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Brendan Getchel

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since Mar 26, 2012
North Alabama
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Recent posts by Brendan Getchel

I would be interested, but I'm the pastor so Sundays are, unfortunately, out of the question for me.
6 years ago

J D Horn wrote:Brendan,

Understanding that you will need to transition to non-chemical treatment, maybe natural methods can provide a bridge.



Thanks JD! I'll check them all out. I could be wrong, but I don't really see an "overnight" transition into the "Judy Method" without somewhat of a staggered plan of attack. Also, even though the terminus is the same, we're hobby farmers who have a variety of livestock and our cows are also our pets. We don't look at this in terms of dollars and sense (pun)

If we can, over a reasonable time, get to "none of the above" on the conventional farming wisdom checklist, that's great. If we adopt some things and not others, and it works for us, that's great too.

If I had a commercial operation and profit was my motive then it would be different. As I see it, if you're putting in your hours controlling the cows or doing "other" things, it's all the same hours. The end result is what matters, IMHO.
8 years ago

Chris Stelzer wrote:

I would say density is a big part of mob grazing, but the most important factor is recovery period. How long you let the grass recover. You can overgraze any grass plant and it will be healthy. It just comes down to how long that plant has to recover. If you allow your cattle to graze a grass plant into the dirt, then your gonna need a hell of a recovery period. However, if you let the cattle just take the "tips" of the plant or one bite, then that grass plant can recover much more quickly. This is what we are doing on Greg's farms right now. The cows have very high nutritional requirements because they are about to have their cavles, so we are just taking the "tips" of the grass plants, and moving on to the next paddock. Since you are just starting, shoot for 60% eaten, 30% grass trampled on the ground, and 10% left standing. I can't tell you how big to make your paddocks, so the 60,30,10 rule is a good place to start. Also, you will know your grass plants are fully recovered when you can find 4 leaves on a plant.

As far as electric fence. Put up an electric fence that they will run into when they go to water or something. This will train them. Then you can use it to create paddocks. Also, buy polybraid, NOT polywire from Powerflex Fence Company. I don't know what the "hot wire trick" is, sorry.

Greg doesn't have a tractor, or any heavy machinery. He has a 4 wheeler, mule and pickup truck. We use a 100 gallon water tank to water 250 head of cattle this late fall, winter and spring. Once it gets above 85 degrees, Greg likes to use his ponds, or larger water tanks. He also has AWESOME pressure, that's why we can get away with a 100 gallon tank for 250 head. Since you have 10 head, you would be fine with a 100 gallon tank if you had even 30 PSI I'm guessing.

In conclusion it call comes down to management. The more time your grass can recover, the better (to a certain extent). You'll be happier, and so will your animals. Not to mention the food the produce for you will be of higher quality.

I'd highly recommend you read both of Greg's books. You can find them at www.greenpasturesfarm.net



Chris, thanks again. It's not often a young punk has something so valuable to offer we old-timers

I'll certainly be acquiring Greg's books.

I do have a few specific questions: (1) What size / area paddocks should I create for ~10 head (including 3-4 calves)? (2) The results obviously aren't something that happens overnight, so during the "transition" should we seed and fertilize (I use organic fertilizer), and continue to SPOT-treat with Grazon? We do NOT broadcast Grazon, nor do we use chemical fertilizers. Our grass is decent, but there it little variety. We have a few (literally) NASTY types of weeds that are VERY prolific if we don't stay on top of them I walk around my pasture with a 5-gallon backpack sprayer hunting new sprouts down. We keep the flowers, clover, and many other "weeds", but these 2-3 special ones need to DIE! DIE! DIE! They are very invasive and are root-replicating, so pulling them is useless, and goats and sheep stay far away from them (and cows too, obviously).

I was planning to seed with an large variety of organic grasses, clovers, etc with some Nitrocoated stuff to accelerate natural nitrogen infusion into the soil. Wouldn't this accelerate the introduction of good forage?

Lastly, what does Greg do about Fire Ants? I never heard him mention them in his video, so I assume you don't have to deal with them? They MUST be managed effectively, and I have yet to find any organic or other home-baked remedy that works.

I probably have some more questions, but we need to implement some of these things. Remember, we've only just been exposed to Greg's video a few days ago. Before that, we were thinking traditionally, so it's a radical change in a radically short period of time.

Thanks again. I really appreciate your time.

Also, I'm checking out your site


8 years ago
I'm a fellow newbie, so feel free to disregard this entirely, but...

Wouldn't it seem best to get some biomass in there? As much as possible, whether you do it "naturally" or artificially -- dump as much manure as you can acquire, or maybe truck in some tons of Leonardite, or some other high-carbon biomass that will get down in there.

Maybe run some heavy equipment over it to try and break and grind it up more as well. Then seed with some of this Organic Nitrocoated or something similar. It's pricey, but you're talking about a relatively small area, so $200-300 worth should do. Seed with a large varietal mix of hearty, nitrogen-inducing forage. That should establish a good sward that can spread over time and conceal your current eyesore.

Again, I'm newer than new at this, so this could be bad information. It seems like you're looking for a way to "beautify" that area with a relative minimum of expense and inconvenience. I would think biomass and a hearty, mixed cover crop / forage would be the quickest path to that goal.

8 years ago

Chris Stelzer wrote:I can help answer some of your questions. I'm currently an intern at Greg Judy's farms.

