benefits.

I would say most people who can fence their sheep in for a whole day with 2 wires could hold them with a single strand if they shifted them twice and they would do 4 times as much good if they did so, it's just hard to get over that hump

As @Fenwick said it's still quite difficult to judge how full the animals are, wool doesn't help with that much, but you may find that "trample" isn't as important as "grazing" as a tool.
 

som farmer

Member
Livestock Farmer
Location
somerset
with the scary information, re fert price, currently N is £500-550 a ton, if you can get it, just like petrol, panic buying, no doubt as things stabilise, price will fall, but not to pre madness. Unfortunately, protien costs tend to be based on the energy price as well, currently soya is £390/ton. The dearest imputs we have, after the unavoidable, are N and protien, which look to be rather higher than normal. I have no idea how some of the intensive dairy boys, will cope, at the current milk price, perhaps a clue, can be found in that the large local cheese maker, is shutting down 2 of his 10 dairy units, they buy from 150 other farms.
There are pages and pages of info, about legumes, and their abilities, and if we wish to continue, these need a serious look at, we all know white/red clover, and the sward needs to be roughly 50% to be self sufficient in N, and again we all know clover gets bigger as grass declines through the season, we are trying balsana clover, which is meant to come earlier. But there are over clovers/legumes out there, some of which never even heard of, all with glowing reports. Lucerne l have grown, but varieties like, crimson, egyptian etc, has anyone actually have/know anything about their 'practical' use ? Some claim short quick growing, high protien crop, and leave lots of N in the soil. Being a sceptical old sod, much sounds to good to be true, if they are as good as claimed, they certainly are not commonly used, why ?
Lucerne, is a great crop, and was told at college decades ago, it was a mystery why more wasn't grown, that is relatively easy to answer, it's not a flexible crop, on farm, it's cut only, and 4 yrs, we couldn't grow energy, maize, protien, lucerne, and enough grass, we chose maize,
So any info, good or bad, would be appreciated, we all need practical help, not reps bullshite.
 

Fenwick

Member
Location
Bretagne France
the sward needs to be roughly 50% to be self sufficient in N
mostly 30% - 50% here. I've certainely heard 20% is fine. I have some productive fields that are less than 5%. No artificial N for a few decades and no bought in manures either.

Lucerne, is a great crop, and was told at college decades ago, it was a mystery why more wasn't grown, that is relatively easy to answer, it's not a flexible crop, on farm, it's cut only, and 4 yrs,
varieties like, crimson, egyptian etc, has anyone actually have/know anything about their 'practical' use ? Some claim short quick growing, high protien crop, and leave lots of N in the soil. Being a sceptical old sod, much sounds to good to be true, if they are as good as claimed, they certainly are not commonly used, why ?

Plenty of people now grazing lucerne. There are varieties like luzelle which are considered better adapted to it.

Lots of crimson clover grown round here after cereals to feed the soil or to get some quick quality bales.

I've a friend who sows egyptian clover with chicory as a one year ley. Grazes his cows all summer on it with fantastic growth rates through droughts. Then terminates it for a winter cereal. Egyptian clover is bloat free and grows like stink.
 

Samcowman

Member
Mixed Farmer
Location
Wiltshire
with the scary information, re fert price, currently N is £500-550 a ton, if you can get it, just like petrol, panic buying, no doubt as things stabilise, price will fall, but not to pre madness. Unfortunately, protien costs tend to be based on the energy price as well, currently soya is £390/ton. The dearest imputs we have, after the unavoidable, are N and protien, which look to be rather higher than normal. I have no idea how some of the intensive dairy boys, will cope, at the current milk price, perhaps a clue, can be found in that the large local cheese maker, is shutting down 2 of his 10 dairy units, they buy from 150 other farms.
There are pages and pages of info, about legumes, and their abilities, and if we wish to continue, these need a serious look at, we all know white/red clover, and the sward needs to be roughly 50% to be self sufficient in N, and again we all know clover gets bigger as grass declines through the season, we are trying balsana clover, which is meant to come earlier. But there are over clovers/legumes out there, some of which never even heard of, all with glowing reports. Lucerne l have grown, but varieties like, crimson, egyptian etc, has anyone actually have/know anything about their 'practical' use ? Some claim short quick growing, high protien crop, and leave lots of N in the soil. Being a sceptical old sod, much sounds to good to be true, if they are as good as claimed, they certainly are not commonly used, why ?
Lucerne, is a great crop, and was told at college decades ago, it was a mystery why more wasn't grown, that is relatively easy to answer, it's not a flexible crop, on farm, it's cut only, and 4 yrs, we couldn't grow energy, maize, protien, lucerne, and enough grass, we chose maize,
So any info, good or bad, would be appreciated, we all need practical help, not reps bullshite.
I think we are thinking about the same one.
If so we get Calves from there he did say one herd has just gone clear of TB for the first time in years and is going to clear it out and probably going to clear it out and use that one for heifers.
With the Lucerne from what I have seen is year 1 is disappointing whereas with red clover it goes really well quicker.
 

