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

som farmer

Member
Livestock Farmer
Location
somerset
some relevant points here for those who are doing something "different" from the expected norm

We have really struggled at times, and been written off by many. But still here, and making profits, all due to the fact that l have always looked out, for opportunities, for better systems, and being bold enough to realise, a need to change. For example, we changed over to block calving spring, realised it wouldn't work, and now back to Autumn, took a lot of buggering around to do, but we did it, without to much spend, and now, apart from odds and sods, we have changed from sprg xbreds, to autumn holstiens, and people laugh at us,

My mantra is, my glass is always half full, and my method is, if you are digging a hole, and it's filling up with water, stop digging, and get out. The other bit you need to be is, a miserable old sod, that refuses to be beaten !

But l always think you have to look ahead, and plan. Cashflow is a prime example, work out what you have, when the money will appear, and cover the minus times, often not easy to do, and sometimes difficult. We have a main group of suppliers, we talk to them, and they will help out. You need to plan ahead with all the different aspects, of the actual farming system, grass management has been rather difficult for the last few years, and we have looked, researched, and listened, and our grass system, is very different to 4 yrs ago, we are not unafraid to try new crops, h/rye, vetches and herbs, new clovers etc. Nor are we unduly worried about fert price, this thread has helped that, as it has opened up 'faddish ideas', which we have looked at, or tried. I am also very much for admitting what fails, and stuff does, it may well point out to something, that will help someone else.

the main point, is probably being a miserable old sod, that never admits to being beat, and never lets that hole fill with water.
 

Kiwi Pete

Member
Livestock Farmer
In our situation, I would assume that Poa sp. (June grass, meadow grasses) are probably towards the earlier end of the scale, with cocksfoot/orchardgrass, tall fescue and toetoe being our climax grasses. Hard to really say for sure as the environment has been modified to suit every other imaginable grass yet reverts to cocksfoot, browntop, fescue once you stop getting in the way of them
20220110_201354.jpg

this is somewhere in the middle of the range, the missing ingredient has been sufficient stock pressure to force much of a change in what grows. However what is really striking me looking at recovering paddocks, is just how strong the better grasses are coming back after "proper grazing"

I use "proper" because it's never right, just it's considerably less wrong than where we were 😎🙂👍
 

Kiwi Pete

Member
Livestock Farmer
some relevant points here for those who are doing something "different" from the expected norm

What other people think isn't really any of our business - it gets harder to get "advice" when you are going away in your own direction but that can be a bit of a blessing as well
 

som farmer

Member
Livestock Farmer
Location
somerset
look at quite a few American ranchers on u'tube, a lot of ground is knacked, but the common thread to reverse that, is rotational/mob grazing, and rest periods, that lets the natural wild prairie recover, and then you gets footage of grass blowing in the wind, suggesting a fantastic about turn. Which it probably is, and certainly a very cheap way to improve grazing, no reseeding costs !

That policy isn't really a solution here, we don't have the massive acres to achieve those results. There is a common thread though, rest periods. Not at all sure what are milkers would produce, eating headed grasses, blowing in the wind, and am not brave enough to try that, some breeds, or crosses would be fine, our hols ........... no. Although if made into hay, they quite happily chomp on through it, often wonder what makes that difference, and am beginning to think hay is a very underestimated fodder source, it's definitely greener than wrapping plastic round it.

I also wonder, how cattle would perform on whatever natural grasses would appear here, if we just 'left' the sward to revert back, again not really brave enough to try that. So halfway house on that, drill grasses other than ryegrass, into reseeds as well. Also think you need a sward that suits your 'enterprise', and think you need a wide list of plants - a diverse mix. If you look at all the 'advice' that is now being advocated, it basically follows the 'rest' theory, a quick in, and out, basis, even the multi cut silage system follows that basis.

So @Farmer Roy, perhaps the movement towards a 'regen/holistic' approach to farming, here in the UK, while being classed as a fad, or 'green rubbish', is moving through the farming systems, but through the back door, instead of the front !
 

Kiwi Pete

Member
Livestock Farmer
look at quite a few American ranchers on u'tube, a lot of ground is knacked, but the common thread to reverse that, is rotational/mob grazing, and rest periods, that lets the natural wild prairie recover, and then you gets footage of grass blowing in the wind, suggesting a fantastic about turn. Which it probably is, and certainly a very cheap way to improve grazing, no reseeding costs !

That policy isn't really a solution here, we don't have the massive acres to achieve those results. There is a common thread though, rest periods. Not at all sure what are milkers would produce, eating headed grasses, blowing in the wind, and am not brave enough to try that, some breeds, or crosses would be fine, our hols ........... no. Although if made into hay, they quite happily chomp on through it, often wonder what makes that difference, and am beginning to think hay is a very underestimated fodder source, it's definitely greener than wrapping plastic round it.

I also wonder, how cattle would perform on whatever natural grasses would appear here, if we just 'left' the sward to revert back, again not really brave enough to try that. So halfway house on that, drill grasses other than ryegrass, into reseeds as well. Also think you need a sward that suits your 'enterprise', and think you need a wide list of plants - a diverse mix. If you look at all the 'advice' that is now being advocated, it basically follows the 'rest' theory, a quick in, and out, basis, even the multi cut silage system follows that basis.