Using a wormer is providing a crutch for your cattle. The more you worm them, the more they need to be wormed. The key to to rotate your cattle through different paddocks, this will dramatically cut down on parasite issues. Second, you need cattle that have the correct phenotype to perform on grass. That means that the cattle should be short (lower to the ground), and wide, you want to see them with a BIG gut. They should look like a whiskey barrel with sticks for legs (basically). Ivomec is some of the nastiest shit out there. You are not only treating your cattle, you are vicariously putting down ivomec on your soils. This kills all of your soil life, and generally it's just toxic shit. There are some ways to control flys that were already mentioned by the folks above. Greg also have 350 bird houses throughout his farms. These attract tree swallows, which can eat 3000 flys a day. I also think chickens would be great too, but then you have to feed and manage the chickens etc.

Going back to you comment on not having the "resources" to do this. This comes down to you. Greg built his operation by working his ass off. He had a 40 hour a week job in town, and he was managing his cattle everyday, after work. Then he would build fence on weekends and after work. So for you to say that you don't have the "resources" comes down to your attitude. If you think you can do it, you can. If you don't think you can do it, you can't. All you would need to do is put in 5-7 days worth of paddocks on the weekend, and when you get home from work, roll up a reel of polybraid. It's that easy. Then move the water tank every few days.

If you have any other questions I'd be happy to answer them for you.



Hi Chris! Thanks for taking the time to reply. I wish I were a little closer to PA, as I'd love to "intern" and learn by doing.

After watching the video of Greg (linked above) I got most of what you're saying -- although it didn't require much intuition to know applying synthetic chemicals to your cattle isn't a desirable solution.

By "resources" I was really talking about time so much as I was having a difficult time figuring out how to apply this to just ~10 head of cattle, half of which are dairy (Jersey, Guernsey, Holstein), which I'm not sure if they fit the phenotype you're talking about, but our Angus sure do -- they're squat porkers

We have chickens, and that won't change, and they do scatter *some* of the manure patties, but there's no practical way to provide them access to most of the manure. We also have dung beetles, but they seem to be a smaller type, with the holes beneath the patties being about the size of a small pea. I was thinking of "importing" a larger, more robust species and manually introducing them to fresh patties.

Am I correct in saying that Greg's crux is all about DENSITY? How many "paddocks" would I have to build to gain sufficient density for 10 cows? Also, our cows don't know about the deleterious effects of electric fencing, so they wouldn't even know how to fall for the "is that wire hot" trick. Is that a prerequisite to using "polybraid"? Lastly, we do not have a tractor with a front-end loader (or even a large water tank), so what would you recommend for water access? In all honesty, our cows are as much pets as they are livestock. They've had free-range throughout the entire pasture since birth. While we address the practical issues, there's an emotional investment for us here too, so some decisions on what we do will, of necessity, be affected by that. We're not in it for the money (or the loss thereof), but if we can take steps to mitigate expenses such as fertilizer, medications, feed, hay, etc then we certainly want to, at the very least, move in that direction -- even if it results in some hybrid form of using some of Greg's tactics and implementing others or making up some of our own.

Thanks again, and I really do appreciate your time!
8 years ago
Our problem is that we do not have the resources to "manage" our cows like Greg and others do. We have full-time jobs, and our pasture situation doesn't readily lend itself to having multiple "paddocks." We have chickens, but they'll only be able to get to 1/2 of the pasturage, since a stream nearly bisects it. The cows can navigate across it (except during heavy rains), but the chickens simply can't, and their roosts are over here.

I'd love to pick someone's brain, since we only have 10 head of cattle -- both dairy and beef -- four piggies, and about 100 or so chickens (increasing daily). We do this for ourselves and not as a source of revenue (I went into more detail in my introduction post last month). I'm looking for a solution that fits our situation. I am having great difficulty figuring our how to implement anything remotely like what Greg Judy and others so -- as much as I would like.

8 years ago

Walter Jeffries wrote:Nice cock.



I thought it was on the small side.
8 years ago

John Polk wrote:BEWARE! If any of your chickens look anything like this guy,



That's the scrawniest looking chicken I've ever seen.
8 years ago

Mac McCarty wrote:
Why are those prices out of line? I can get an 18-week-old ready-to-lay certified organic pullet for $7.50. After a year of laying they are worth around $1 as a live bird from the farm (or whatever I could convince somebody to pay). I could dress them out and sell them as organic stewing hens for $6, maybe $7, each. (Comparable to $3 per lb). What makes you think that live layer is worth more than $5?



Well, since we put so much into them, I guess they're just worth more -- to us. I'd rather slaughter and freeze the chicken, which makes it worth more than $5 to me, or give it to someone we like for free

If we had 10,000 of them, then maybe $5/ea would seem like a decent amount, but it isn't worth catching one and walking to the end of my driveway for that little. I don't think I'd even sell them at $10. It's just not enough incentive, unfortunately.
8 years ago

tel jetson wrote:
how well does your feed keep over two months? I've found that two weeks is about all I can store feed before it goes stale and the birds won't touch it until they're really hungry. sort of turned me off buying feed at all.



Maybe it's climate-related, but it seems to stay reasonably fresh, and none of our critters complain or eat any less, even as it gets down to zero. It still smells fresh, but the "bulk" we're buying now still comes in sealed 50# bags. We were buying large, bulk tote bags of Bovatec, which was more expensive and would quickly break down and clump, with some fungus clumps setting in.

Our new / natural feed does none of this. It smells great and keeps that smell even after 1-2 months of storage in the barn. The feed we use now is ground-up grasses and grains along with minerals, etc.

8 years ago