Samcowman

Member
Mixed Farmer
Location
Wiltshire
mostly 30% - 50% here. I've certainely heard 20% is fine. I have some productive fields that are less than 5%. No artificial N for a few decades and no bought in manures either.




Plenty of people now grazing lucerne. There are varieties like luzelle which are considered better adapted to it.

Lots of crimson clover grown round here after cereals to feed the soil or to get some quick quality bales.

I've a friend who sows egyptian clover with chicory as a one year ley. Grazes his cows all summer on it with fantastic growth rates through droughts. Then terminates it for a winter cereal. Egyptian clover is bloat free and grows like stink.

I take it that’s he autumn sows the Egyptian and chicory? Does the Egyptian make it through the winter ok as a seedling?
 

Fenwick

Member
Location
Bretagne France
He sows in spring.

He's in the east of france where the winters are cold and summers are hot.


Screenshot_20210926-082755.png
 

som farmer

Member
Livestock Farmer
Location
somerset
pooling knowledge works !
it has to be in all our interests, to be able to grow high protien feed, and produce enough N to satisfy crop needs, it's nearly the ultimate farm aim.
Of course it might not be overly popular with some reps, perhaps, best to work on the principle, the louder the 'against', the better it probably is.
On the balsana clover, pearce seeds, came in at £6.75kg and NWF £10kg, the former are quite helpful, but not as good as the cotswold seeds catalogue !
 

Jonny B88

Member
Location
ballykelly. NI
with the scary information, re fert price, currently N is £500-550 a ton, if you can get it, just like petrol, panic buying, no doubt as things stabilise, price will fall, but not to pre madness. Unfortunately, protien costs tend to be based on the energy price as well, currently soya is £390/ton. The dearest imputs we have, after the unavoidable, are N and protien, which look to be rather higher than normal. I have no idea how some of the intensive dairy boys, will cope, at the current milk price, perhaps a clue, can be found in that the large local cheese maker, is shutting down 2 of his 10 dairy units, they buy from 150 other farms.
There are pages and pages of info, about legumes, and their abilities, and if we wish to continue, these need a serious look at, we all know white/red clover, and the sward needs to be roughly 50% to be self sufficient in N, and again we all know clover gets bigger as grass declines through the season, we are trying balsana clover, which is meant to come earlier. But there are over clovers/legumes out there, some of which never even heard of, all with glowing reports. Lucerne l have grown, but varieties like, crimson, egyptian etc, has anyone actually have/know anything about their 'practical' use ? Some claim short quick growing, high protien crop, and leave lots of N in the soil. Being a sceptical old sod, much sounds to good to be true, if they are as good as claimed, they certainly are not commonly used, why ?
Lucerne, is a great crop, and was told at college decades ago, it was a mystery why more wasn't grown, that is relatively easy to answer, it's not a flexible crop, on farm, it's cut only, and 4 yrs, we couldn't grow energy, maize, protien, lucerne, and enough grass, we chose maize,
So any info, good or bad, would be appreciated, we all need practical help, not reps bullshite.
The why is probably because its easier to sow fert than seeds your neighbours won’t have heard of!
 

Crofter64

Member
Livestock Farmer
Location
Quebec, Canada
@Bury the Trash - are you online?

