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Get Off to a Good Grazing Season Start!

Nancy Glazier, Small Farms & Livestock
Northwest New York Dairy, