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Geoff Lawton's "Advanced Cell Grazing" video now live!  RSS feed

 
Jennifer Wadsworth
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Login to Geoff's site to see the full video.

Geoff talks about creating laneways around your property to facilitate cell grazing - moving the animals from one cell to the next after only a short stay in any one cell.

Here's the short version:

 
Nick Kitchener
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Interesting comments near the end about transitioning livestock into such a system slowly so that their rumen has time to adjust to the diversity.
 
Cam Monroe
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Awesome!
I am actually in the process of clearing the brush along the perimeter of my property to set up the fencing for cell grazing right now.
Couldn't be better timing!
 
David Livingston
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I wondered what sort of stocking rate he is achieving as opposed to others using a more conventional approach .

David
 
andrew curr
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IM having trouble with th full video!
I would Love to see MY cows!
I seent them to Zatuna Loaded with honey locust!
 
Lisa Paulson
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andrew curr wrote:IM having trouble with th full video!
I would Love to see MY cows!
I seent them to Zatuna Loaded with honey locust!


Andrew, the cows shown arriving in the video clip looked in beautiful shape, but you might want to see the video . I can see the benefits of rotational grazing but in our climate and geography I still see noxious plants like buttercup not being grazed can build up as the competing grass is eaten . Also diversity in the way I have been trying to add with purple clover is singled out and eaten and I cannot get it established as our animals selectively graze it till it dies out . Any permaculture solutions to this that work with the rotational cell grazing system or do you have to begin with pasture where buttercup has been erradicated with poisons?
 
Michael Cox
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Lisa - as far as I understand less palatable plants get trampled even if they don't get consumed, so they shouldn't end up dominating. Likewise your beneficial plants like clover get an occasional hair cut but are not repeatedly mown down to ground level. These systems do need some observation to make work well I think - you need to see how different species are responding and adjust your grazing frequency/duration accordingly.
 
Roberto pokachinni
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One thing that you might be able to do Lisa, is creating a tight space of fencing enclosing the buttercup groves and put some hay or other feed there so that the cows eat the feed but trample the buttercup. When the buttercup is good and mashed down into the ground, throw seeds of preferred plants or at least fast growing competition at first and then preferred plants. Several rotations of this might reduce your buttercup problem and increase diversity. Buttercups must be there because they are trying to do something for the soil, either fix a disturbance or a deficiency. Can some other plant do that? On the clover, if the cows are overgrazing it, it is either because the clover is not established enough for the plant to withstand grazing, or you have your animals in the paddock with the clovers too long so the plants can not take the degree of damage that the cows are producing in that time frame. You might want to get a copy of Allan Savory's holistic management to get more ideas about this. In the video, the super tall grasses are only half grazed before the cows are moved on. You might post somewhere else on these forums about your clover and buttercup issues to get more feedback.
 
Manfred Eidelloth
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@Lisa: If you want to go deeper into it, watch this speech by Jim Gerrish (Videos 1 to 11, you can leave video 1 away).

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gz8AdQmYlv8

Geoff´s video is only a short introduction to the topic and his grazing System seems not very advanced by now. Might well be his grazing pressure is too low to knock out unwanted weeds.
The problem you describe typical for letting the cows too long on the same pasture. They constantly bite their preferred species down to the soil and eradicate them this way over time.
If you use rotational grazing you have a high pressure for a short time. They eat almost everything growing there. And trample to the ground what they do not like. Than the pasture gets a long time of regeneration. Most pasture weeds loose there advantages in such a way of management and get lost within a couple of grazing periods.
 
andrew curr
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The dead one didnt look too well!
I also got sold a dud dairy cow from a big reputation dairy stud! at Bentley studs can be a bit likeused car salesmen
I think the caramel xb cows are mine!
 
Manfred Eidelloth
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@andrew: In the long version of the video you can see the jersey cows being unloaded. They look quite good then.

Guess the one that died later was in full lactation and could not deal with the transition to low energy density feed by adapting her rumen bacteria and reducing her milk production fast enough. In this case a cow loses weight very fast and her liver gets stressed to the maximum. You could say the cow is poisoned by the harmful substances released in her body by melting down her fat reserves too fast.

You never feed a cow. You always feed the bacteria in her rumen. It is like a biogas reactor. You are feeding bacteria and the cow lives of their excrements and of the decomposed stuff. And bacteria are highly specialized in what they can eat. If you change what you put into the cow, most of the bacteria in her rumen die of starvation and other kinds of bacteria, specialized on the new input, have to propagate first, before they are numerous enough to break down the now food fast enough to feed the cow with their egesta. In the meantime the cow must live of its reserves.