Can you talk to me about tall fescue please

I've got my agronomist mate coming this week and I'm leaning strongly towards a fescue mix

what are the cons, because it looks like the logical pasture base from all my research, and alot of the American graziers are basically just dealing with fescues bromes and cocksfoot
I’ve been busy lately so have just resumed reading the thread. I have a lot of Tall Fescue.
F427D07C-76AC-41C3-87D0-0A7BB311E909.jpeg
90391EC8-C10E-447E-A8F6-D3249A93753F.jpeg

It has to be eaten down, in a non selctive grazing, otherwise it is avoided in favour of tastier grasses, especially late summer onwards. It dominates certain solidly fenced pastures which I use for rams , or emergencies, where I can keep animals longer than benefits the sward. I had tried a lot of things to diminish it: mowing after grazing, pounding hard with cattle, broadcast seeding. It helps, but the stuff just keeps on growing. Nobody really wants to eat it once it has formed a seed head.
 

bendigeidfran

Member
Livestock Farmer
Location
Cei newydd
Couple of photos from yesterday’s move. Came into the field today and I was very glad to have set up the next electric fence for the lambs to move onto as they got into the next days paddock (but not moved further than that). There seems to be a bit of cover left over but perhaps that’s a good thing? Wondering whether to split the paddocks slightly smaller and just go ahead with daily moves to keep everyone happy, given the time of year will leaving longer covers pay dividends later on in the year?
20210926_174141.jpg

Here is a good example of grass staying leafy after grazing it down properly.
Green part is was i was aming for and top bit they half grazed it and they broke through to the the next break. This was late may and been grazed twice since.




20210926_174121.jpg

20210926_174301.jpg

Quite a bit of dead/ brown in the top bit, will reset it in late winter.
 

som farmer

Member
Livestock Farmer
Location
somerset
we are on last proper grazing, l winch at some residuals, to much, but if you examine closely, most of it is crap, grass with rust, chicory stalks, half eaten docks, so, in reality, no real waste, it is a cosmetic thing. And hopefully build a better soil.
Rightly or wrongly, we are going to top some of the worst. Perhaps our faith, in what some post on here, is lacking a bit. It is, however a very big move, away from 40/50 years of normal practice here. But we are on the road, don't think we will reverse, and are probably miles ahead of many, who will be forced down this route, by rapidly rising imput costs.
Our organic neighbour, has just cut his r/clover, for the 5th time, am l alone in thinking it's a bit late in the year, and perhaps would have been better left, to get ready for winter.
 

Crofter64

Member
Livestock Farmer
Location
Quebec, Canada
I'm not sure yet. I've seen the hydrants from Kiwitech and they look impressive. Also been told about 'quick coupling valves' (think theyre the same idea) from pipestock.com but they look more dear.
View attachment 987093View attachment 987092
If anyone has any experience with either that would be great.
I couldn’t find any dealers for any of the quick coupling devices so have used ball valves , 100 foot garden hoses and Gardena gardening quick couplers at 10 different locations. I use both rojo on blue barrels and large plastic rubbermaid tanks. It has been a slow process setting it up as I have never done this type of thing before and I don’t think anyone around here has done it either . I pump directly from the well and into a IBC tank on stilts.
D2E2C0A1-8515-43DB-9014-419A0921D855.jpeg
0B88AE8C-704B-4BF9-BC58-BCE9E436FDEE.jpeg
9DE36D43-906F-4D78-B82D-2D8A3EDBF137.jpeg

The part I haven’t quite figured out yet is how to only fill from the top of the IBC. Right now there is just the one pipe, going to the top and bottom of the tank, with a ball valve to shut both off, but I would like to put a float valve at the top and just empty from the bottom. Anti siphon valve might not work as it would be horizontal, not vertical. Now I have to watch the tank so it doesn’t overfill, and , if I shut it off while I’m moving animals and the water gets near the top,remember to reopen the ball valve , so it can water my system, when I turn the pump off.
 
