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

Kiwi Pete

Member
Livestock Farmer
So true. It's the holistic approach that has the biggest potential, not the "mob grazing".

The best module for me after the Fundamentals was the Holistic Ecological Monitoring.
The "why" generally helps the "how" out a lot.
I'd like to do that module at some stage but I have picked up a bit via osmosis

that's why it's apparent that we need to be changing things up, actually. Having not topped for a few years and changing the grazing patterns, you get to notice quite a shift in the various pastures away from the "good" species to the "fillers and also-rans", hence we're onto non-selective grazing before we destock.
What I'm looking for is more rest, to balance the increase in animal impact via higher intensity grazing.

It's like an artist at work, if she keeps painting with the same brush and same colour then it will be a shitty picture even if it takes 20 hours to do.
It's very easy to overlook "diversity" even if we are looking for it
 

bendigeidfran

Member
Livestock Farmer
Location
Cei newydd
Yes. They're bloody heavy!
The whole job is still a bit of a work in progress really. Dad wasn't keen on leaving bales out in summer so they still need taking out with the tractor. And he is used to feeding bales in ring feeders so it's all not too scary and different for him. He'll come around in time ;)
I tried leaving bales out in summer here for three years, i could'nt keep the wrap from damage, seagulls are a pain here, if you don't move them straight away they will be full of tiny little holes.
Put extra layers of plastic on, no good either, also i think rabbits nibled the bottoms of them.
Used to relief milk on weekends, he tried bale grazing the heifers but he tried for 6 years but gave up in the end.
Im not saying it can't be done! As someone said it aint easy.
For me here id put hay out and try and keep it dry somehow.
 

awkward

Member
Location
kerry ireland
I tried leaving bales out in summer here for three years, i could'nt keep the wrap from damage, seagulls are a pain here, if you don't move them straight away they will be full of tiny little holes.
Put extra layers of plastic on, no good either, also i think rabbits nibled the bottoms of them.
Used to relief milk on weekends, he tried bale grazing the heifers but he tried for 6 years but gave up in the end.
Im not saying it can't be done! As someone said it aint easy.
For me here id put hay out and try and keep it dry somehow.
Try 2 different coloured plastic, on bales here seems to work better
 
Even a simple A-frame type of structure is enough. If your bales are close by it's only a matter of rolling them out, your grazing plan will help you decide in summer where they need to go for winter.

That cuts out a lot of ruts, your frame could just be like a small boat-trailer shape with rods whacked in ala the Greg Judy job, and just skids or wheelbarrow type tyres to tow it back with?

Just putting it out there that bale transport is best not done when it's squishy
I hope to get a local lad to weld up something like that for me. I have access to bikes I can "borrow", my own is in bits. But I actually intend to use it with a winch initially so I can haul the bales up a sharp incline to an awkward to access 19 acre block.

So true. It's the holistic approach that has the biggest potential, not the "mob grazing".

The best module for me after the Fundamentals was the Holistic Ecological Monitoring.
The ecological monitoring module was the one that most surprised me, I really enjoyed it. I have to say I didn't get a lot out of the land planning module 🤷‍♂️

I tried leaving bales out in summer here for three years, i could'nt keep the wrap from damage, seagulls are a pain here, if you don't move them straight away they will be full of tiny little holes.
Put extra layers of plastic on, no good either, also i think rabbits nibled the bottoms of them.
Used to relief milk on weekends, he tried bale grazing the heifers but he tried for 6 years but gave up in the end.
Im not saying it can't be done! As someone said it aint easy.
For me here id put hay out and try and keep it dry somehow.
In low rainfall areas I have heard of them being arranged in long tubes, butted up tight against one another, more net wrap is better than less I'm told. I have the issue of being in a high rainfall area, I haven't found a simple solution yet to keeping bales dry. Tarps are a pain in the arse and pallets to keep bales off the ground hard to come by here.
 

onesiedale

Member
Location
Derbyshire
Hi All, Been watching this thread on and off for a while (was almost up to date before calving in the spring, dropped back in afterwards and was 150 pages behind :banghead:).
I gather a few of the regular contributors to the thread have done some holistic management training, and wanted to ask if they found it worthwhile and would they recommend it to a dairy farmer like myself? I have corresponded with Sheila Cooke and looking to take the online course in 2021.

