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Pasture rotation

 
Matt Michaels
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Looking for some ideas to set up a 50 acer place in a pasture rotation to maximize cattle per acer. Supplementing some sort of feed by grinding it with hay is an option. I was planning on running sets of bred heifers calve them then flip them. I don't mind feeding but need to find the valence to maximize profit in central Texas. Any ideas
 
Leora Laforge
Posts: 37
Location: Saskatchewan
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Bred heifers seems an odd choice to me. This would give you all the hassle of calving with inexperienced cattle, potentially losing many calves and some mothers. Lots of potential for loss there. I would imagine you would not keep them for more than a few months, so this would be quite stressful for a new mother, increasing chances the heifers would reject their calves.

I would think feeder calves would be a better option, grow them out to butcher weight on grass and hay, then they can be sold as grass fed/sustainably raised beef, which I understand can get a pretty high price. You would have to put in the work to market them but would avoid the risk of calving heifers.

The commodity beef market is saturated, so for profit you need to do something a little different and sell directly to consumers.

Principles of pasture rotation are; smaller area allowed and moved more often is better. Each bit of land would only be grazed once or twice per year. Your best tool would be portable solar charged electric fence. The fence posts can usually be stuck in the ground with one hand.

For more ideas look at Gabe Brown who raises cattle and crops in one of the Dakotas. And Joel Salatin who raises all of the typical meat animals in a rotational system.
 
Matt Michaels
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Well I have been flipping cattle in this fashion for a while at a place I manage so I am confident in that, but there I had acces to large country. I guess what I was looking for was ideas for a successful set ups to rotate sets on a smaller ground to rotate with supplement commodities with out turning into a feedlot.
 
Leora Laforge
Posts: 37
Location: Saskatchewan
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I think I see what you are looking for now. Are you looking for ideas to adapt an expensive system to a more intensive system?

If that is what you are looking at, maybe try some water capture systems like keyline plowing or swales, another system with potential would be silvopasture, these could increase growing potential per acre.

About flipping heifers, I had no idea that could be a profitable business. In my area farmers very rarely buy heifers, they raise their own, this ensures they are accustomed to whatever system is being used. For genetic diversity bulls or semen are bought. Texas must have pretty different ranching culture than here.
 
Angie O'Connor
Posts: 31
Location: Alberta, Canada
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I agree with Leora on picking something other than heifers.

How fast are you looking at flipping them?

The premise for the best flipping is buy and then sell as soon as you can to limit your inputs and maximize your profit. Putting effort into calving out heifers just doesn't seem that high on the list of choices. Although there is a market right now for bred heifers or replacement heifers here. Still, that gets them off to their new homes before calving.

My best success with rotational grazing involves hotwire (I follow a lot of info I read from Joel Salatin, try and find Salad Bar Beef if you're looking for resources). But lots and lots of cattle aren't trained to a hotwire. Not that it takes them long but putting in time and effort training them to hotwire and the routine of switching pastures daily or every other day just so you can sell them next month? Barring differences in markets in Canada and Texas I would personally go with yearlings onto grass. Pasture them for the summer, utilizing rotational methods, and sell in the fall for finishing. This removes any requirements and inputs you may need to over winter animals. Whatever those may be in your area! I have no clue LOL

There's a variety of ways to set up a rotational grazing system but I find a lot of it has to do with your water source. Do you have one source and have to base your pastures on a hub system? Or are there multiple sources or the ability to get water to multiple sources so you can have paddocks of any size wherever you like. And never over populate the pasture, start slow and learn what it can support.
 
R Scott
Posts: 3305
Location: Kansas Zone 6a
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Yup, water source is the make or break for rotational systems. You need easy reliable clean sources for every possible paddock, without breaking the bank
 
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