I couldn’t find any dealers for any of the quick coupling devices so have used ball valves , 100 foot garden hoses and Gardena gardening quick couplers at 10 different locations. I use both rojo on blue barrels and large plastic rubbermaid tanks. It has been a slow process setting it up as I have never done this type of thing before and I don’t think anyone around here has done it either . I pump directly from the well and into a IBC tank on stilts. View attachment 987985View attachment 987987View attachment 987988
The part I haven’t quite figured out yet is how to only fill from the top of the IBC. Right now there is just the one pipe, going to the top and bottom of the tank, with a ball valve to shut both off, but I would like to put a float valve at the top and just empty from the bottom. Anti siphon valve might not work as it would be horizontal, not vertical. Now I have to watch the tank so it doesn’t overfill, and , if I shut it off while I’m moving animals and the water gets near the top,remember to reopen the ball valve , so it can water my system, when I turn the pump off.
So hosepipe and compatible fittings work well enough for cattle watering? Using that would certainly be easier for quick release couplings and be more flexible in use.
 

Kiwi Pete

Member
Livestock Farmer
I couldn’t find any dealers for any of the quick coupling devices so have used ball valves , 100 foot garden hoses and Gardena gardening quick couplers at 10 different locations. I use both rojo on blue barrels and large plastic rubbermaid tanks. It has been a slow process setting it up as I have never done this type of thing before and I don’t think anyone around here has done it either . I pump directly from the well and into a IBC tank on stilts. View attachment 987985View attachment 987987View attachment 987988
The part I haven’t quite figured out yet is how to only fill from the top of the IBC. Right now there is just the one pipe, going to the top and bottom of the tank, with a ball valve to shut both off, but I would like to put a float valve at the top and just empty from the bottom. Anti siphon valve might not work as it would be horizontal, not vertical. Now I have to watch the tank so it doesn’t overfill, and , if I shut it off while I’m moving animals and the water gets near the top,remember to reopen the ball valve , so it can water my system, when I turn the pump off.
It may be more satisfactory just to put a hole near the top of the tank and use a regular float valve (toilet cistern style) because an airgap is the most reliable and cheapest backflow prevention. You may be able to use a normal inline single checkvalve in the fill line if you wanted to
 

Kiwi Pete

Member
Livestock Farmer
So hosepipe and compatible fittings work well enough for cattle watering? Using that would certainly be easier for quick release couplings and be more flexible in use.
We had sections of what we'd call '15mm alkathene' which is really about the same dimension as garden hose, sure the cattle would sometimes drink our concrete troughs dry but they still coped near enough.. even when running a drag pipe away to a portable trough

We have quite a bit of head but realistically 600m+ of ¾ and 200m of ½ probably reduced the flow down to about what you'd get out of an IBC.
 

Crofter64

Member
Livestock Farmer
Location
Quebec, Canada
We had sections of what we'd call '15mm alkathene' which is really about the same dimension as garden hose, sure the cattle would sometimes drink our concrete troughs dry but they still coped near enough.. even when running a drag pipe away to a portable trough

We have quite a bit of head but realistically 600m+ of ¾ and 200m of ½ probably reduced the flow down to about what you'd get out of an IBC.
When I use the blue barrels filled by the IBC I have to be very organised- the barrel has to be full when the cattle move to a new paddock, otherwise it just doesn’t fill up quickly enough.A couple will want to drink, will suck water from the bottom, the others will come crowding around and before I know it, the barrel is sideways. But if the barrel is full and everyone comes to drink, the system can handle it. Next year I plan to have a couple more barrels, set up and filled ahead of time to makes moves smoother and easier.
 

Kiwi Pete

Member
Livestock Farmer
When I use the blue barrels filled by the IBC I have to be very organised- the barrel has to be full when the cattle move to a new paddock, otherwise it just doesn’t fill up quickly enough.A couple will want to drink, will suck water from the bottom, the others will come crowding around and before I know it, the barrel is sideways. But if the barrel is full and everyone comes to drink, the system can handle it. Next year I plan to have a couple more barrels, set up and filled ahead of time to makes moves smoother and easier.
If you're able to do that, then you shouldn't have any trouble. We had the equivalent of 200 cattle drinking from our setup (y)
 

Jonny B88

Member
Location
ballykelly. NI
I couldn’t find any dealers for any of the quick coupling devices so have used ball valves , 100 foot garden hoses and Gardena gardening quick couplers at 10 different locations. I use both rojo on blue barrels and large plastic rubbermaid tanks. It has been a slow process setting it up as I have never done this type of thing before and I don’t think anyone around here has done it either . I pump directly from the well and into a IBC tank on stilts. View attachment 987985View attachment 987987View attachment 987988
The part I haven’t quite figured out yet is how to only fill from the top of the IBC. Right now there is just the one pipe, going to the top and bottom of the tank, with a ball valve to shut both off, but I would like to put a float valve at the top and just empty from the bottom. Anti siphon valve might not work as it would be horizontal, not vertical. Now I have to watch the tank so it doesn’t overfill, and , if I shut it off while I’m moving animals and the water gets near the top,remember to reopen the ball valve , so it can water my system, when I turn the pump off.
How does the hose pipe stand up to the use?
 
Good stuff - that's why I said "but you need to decide"

we chased the leave more = faster regrowth trick but the quantity/quality balance rapidly goes the way you wouldn't want it to go, as a sheep farmer

combined with the extra selection you allow with lambs at foot, we found that we really needed cattle to cope with the stemmy stuff, however cutting and baling it would soon do that (which is why most people cut and bale, isn't it??)

What I found with the daily moves is it can almost be the worst of both worlds with a sheep mob. You have just enough pressure (on you, and the sheep) that they still have time to poke and selectively graze, and you do a lot of running about while not really making rapid progress

not meaning this to be discouraging, but the lack of "knock your socks off" results mean you need to have trust in the process

likewise when you use fertiliser (or have loads of fertility) it then makes it harder to get longer rests, like what @som farmer was showing in his photos above, that's probably the main way fertiliser stuffs us up really, because it shortcuts you through the recovery/rest phase which is actually the key to all the good stuff happening .

So the best I can do from here is advise to not get caught up in the "look how fast it's growing back" side of the deal too much unless you're absolutely confident that you need faster growing pasture - it will be less nutritious

You will have seen reference on here about "high leaf:stem ratio" because that's what really builds your bank account and soils.
With more leaf/less stem then you CAN lock it up for longer to grow more grub, you CAN have more rest time in a year and you CAN have lower parasite pressure and faster finishing lambs.

The biggest plus to not racing around is that either your temp fences are shorter or not as often, so you can add less total time input to the list of benefits.

I would say most people who can fence their sheep in for a whole day with 2 wires could hold them with a single strand if they shifted them twice and they would do 4 times as much good if they did so, it's just hard to get over that hump

As @Fenwick said it's still quite difficult to judge how full the animals are, wool doesn't help with that much, but you may find that "trample" isn't as important as "grazing" as a tool.
indeed - the one strand idea is something im coming around to -
3 years in and im growing alot of grass - im just not sure how well the stock are really doing - theyre very much the same as when i began - the grass tpyes seem lusher/thicker leaved but the residuals im leavind are not really being compressed into the soil as much as i would like - so im concerned that im just creating a poor thatch which will in the long term harm the quality..
moving more than once a day i think will be on the cards next year - not all year but very much early spring and autumn post wean - the land size limit is something im always fighting but i know this year where ive used lambs to hit the sward on one field at the right time is/feels right.
also next year should be interesting as ive got to fit a wedding into the grazing plan... (huw you might have to come watch some sheep for a few days :D:D:D)
 

35% of English and Welsh farmers possibly/probably depressed

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Written by Michelle Martin from Agriland

The Royal Agricultural Benevolent Institution (RABI) has today, Thursday, October 14, published the findings of The Big Farming Survey, which shows 35% of English and Welsh farmers are either possibly or probably depressed.

The survey, based on over 15,000 responses, concentrates on the health and well-being of the farming community in England and Wales in the 2020s.

The Royal Agricultural Benevolent Institution (RABI) is a national charity that provides support to the farming community across England and Wales.

Mental health​


Mental well-being, the survey notes, describes our ability to cope with the ‘ups and downs’ of everyday life.

According to the survey, 14% of the farming community is ‘possibly depressed’ while...
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