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Minimum number of animals to manage/improve 50 acre pasture?

 
Josh Miller
Posts: 5
Location: Greenwood County, SC
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Hi All, first time poster, long time reader.

I have a question that does not seem to have an answer anywhere... while most people are looking for the most animals they can put on a given acreage, I am looking to determine the least...

We are moving to a farm with 50 acres of pasture in middle-South Carolina (which I am told has a year round growing/forage season) that has been grazed somewhere in between continuous and rotationally... our plan is daily pasture moves (MiG) grazing beef cows (and possibly sheep and a dairy cow or two) followed by pastured chickens behind the cows, but we dont have $20k to drop on a bunch of cattle right out of the gate.

Since we are moving in right before the spring boom of grass growth, we are triyng to figure out the minimum number of cows we can use to start improving and managing the pastures. Our plan was to start growing our beef herd next year, so as long as we can sell any livestock we buy in we would be open to the idea.

Someone else's livestock is not really an option for various reasons, and I do realize that you need an idea of pasture yied to estimate, but let's assume it is decent pasture, not super lush, but no real bare spots to speak of.

Any ideas/thoughts/input on best ways to get started, ways to save on capital outlay, etc, are highly appreciated. Thanks!
 
R Scott
Posts: 3305
Location: Kansas Zone 6a
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But what you can and mig manage the area they can handle. That may mean you only recover one acre the first year, fine. Grow as you can.
 
Josh Miller
Posts: 5
Location: Greenwood County, SC
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Thanks R Scott. So, for example, you would say take a 10 acre slice, and just mig rotate them through that for the season, and let the other 40 grow up/naturally regenerate?
 
R Scott
Posts: 3305
Location: Kansas Zone 6a
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Yeah, if that is how much livestock you can afford. Observe and adjust. It is better to do 5 acres right and leave the rest alone than half@$$ too many acres.
 
Kyrt Ryder
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Posts: 694
Location: Graham, Washington [Zone 7b, 47.041 Latitude] 41inches average annual rainfall, cool summer drought
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Find the carrying capacity for your area, divide it by 4 [more if the land seems extremely degraded], get that number of cattle and start rotating them in daily or every-other-day temporary paddocks.

As you get a better feel for your land you can ramp up your total stock.
 
Josh Miller
Posts: 5
Location: Greenwood County, SC
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Thanks for the input!
 
Miranda Converse
Posts: 239
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Have you thought about getting goats? I can't claim to know much about managing 50acres of pasture but from a financial standpoint you can get 10 does for the price of one cow. And people practically give away bucks if they aren't registered. They are more browsers than grazers but they will keep the grass/weeds from overgrowing if that's what's available for them to eat.
You could use them until you are ready for cows and if you don't want to keep them, have the bucks butchered for meat and the does sold as dairy animals. If you breed the does, you'll get milk and can easily sell off the kids. Goat milk products (cheese, soap, etc) are pretty sought after now so there is a market if you decide to keep them.
Having them on a pasture rotation will prevent them from getting worms, which is a big concern with goats but that's because they are usually overcrowded...
 
Josh Miller
Posts: 5
Location: Greenwood County, SC
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Thanks, Miranda. We used to raise goats but they tended to eat a lot more brush and barely touched the grass. I did have the same thought about sheep though...
 
Kyrt Ryder
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Location: Graham, Washington [Zone 7b, 47.041 Latitude] 41inches average annual rainfall, cool summer drought
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Part of this question relates to the number of animals you want to manage and the number of acres you want to work on.

At the scale of 50 acres [or even 20] in the Southeast I would definitely recommend cattle unless you want to be working with a LOT of sheep [which totally works, it's just a different type of work.]

EDIT: as a note, sheep and cattle actually complement eachother well when managed properly. They have different preferred foods and are incompatible with one another's parasites.
 
Josh Miller
Posts: 5
Location: Greenwood County, SC
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Right, Kyrt, number of animals needed to manage the acreage is the key concern, though I will say I am leaning towards running sheep and cattle together.
 
I agree. Here's the link: https://richsoil.com/wood-heat.jsp
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