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PACIFIC North West WINTER MOB Grazing

 
Vickie Hinkley
Posts: 52
Location: Toledo, WA
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Chris and All - I've been very inspired by the principals of MOB grazing, in particular Winter MOB grazing. I've been working on it for several years now - on and off. IE - I've become discouraged and fallen off the wagon, so-to-speak. Right now I'm looking at another gorgeous 11 acres of forage, already grazed once, and currently almost as tall and thick as all the neighboring hay that's just been baled. I'm trying to decide if I should stock-pile it now, try to MOB graze it Super FAST and then stockpile, utilizing September/October growth. Actually, I don't have enough animals to graze it fast enough, I suppose I could buy or borrow some... But to the question:

I've gleaned as much how-to knowledge as I can - books, videos, DVDs, classes - but still struggle with the application in the Pacific N.W. I actually went so far as spending the bucks to attend Greg Judy's May 2013 pasture class. That was a HUGE deal for me, never having spent anything like that kind of money {except buying hay, paying for pasture, buying animals, fencing, etc., the hard money we assume we must spend on farming}.

I enjoyed most of the class terrifically. Still, when I asked "What about 'nutrient washing in the NW?" Greg responded, to the affect, "Haven't the deer and elk been surviving for thousands of years?" the answer is of course but those are also browsing animals and free ranging animals. I understand with mob grazing we are trying to mimic natures' great herds...

The alleged issue in the P.N.W. is nutrient washing. I've been to more than one WSU Extension class where they state emphatically that Winter Grazing DOES NOT WORK HERE. I understand they are generally coming from a conventional farming point of view - but is their science valid? That you'd have a better chance on the plains under 6" of snow than in the P.N.W rain. That somehow all the nutrients of the stockpiled forage have been washed away. I know up here they talk specifically about selenium. Assuming for a second that's true for selenium, what about the rest of the nutritional value?

When I brought this up at a WA Small Farm Extension class, they again said, can't do it. And gave the snow vs rain example. I said, but I'm doing it (my first "successful" year). He asked, How do your animals look? THAT simple and obvious question caught me off guard. I had to admit, my beef were OK, my Jerseys or JerseyXs were skinny. He said, of course, they are less efficient at feed conversion....

Anyway, so here I sit with all this great information but stumble in my confidence and implementation. Will WINTER mob grazing work in the P.N.W.?

I'd be very interested in Chris' comments and others trying to Winter mob graze in the P.N.W. specifically, or Winter Mob grazing generally.

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Here area couple pasture slideshows - doesn't everyone have pasture slideshows!?

FEB - status after resting from late 2012 grazing -


MAY - status just before and then after {last photos} first grazing -

 
Hans Quistorff
pollinator
Posts: 566
Location: Longbranch, WA
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I observed the same problem while feeding the neighbors beef while they were gone in December. The grass is there in the winter but it dose not groww fast enough to keep up with the grazing. There was standing grass in one field but the fencing was not finished. When they returned and finished the fence the herd was satisfied for quite a time. They also finished fencing another field where irrigation was installed There was standing grass between the ditching which they ate with relish because the grass has slowed do to heat and drought. [normal here in July] They will be able to start the grass growing early with the irrigation and perhaps have standing grass there this winter.

For the dairy cows I would recommend Red Clover. It grows tall and stands up well in the rain. This worked well for our dairy goats, being browsers they do not like to eat close to the ground but would brows contentedly on the red clover. As a side benefit the seeds pas through and reseed the field. When we had to hay the dairy goats we used red clover hay which resulted in even more area reseeded.

I hope that helps
 
Vickie Hinkley
Posts: 52
Location: Toledo, WA
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Hmmm - thanks for that. I have planted annual Crimson Clover in smaller paddocks but never the big rented pasture... I continue to be confounded by the cattle preferring the grasses to the perennial clovers... But maybe just because of abundance during growing seasons, and I'd just not noticed during the Winter grazing... I did not know that the clover(s) did well during the slow months. Thanks again.
 
Roses are red. Violets are blue. Some poems rhyme. But this is a tiny ad:

The permaculture playing cards make great stocking stuffers:
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