Winter Grazing Report at Circle Ranch
Guy Glosson helps us with grazing planning and monitoring. He is a rancher, HMI Certified Educator, and HMI Director.
Grazing Report, February 2015
I arrived late Tuesday afternoon and did not have time to look at much of the country.
I went with David on Wednsday to feed the herd in the north pastures, we drove through the pastures they have already grazed, and of course looked at the pasture they are in now.
They were moved to this pasture only a few days before I arrived.
In driving through all the pastures I see that there is abundant cover left after the grazing period. I pointed out to David how leaving the grass is good for the soils and animals of all kinds.
David did a good job of feeding the cattle on an area where the grass is sparse, which maximizes the animal impact in those areas. This will set the soil surface up to catch and absorb the most rainfall which will plant seeds and stimulate the growth of forbs and grass plants.
The calves look good, and David and Evi reported that the bulls are working, which of course means that the heifers are cycling.
As with any herd of cattle there are a few animals that are not doing as well as the others. Their performance has been set back and they will be behind their herd mates. Also it is likely that these animals were put into the herd in order to get the numbers desired for the pasturage agreement. In other words the buyer likely knew they did not necessarily fit the group and he was trying to fill the truck. These calves were hard to find and put together in the time that was available. The cattle are just not out in the country in any number, and at the time many of these cattle were bought the market was going down and people quite selling them, making them even harder to find.
Evi and I worked on the Grazing Charts, recording the moves and discussing how the cattle are moving through the pastures. I emphasized to him that we can and need to use all the pastures in the Desert, he discussed water trough issues in the West Pasture and we discussed possible ways to sort this out. Overall Evi and David are doing a good job of getting the cattle moved and taken care of. The progress is painfully slow, but, sometimes going slow turns out to be faster and will result in long term benefits to the habitat which will benefit all the animal species at Circle. Things are good, the people seem happy, the cattle seem happy, and judging by the number and size of the quail coveys I saw, I would say the wildlife are happy too.
Expressed simply and without jargon, planned grazing is easy to understand.
Rule #1: Overgrazing depends on time, not animal numbers:
Rule #2: Graze your cattle as if they were a small herd of bison, back in the day.
Here is more on the subject.