So @Farmer Roy, perhaps the movement towards a 'regen/holistic' approach to farming, here in the UK, while being classed as a fad, or 'green rubbish', is moving through the farming systems, but through the back door, instead of the front !
Some of it probably still is "fad"

I think a lot of farmers are so deeply addicted to spending money and doing stuff "in life" that they simply cannot get past doing that in their farm business

my accountant is quick to confirm that I am "the weirdest wealthy person he's ever had the privilege of sharing dinner with" because of my distinct lack of fear, most people are a tightly-woven ball of fear and he says "it usually gets worse the more we have"
I am apparently weird because I can describe where and what my real fear is - our children ending up like most of the other products of education and indoctrination, living someone elses' picture of what is 'good' and 'right'

Cows love it when you stop killing them with every feed, the perception of what makes a good pasture [for many farmers] is a far cry from what the cows actually need and want - it's someone elses' picture, not a cow's idea at all.
That they can live on it, is really a testament to how adaptable they can be.... even if they don't live long without "health problems", they survive and produce off it.
Some can even reproduce off it, without human intervention

It's actually quite scary to watch how sucked in most people (by this, I include myself, for I am a person) get sucked in by all the falsehoods and fallacies that we call life, it took me years to undo what school did to my soul
 

Crofter64

Member
Livestock Farmer
Location
Quebec, Canada
Some of it probably still is "fad"

I think a lot of farmers are so deeply addicted to spending money and doing stuff "in life" that they simply cannot get past doing that in their farm business

my accountant is quick to confirm that I am "the weirdest wealthy person he's ever had the privilege of sharing dinner with" because of my distinct lack of fear, most people are a tightly-woven ball of fear and he says "it usually gets worse the more we have"
I am apparently weird because I can describe where and what my real fear is - our children ending up like most of the other products of education and indoctrination, living someone elses' picture of what is 'good' and 'right'

Cows love it when you stop killing them with every feed, the perception of what makes a good pasture [for many farmers] is a far cry from what the cows actually need and want - it's someone elses' picture, not a cow's idea at all.
That they can live on it, is really a testament to how adaptable they can be.... even if they don't live long without "health problems", they survive and produce off it.
Some can even reproduce off it, without human intervention

It's actually quite scary to watch how sucked in most people (by this, I include myself, for I am a person) get sucked in by all the falsehoods and fallacies that we call life, it took me years to undo what school did to my soul
I am terrified by the indoctrination in schools as well. 25 years ago I was already wary but things have gotten worse. I hope parents have discovered more about what and how their children are learning during all the lockdowns and retake control of their childrens’ educations.. Of course, its not as easy as it looks- I’m thinking of the fight the parents in the state of Virginia had to put up when they disagreed with parts of the curriculum. And the government labels them DOMESTIC TERRORISTS. I totally understand your fear.
 

Kiwi Pete

Member
Livestock Farmer
20220110_200556.jpg

..that liked a wee drink.

You will see a haze of ryegrass seedheads, it might be slightly roundup-resistant due to the "chemical topping" rates used... can't beat paying a problem forward 😉

however there should be something fresh in the base for the next few decades, I will leave this to grow on a bit as I need to knock in a few wooden posts and run out wires and water, might give it a graze in the autumn when we get our next installment of "littles"
 

Kiwi Pete

Member
Livestock Farmer
I am terrified by the indoctrination in schools as well. 25 years ago I was already wary but things have gotten worse. I hope parents have discovered more about what and how their children are learning during all the lockdowns and retake control of their childrens’ educations.. Of course, its not as easy as it looks- I’m thinking of the fight the parents in the state of Virginia had to put up when they disagreed with parts of the curriculum. And the government labels them DOMESTIC TERRORISTS. I totally understand your fear.
When you see the control of the land, seed, and water all disappear into the hands of few, it buggers me up to see people wise to those "new facts" blindly giving them their health and ownership of identity for some "promised land"

Ahh well... 🤷‍♂️
 

Henarar

Member
Livestock Farmer
Location
Somerset
Cows love it when you stop killing them with every feed, the perception of what makes a good pasture [for many farmers] is a far cry from what the cows actually need and want - it's someone elses' picture, not a cow's idea at all.
If you were buying silage or hay and wanted to know how good it was would you take some and have it analyzed or take some a chuck it in front the cows ?
You know what I would do without me telling you.
 

