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question regarding silvopasture grasing rotation time

 
Nathan Funke
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I have recently been reading Mark Sheppard's "restoration agriculture" book and I was wondering if anyone could help me figure out how long it usually takes to rest the land before it goes back under the grazing progression again. The system described had sections of the pasture cordoned off and each day or so you moved different groups of animals through the system, each following each other in succession.

I understand the concept behind the ordering but what I'm wondering is how much time after all the animals have past through do you wait before you let the same bit of land be grazed again?
 
Jose Reymondez
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Location: Galicia, Spain Zone 9
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I also have read the book and have wondered the same thing.

What I think you'll hear is that it depends on your climate and you may get some rough guidelines on how many animals on how much for how long.

Another piece of advice is to observe how long the animals take to eat stuff and how long it takes for stuff to come back or recover.
 
Brian Mallak
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Location: Central NY
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Nathan Funke wrote:I have recently been reading Mark Sheppard's "restoration agriculture" book and I was wondering if anyone could help me figure out how long it usually takes to rest the land before it goes back under the grazing progression again. The system described had sections of the pasture cordoned off and each day or so you moved different groups of animals through the system, each following each other in succession.

I understand the concept behind the ordering but what I'm wondering is how much time after all the animals have past through do you wait before you let the same bit of land be grazed again?


Hi Nathan!
I just got done reading the same book! I plan incorporating some of his ideas.
The base info I have found (Grass Productivity, Andre Voisin, if memory serves, Joel Salatin or Gene Logsdon consider this the 'bible' of pasture management), 42days. This is based on the correct livestock to area, stocking rates. Voisin recommends 'mob grazing' for the livestock eat everything inside the paddock down in one to three days. He says one day is ideal.
But then I read a article in Acres USA of a guy who is pushing for 6 months between rotations.
Another consideration is breaking the parasite cycle. 6 weeks is considered the standard for parasites eggs to no longer be viable.

Perhaps someone can chime in with more or better info.

v/r
 
Adam Klaus
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Location: 6200' westen slope of colorado, zone 6
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There are a few key factors to consider-

First- What type of grazing animal are you using? For example, sheep will graze down a pasture far shorter than cattle. So sheep can follow cattle without any recovery time. But for cattle to follow sheep, I would say 8 weeks is a good minimum. Horses, IME, are erratic in their grazing, leaving many areas long and others clipped very short, so do not work as well as other species for pasture management.

Second- When in the growing season? In May and June, when our pastures are growing at their fastest, I would say two weeks is enough rest on fertile, well irrigated ground. But by September, the resting time needs to be more like 6 weeks, as the pasture growth rate has slowed down. This variable of changing pasture growth rates is key.

Third- How hard are you going to graze a given area? For cattle, a rule of thumb I like, is put the cows in when the grass is knee high. Take them out before you can see their hooves. So they graze it down from 15" to 4", then you let it recover. If they graze it shorter than that, the pasture plants suffer a lot of stress and will regrow much more slowly. On the other end of the spectrum, if the pasture gets overgrown and tough, you will need to keep the animal pressure on for longer in order to get it all grazed down evenly, and the result will be a much more closely grazed pasture. Otherwise you will have large areas of dead tough grass that you animals will not eat, which has the effect of reducing your acreage.

The resource I reccomend most is Management Intensive Grazing by Jim Gerrish. He has taken the work of Voison and Hogsdon, and really advanced the understanding of pasture management. As good a book as they come, IMHO.
Also, Alan Nation publishes the Stockman Grass Farmer magazine, an invaluable resource to those new to grass-based livestock management.

Hope those generalizations help you out a bit, I am out moving electirc fence and rotating cows at full speed this time of year. It is truly a joy to manage pasture in this way. The animals are so vibrantly healthy, and the soil fertility increases in ways you can see. Farming at its best! Feel free to ask any questions you may have.
 
Jeffrey Hodgins
Posts: 166
Location: Yucatan Puebla Ontario BC
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It is advisable to move sheep every 18 days because the worm eggs that come from their dung take 18 or so to hatch and climb up the grass to be eaten and reinfect the animals. The larva die off well before it is time to re-graze the area. Cattle have different parasites with different gestation periods.

As far as timing the move I would say. Move them when the next area starts to form seed heads again. The winter may be a bit different but still go by how the vegetation looks and protect problem areas for longer.
 
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