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Susan Allen Borrowing Grazing Techniques From Canada
by Susan Allen, click here for bio

Program: Land & Livestock Report
Date: September 16, 2010


I hate to say it but yes winter is looming and with it comes the art of feeding cattle during frigid months. Yes, it really is an art.  I’m Susan Allen for Open Range and when I return a grazing technique used in the Canadian Prairie Provinces that might have merit for some Northwest Cattle Producers. It’s simple, it’s called swath grazing and it is becoming more popular in Canada. It amounts to cutting the last growth of the summer hay crop into a swath and leaving it on the field rather than baling or making silo. Before I get emails about waste hear me out. According to grazing consultant Jim Gerrish whose link I’ve posted at  aginfo.net on the OpenRange site,  waste is only five to ten percent if cattle are moved every two to three days,  about the same that can be expected in a typical winter feeding program that receives snowfall. And it’s easier. According to Gerrish while it takes twice as long to feed two hundred cows than a hundred, if pastures are set up correctly labor is no different for five hundred or one hundred swath grazed cattle. You can save on fertilizer too, thanks to the amazing manure generating capacity of cows and their ability to deposit it directly on the field. Now apparently the best crops for swath grazing are tall fescue and native range, alfalfa not so good as it has a tendency to lose quality during winter. Also swath grazing works best in dry high mountain climates where rainfall won’t cause rot. So if you are looking for cost saving winter feeding techniques research swath grazing.
Jim Gerris is a grazing management consultant and former lead pasture researcher at the Univeristy of Missouri's Forage Systems Research Center.jrgerrish@custertel.net 

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