I am spring calving, following standard platemeter grazing (if thats the best way to describe it). I have spent the last 12-18 months reading more into soil health and reducing synthetic inputs. I have moved to Foliar N and using humates and molasses in the fertiliser program which has helped me cut N from 240 - 160 KgN/ Ha and aiming towards 120 kg next season, also keen to be using microbes/brews through the tow and fert as well. Started sowing more diverse swards but haven't really changed our grazing management, I remember reading a post @Kiwi Pete put up about how he managed a dairy herd that made a lot of sense to me but cant for the life of me find it again.

Also feel at a bit of an impasse, in that ive always had a 5 year plan and knew where i was heading but having achieved the last plan have spent the last couple of years with plenty of ideas but no clarity of direction. Feel i've waffled on a bit but would be grateful to hear from anyone that has done the HM training.
Not done the Holistic training, but somehow wish I had. Gained most of the inspiration to learn from TFF, but more specifically, this thread.
Looks like your 5 year plan needs rejuvenating at the same time as opening up your mind and plan to others close to you. - I'm sure that you will get plenty of help and inspiration from those of us on here.
Good to see another dairy farmer here. For some reason dairy farmers tend to see holistic thinking as a wacky kind of cult. Yet as KP alluded to, dairying is probably the ultimate sector to be in when farming holistically 😎
Oh, and don't worry about the waffle, that's just enthusiasm!
 

Crofter64

Member
Livestock Farmer
Location
Quebec, Canada
Yes I have been looking at making something similar. Just making things work with what I have for now to prove it can be done before spending more money on it.
Could you get a quad unroller rigged up a la Greg Judy?
I have a bale unroller and wanted to use it this autumn but the cattle would not eat what was unrolled.They have in the past. I didn’t insist as I had 2 calves who had bloated and needed them all to have hay in their bellies so I brought out bales every few days and really did a number on my pasture.
 
I have a bale unroller and wanted to use it this autumn but the cattle would not eat what was unrolled.They have in the past. I didn’t insist as I had 2 calves who had bloated and needed them all to have hay in their bellies so I brought out bales every few days and really did a number on my pasture.
Why wouldn't they eat it? I know mine also like to sleep/pee/dung on it, but even on day two they pick through for the clean bits.
 

Walwyn

Member
Location
West Wales
G'day! Thanks for introducing yourself, and I'm pleased you're getting something out of it!

I haven't done any training - just a self-made man who subbed out the job to the lowest bidder 😀
.. but what I will say, is go for it.

Start with trying to identify your "context" and your financial goals. Your goals. Your partner's and shareholder's goals.
They need to be aligned, because there's enough cognitive dissonance when you begin to look at changing "a system that works" to "farming that works within a context"

lots is counterintuitive
lots is changing how you see yourself and your role
lots is already 99% done but needs looked at under different lights

Dairy is particularly "close" already - you have the big herd, you have the subdivided fields, water infrastructure, and regular stock movements. It's just the "we must produce x litres" mindset that can be a ball and chain.
You can do so much with a herd of cows as there's their calf crop, mob impact, herd health and even milking regimes that can be tweaked to change the net profit per acre.
Just bear in mind that high outputs can be pretty extractive "but" financial freedom can give you access and time for inputs that don't scorch the earth.
Done it.

Do it.

Best advice I can offer, there's a reason the Fundamentals module comes first and is mandatory. It is beyond important. Setting your Holistic Context is what every other aspect will rest on. Financial, grazing, ecological monitoring, whatever, they'll ALL refer back to your context, which is individual to your own situation. So, take that bit very seriously.

Add in this bit... I had my own ideas before I did the course, I just wanted to do the grazing module and the financial module. I didn't need those other bits! I didn't understand at first that HM is about making decisions, any decision, every decision, based on................ yeah, your context. It's about getting to where you want to go, socially, financially, environmentally, but to YOUR destination. Not just a way of eating grass or adding up figures, it's totally the reverse of isolating out parts of life/business.
Thanks both, how easily did you both come to your context? Although I have a rough idea of where I want to be, it is so easy to be influenced by what is the perceived norm and the opinions of other.