Tyedyetom

Member

som farmer

Member
Livestock Farmer
Location
somerset
If you were buying silage or hay and wanted to know how good it was would you take some and have it analyzed or take some a chuck it in front the cows ?
You know what I would do without me telling you.
easy, look, smell, act noncommitted, and say it's to dear !
we do analysis hay sometimes, especially if it looks, and smells good, and it is usually some serious stuff, but as with all fodder, stock soon tells you. Look at the yanks, feeding finely chopped, or milled hay, to their stock, and yet no interest over here.
Been out round today, out farm is saturated, to a degree where it was difficult to drive around, and l know after a few dry hours, it will look very different ! The cows on the kale looked very unhappy, bit open up there.
Took some pics driving around, the first ones, are off a strip of land, where a shelter break, didn't take, at least 8 yrs ago, so that would be rewilding, and yet to hear some idiots talk, 2 years, and fully rewilded !
Next, clover, and plantain, looks to me as if it's started to grow, rather early. And are on the next post, no idea what happened !!
Next, l posted a pic of a mess, chicory, plantain grass and docks, some time ago, looks a bit tidier now, sheep will be on it, shortly. And the last one, first lot of calves weaned of, thought they looked good, nothing like a bit of self praise
IMG_0451[1].JPG
IMG_0449[1].JPG
IMG_0455[1].JPG
IMG_0457[1].JPG
!!!
 
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Henarar

Member
Livestock Farmer
Location
Somerset
easy, look, smell, act noncommitted, and say it's to dear !
we do analysis hay sometimes, especially if it looks, and smells good, and it is usually some serious stuff, but as with all fodder, stock soon tells you. Look at the yanks, feeding finely chopped, or milled hay, to their stock, and yet no interest over here.
Mole valley rep came in a few years ago on about analising silage, told him I wasn't going to buy anything from him whatever it was like but he wanted to do it so told him to take some out of the feed trailer.
He came in with the results and said that the cows shouldn't really like it but he said I can't really say that as when I took the sample the cows were tucking in to it well enough and all fat as butter.
same sort of thing I had some land tested years ago, came back short of this that and the other so I put on what they said and didn't notice any difference so haven't bothered since, still seems to grow and the cows eat it
 

som farmer

Member
Livestock Farmer
Location
somerset
Mole valley rep came in a few years ago on about analising silage, told him I wasn't going to buy anything from him whatever it was like but he wanted to do it so told him to take some out of the feed trailer.
He came in with the results and said that the cows shouldn't really like it but he said I can't really say that as when I took the sample the cows were tucking in to it well enough and all fat as butter.
same sort of thing I had some land tested years ago, came back short of this that and the other so I put on what they said and didn't notice any difference so haven't bothered since, still seems to grow and the cows eat it
analysing is a useful tool, and especially for dairy cows, good to excellent silage, saves a serious amount of money. But it only analysis's a tiny fraction of hay, silage or soil, so is only an indication of what you have, your nose, and cattle tongues, will tell you as much. We analysis our silage face, every 3/4 weeks, as we go back through the pit, simply tells us of a possible change. Mind you, all the tests on the pit, are coming back av 16% protein, great, and the cows agree, their shite, is telling us to reduce protein, a saving.
Soil, on the other hand, does give you ph status, and the P's and K's, which going forward, will increase in importance, for carbon, phosphates etc, being in an NVZ, it is a legal requirement to test each field a minimum, of once, every 4 years. The remarks above, are the same for soil, it gives you an indication, of that one tiny spot, the amount of soil, used to actually test, is a tiny fraction, of the bucket of soil we take, in our W walk across the field. There is, however a huge difference between the 2, the soil test, ticks lots of boxes, and things like N P K, are going to affect us all, increasingly, as we move towards someone's corrupted view, of 'climate change'.

and just had a call to say our fert is coming tomorrow, rather hoped it would be delayed, or not available, 27%N- 12% sulphur, it's the sulphur that concerned us the most, it makes a massive difference here, you can clearly see, to the line, what has, or hasn't had it ! And ordered on the basis that, if not, high likelihood of not getting any, there will not be enough made. Just got to pay for it now £21,000, 1 full artic. ouch.
 
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Rob Garrett

Member
Mixed Farmer
Location
Derbyshire UK
lost my place - messy herbs, docks and grass, then the calves, or the other way around ! Not quite sure what happened. On the 'messy' pic, if you look at the horizon, between the hills in the centre, that looks out across the som levels, and therefore nothing between us, and the atlantic, gets a bit windy up there.View attachment 1009258View attachment 1009260View attachment 1009261View attachment 1009262
Calves are looking good, are you feeding milk or powder? (How much for how long etc?). Are they all out of your Hols?
 

som farmer

Member
Livestock Farmer
Location
somerset
Calves are looking good, are you feeding milk or powder? (How much for how long etc?). Are they all out of your Hols?
thankyou, l did think l should have added, the fact that if l was selling to Tesco's, we would not pass their 'standard', calves have to be reared with a minimum of 2 per pen !!
All out of our cows, as we bought cows in, many were i/c, that's why there's a 'selection' of breeds.
We feed acidified colostrum, which we can store, so weaning dates are more to do with how much colostrum we have, first ones 10/12 weeks, last one's 8/10 weeks. We get on well with acid/colostrum, but it's not for everyone. Don't have a clue for price of milk powder, we were given a lot last spring, which we mixed in with stored, other than that freebie, haven't bought any for years, so a massive saving, and better calves, they stay longer on milk.
Used to rear several 100 a year, all bought in, and worked out the 'best' system then, 46 caves in that shed, all single pens, 10 mins to milk them, if in a hurry, but our lady takes her time, straw, fresh water etc, every day. The results speak for them selves.
 

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