Therefore high producing cows get the exactly the same food ration every day. A human might think: How boring, no alternation. But the bacteria inside the cow say: Yummy! Exactly what we love to eat!

If you have to change the ration of a cow, you do it slowly, over some days, to give the bacteria fauna in the rumen time to adapt.

Of course if a cow gets a ration of high diversity every day, there are all kinds of bacteria in her rumen in lager numbers and they can break up almost everything. And if there should be 10 % or so of new stuff they do not like and can not break down, this will not be a big problem for the cow, as 90% of her rumen staff keeps working.

The worst thing you can do is: Take ha high producing cow away from her ration and give her a totally different ration that in addition contains less energy. The bacteria might take several days for adaption and even when they have adapted, the cow gets far less energy than before.

This can kill a cow and in this case it seems to have killed a cow.

I really acknowledge that Geoff does admit this failure, thereby giving everyone new in the cattle business the chance to learn from it.

We all make mistakes. And it is a real advantage when you get the chance to learn from other people´s mistakes before they happen to yourself.
 
andrew curr
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Industrial ag killed that cow!
Even organic industrial ag is dangerous!
 
Michael Cox
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Andrew - what justification do you have for that statement, it is pretty strong. In the video itself Geoff states that it was the change in fodder composition that killed this otherwise healthy animal.

I would lay the blame on poor husbandry due to lack of experience of the people looking after it. I'm sure that when they buy cattle now they make sure the transition is far more gentle from one fodder to the other and avoid the problem all together.
 
Renate Howard
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I love geoff lawton's videos but this one bugged me.

Experienced dairy people would never have let the cow get to the poor condition like that, but I think Geoff is busy on a lot of projects and maybe doesn't have the time to be there observing. My guess is she got ketosis, which is treatable when caught early. By the time she died it looked like she was skin and bones. It seems someone should have noticed her deteriorating condition. Not blaming anyone - lots of people get dairy cattle without knowing the common maladies and how to spot them, but it's a reminder to all that they are highly bred, high performance animals and as such aren't your typical "throw them on good pasture and they'll be fine" kind of cattle.

I noticed some of the Jerseys seemed to have lots of bots and what looked like bot injuries, if I'm not mistaken. Not sure what the current thinking is on that but when Dad had the dairy they never left the bots in the cattle.

Also, I saw one clip where the cows were penned with horses, it looked like. Note to newbies - don't do that unless you're sure the horses won't chase the cattle or they may go through the electric fence! Our mule (gone now) was good 99% of the time but every now and then he'd decide they needed to run.

I wonder if he mowed after they grazed, which I hear a lot of rotational grazing people do, to keep the weeds from getting an advantage.
 
andrew curr
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Renate Haeckler wrote:I love Geoff Lawton's videos but this one bugged me.

Experienced dairy people would never have let the cow get to the poor condition like that, but I think Geoff is busy on a lot of projects and maybe doesn't have the time to be there observing. My guess is she got ketosis, which is treatable when caught early. By the time she died it looked like she was skin and bones. It seems someone should have noticed her deteriorating condition. Not blaming anyone - lots of people get dairy cattle without knowing the common maladies and how to spot them, but it's a reminder to all that they are highly bred, high performance animals and as such aren't your typical "throw them on good pasture and they'll be fine" kind of cattle.

I noticed some of the Jerseys seemed to have lots of bots and what looked like bot injuries, if I'm not mistaken. Not sure what the current thinking is on that but when Dad had the dairy they never left the bots in the cattle.

Also, I saw one clip where the cows were penned with horses, it looked like. Note to newbies - don't do that unless you're sure the horses won't chase the cattle or they may go through the electric fence! Our mule (gone now) was good 99% of the time but every now and then he'd decide they needed to run.

I wonder if he mowed after they grazed, which I hear a lot of rotational grazing people do, to keep the weeds from getting an advantage.
Jerseys dont carry much fat They always look skinny! Difficult to fat score online!
They also tend to run down their own calcium supplies much like little old ladies with osteoporosis ,remember he said the c
ow had been on a ryegrass pasture!
 
Michael Cox
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It is also my impression, from reading about other grazing systems, that we need to change our selection criteria for cattle - we need smaller framed animals that are selected for their ability to thrive in rotational grazing systems. This is likely to be a different beast from your typical commercial dairy or beef cow that is fed supplements to keep it in top form, or to fatten it for market.
 
Renate Howard
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Yeah, I think Dexters would do a lot better for dairy on his farm.

