From the Ground... Up! - Grazing Management with Steve Kenyon
Recently, NOFIA partnered with FBC to bring Steve Kenyon to Northern Ontario for 5 one-day grazing workshops (Cochrane, Manitoulin, Rainy River, Kenora and Thunder Bay). Steve is from Alberta and is a custom grazier and educator, farming in a sustainable and economical way and helping others to make the most of their pasture land. Here are a few key points from his workshops:
The first thing to consider when developing a grazing plan is whether or not it is feasible. Everyone things of production practices first as being the most important, when really the economics (will it be profitable?) and the finances (can I afford it?) are bigger determinants of whether or not a management decision is good. That being said, the number one determining factor of whether or not a practice can be done is human resources. Do you have the man-power to accomplish the tasks at hand? These are things that need to be considered before developing a grazing management plan.
Building Pasture Productivity From the Ground...Up!
Pasture productivity starts at the soil. By managing soil organic matter and residue, soil health can be improved, leading to healthier pastures. By increasing the soil organic matter and water holding capacity, the amount of water available to the plant is increased because less is lost through run-off and evaporation. With the increased availability of water, the plants are more resistant to drought, allowing for more resilient pastures.
When grazing, you are really managing the root systems (what is underneath the soil). Some varieties (such as sweet clover) have a root system that is ideal for breaking up the soil and building soil organic manner. Including these varieties in a pasture mix will set you up for success to improve pasture productivity.
Things to Think About When Designing A Pasture:
Physical Land Restraints
Separate Forage Types
Manage for Riparian Areas
Protect Water Sources
Plan for Animal Movement
Convenience of Winter Management
Why is the risk of bloat higher after a rainfall?
This is because photosynthesis is required to break down the molecules that are the cause of bloat. When it rains, there is less photosynthesis occurring due to cloud cover.