Not done the Holistic training, but somehow wish I had. Gained most of the inspiration to learn from TFF, but more specifically, this thread.
Looks like your 5 year plan needs rejuvenating at the same time as opening up your mind and plan to others close to you. - I'm sure that you will get plenty of help and inspiration from those of us on here.
Good to see another dairy farmer here. For some reason dairy farmers tend to see holistic thinking as a wacky kind of cult. Yet as KP alluded to, dairying is probably the ultimate sector to be in when farming holistically 😎
Oh, and don't worry about the waffle, that's just enthusiasm!
Thank you and to everyone else for the feedback. Do you market your milk on a conventional contract, I remember from earlier in the thread you do some direct selling?

Welcome to the bright corner of TFF (y)

I echo previous comments regarding the training. Do it. You won't regret it, money well spent.

For what it's worth, I'd say it's worth doing the Holistic Fundamentals face to face if you possibly can, it's that important. Like @JohnGalway I originally thought I'd just need financial planning (which is excellent) and grazing planning but it's the Holistic Fundamentals that actually underpin the necessary mindset change. Without it you'd miss the point.

You'd probably benefit from chewing over your plans with @onesiedale as well once you've got some of the training under your belt. He's a UK dairy farmer with a rare degree of open-mindedness.

Good luck (y)
Thank you, I would prefer face to face teaching but for the foreseeable it looks like online only option. The mindset change is the biggest hurdle in this I feel, but I do think I'm already part way down the metaphorical rabbit hole now.
 

onesiedale

Member
Location
Derbyshire
Thanks both, how easily did you both come to your context? Although I have a rough idea of where I want to be, it is so easy to be influenced by what is the perceived norm and the opinions of other.



Thank you and to everyone else for the feedback. Do you market your milk on a conventional contract, I remember from earlier in the thread you do some direct selling?



Thank you, I would prefer face to face teaching but for the foreseeable it looks like online only option. The mindset change is the biggest hurdle in this I feel, but I do think I'm already part way down the metaphorical rabbit hole now.
Very much a conventional dairy farm on respect of volume milk sales - on contract to Yew Tree Dairies.
However, as you have seen, 4 years ago saw the light and started adding value. Very small volumes through ice cream and an honesty shop on farm, but is really gaining now and giving us more options and exciting ideas going forward 😎
. . . watch this space 😉🍦🍦🥛🥛🧀🧀
 

holwellcourtfarm

Member
Livestock Farmer
Very much a conventional dairy farm on respect of volume milk sales - on contract to Yew Tree Dairies.
However, as you have seen, 4 years ago saw the light and started adding value. Very small volumes through ice cream and an honesty shop on farm, but is really gaining now and giving us more options and exciting ideas going forward 😎
. . . watch this space 😉🍦🍦🥛🥛🧀🧀
Not to mention some excellent butter too :happy:

I feel a road trip coming on as soon as we are allowed.....
 
Thanks both, how easily did you both come to your context? Although I have a rough idea of where I want to be, it is so easy to be influenced by what is the perceived norm and the opinions of other.



Thank you and to everyone else for the feedback. Do you market your milk on a conventional contract, I remember from earlier in the thread you do some direct selling?



Thank you, I would prefer face to face teaching but for the foreseeable it looks like online only option. The mindset change is the biggest hurdle in this I feel, but I do think I'm already part way down the metaphorical rabbit hole now.
Not very easily, I'd describe mine still as a work in progress. I believe that situation came about through "perfect being the enemy of done" :D

I prefer the online learning, the recordings are available to go back over. I did the fundamentals in person, I'm a disorganised note taker so I felt the online classes I did afterwards suited me better.
 

Crofter64

Member
Livestock Farmer
Location
Quebec, Canada
Why wouldn't they eat it? I know mine also like to sleep/pee/dung on it, but even on day two they pick through for the clean bits.
Because of the bloating, and having several more vulnerable calves in the mob I felt it was more important to look after the cattle than the land. Also it was quite wet and when you only give small allocations per day its hard to unroll enough hay, you have to go along the electric fence line basically ssquishing down most of the grass in that break.
 

The new Sustainable Farming Incentive

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The new Sustainable Farming Incentive

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