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Crop Rotation

 
Chris Dickson
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I've been contemplating a pasture rotation system that incorporates grains. I have pasture in a mix of white/red clover, alfalfa, orchard grass and perennial rye grass. This is unused for anything but deer forage right now. My plan would be to use temp electric fence to rotationally graze on a 45 day cycle, first graze would be cattle, followed by chickens, I would then like to plant wheat using the Bonfils method. My question is, will the cattle eat the wheat stalks if I leave them long in the ground? I would like to save labor and resources by just taking the grain heads and leaving the stalks standing.
 
Chris Stelzer
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Chris Dickson wrote:I've been contemplating a pasture rotation system that incorporates grains. I have pasture in a mix of white/red clover, alfalfa, orchard grass and perennial rye grass. This is unused for anything but deer forage right now. My plan would be to use temp electric fence to rotationally graze on a 45 day cycle, first graze would be cattle, followed by chickens, I would then like to plant wheat using the Bonfils method. My question is, will the cattle eat the wheat stalks if I leave them long in the ground? I would like to save labor and resources by just taking the grain heads and leaving the stalks standing.


Chris they might eat the stalks of wheat, depending on how long they are in there.

Where did you come up with the 45 day rotation? Be very careful with implementing a system when you are doing grazing management. Yes, there might be times of the year where 45 days is a perfect rotation time. But what if it doesn't rain for 8 months? You'll likely run out of feed quickly, rotating that fast.

You should google "Pasture Cropping" or listen to the interview I did with Colin Seis. You can find that here: Colin Seis Interview While you may not agree with everything Colin says, it will give you a better understanding of the timing of how he plants a wheat crop into his pastures.

Even if the cattle do not eat the stalks, the land will still benefit greatly from having the cattle in the pasture where the wheat was grown. The cattle will trample the stalks to the ground, providing cover for the soil and food for all the soil critters. It sounds like you have a diverse pasture, so there will be other feed sources for the cattle around the wheat stalks. I think it's a great idea. Start slowly and don't spend a lot of money!!!

 
Chris Dickson
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Sorry, read my OP and it wasn't very clear. I was planning on planting a subset of the pasture in wheat and taking it out of the rotation. When I said 45 day rotation, I meant I've identified enough paddocks that I create with temp electric fence that I come around to each about every 45 days or so. I set this up after reading some about Allan Savory's work with restoring pasture lands with cattle impact. My paddock mix should provide nitrogen fixing (clover and alfalfa) along with the fodder. After listening to your recommended podcast, I may have to rethink my methods.

Thanks a bunch!
 
Chris Stelzer
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Chris Dickson wrote:Sorry, read my OP and it wasn't very clear. I was planning on planting a subset of the pasture in wheat and taking it out of the rotation. When I said 45 day rotation, I meant I've identified enough paddocks that I create with temp electric fence that I come around to each about every 45 days or so. I set this up after reading some about Allan Savory's work with restoring pasture lands with cattle impact. My paddock mix should provide nitrogen fixing (clover and alfalfa) along with the fodder. After listening to your recommended podcast, I may have to rethink my methods.

Thanks a bunch!


Chris you are on the right path. Try something and see what happens. I'm only warning you not to get caught up in a "system." Think about how buffalo or any herding animal acts in nature. Do they mob grazing a paddock every 45 days? No. Sometimes they graze the heck out of it eating everything. Other times, that paddock or area, might sit for a year. Other times, it's very lightly grazed. I just did an interview with Australian Dick Richardson, and he uses "random events" on his ranch. Look for that interview next week. It will give you a lot to think about. Also, abusing high density grazing by doing it all the time will also lead to simplification of plant species and compaction of the soil. Yes there are many times it's great to use high density grazing, not all the time.
 
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