& I thought it was a Holstein that died?
 
andrew curr
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Renate Haeckler wrote:Yeah, I think Dexters would do a lot better for dairy on his farm.

& I thought it was a Holstein that died?
Was it black and white?
 
Renate Howard
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OMGosh! You're right! How did I think that was a Holstein? I could have sworn it was black and white, but just went back and looked again and it was a Jersey-looking cow.

 
Renate Howard
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One more thing I'm noticing, and it's got me curious. The grass in the videos looks kind of pale green to me, and not really very lush. I've read in other places where people tried rotational grazing and did soil analyses that the mineral content of the grass didn't actually increase all that much. In something like 7 years it stayed almost the same. The THEORY is that letting the grass grow taller makes deeper roots that can pull up more minerals, but if you're starting with depleted soil, I wonder how long it takes in real life?

Others have said they give the cattle minerals and the cattle spread them via their manure - but if you think about the quantity that passes through a cow, that could take a long time too. Maybe goats browsing on leaves and spreading manure would remineralize the soil faster, since tree and bush leaves have higher mineral content than grasses? Tho he did show his cattle "trimming" the overhanging branches.

Has Geoff done any soil mineral content analyses, or better yet, fodder analyses? In the US you can send fodder samples off to be analyzed for things like mineral content, I'd guess you can do that there as well. I think it would be fascinating to see how long it takes for mineral content to improve, and by how much it is able to, whether pasture alone can ever meet the mineral needs of a dairy or meat animal without supplementation. We know that the food value/mineral content of hay from hayfields goes down every year because of what is taken from the soil and not replaced, how long for it to recover again?
 
Michael Cox
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Renate Haeckler wrote:One more thing I'm noticing, and it's got me curious. The grass in the videos looks kind of pale green to me, and not really very lush. I've read in other places where people tried rotational grazing and did soil analyses that the mineral content of the grass didn't actually increase all that much. In something like 7 years it stayed almost the same. The THEORY is that letting the grass grow taller makes deeper roots that can pull up more minerals, but if you're starting with depleted soil, I wonder how long it takes in real life?


Pale colour would usually suggest nitrogen deficiency, rather than trace mineral problems. That is not to say that there aren't mineral deficiencies. I'd be thinking about overseeding the pasture with some clover after the cows have grazed.

Also, there is no conceptual problem with importing nutrients to a system to get it established - we have imported and top dressed with rockdust throughout our garden (a waste product from stone cutting yards). If a fodder sample shows a deficieny I think addressing it initially makes perfect sense.

If the mineral simply isn't present the plants won't be able to accumulate it without help.
 
andrew curr
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Manfred Eidelloth wrote:@andrew: In the long version of the video you can see the jersey cows being unloaded. They look quite good then.

Guess the one that died later was in full lactation and could not deal with the transition to low energy density feed by adapting her rumen bacteria and reducing her milk production fast enough. In this case a cow loses weight very fast and her liver gets stressed to the maximum. You could say the cow is poisoned by the harmful substances released in her body by melting down her fat reserves too fast.

You never feed a cow. You always feed the bacteria in her rumen. It is like a biogas reactor. You are feeding bacteria and the cow lives of their excrements and of the decomposed stuff. And bacteria are highly specialized in what they can eat. If you change what you put into the cow, most of the bacteria in her rumen die of starvation and other kinds of bacteria, specialized on the new input, have to propagate first, before they are numerous enough to break down the now food fast enough to feed the cow with their egesta. In the meantime the cow must live of its reserves.

Therefore high producing cows get the exactly the same food ration every day. A human might think: How boring, no alternation. But the bacteria inside the cow say: Yummy! Exactly what we love to eat!

If you have to change the ration of a cow, you do it slowly, over some days, to give the bacteria fauna in the rumen time to adapt.

Of course if a cow gets a ration of high diversity every day, there are all kinds of bacteria in her rumen in lager numbers and they can break up almost everything. And if there should be 10 % or so of new stuff they do not like and can not break down, this will not be a big problem for the cow, as 90% of her rumen staff keeps working.Saw tyhe long version MY cows looked fine !


The worst thing you can do is: Take ha high producing cow away from her ration and give her a totally different ration that in addition contains less energy. The bacteria might take several days for adaption and even when they have adapted, the cow gets far less energy than before.

This can kill a cow and in this case it seems to have killed a cow.

I really acknowledge that Geoff does admit this failure, thereby giving everyone new in the cattle business the chance to learn from it.

We all make mistakes. And it is a real advantage when you get the chance to learn from other people´s mistakes before they happen to yourself.
 
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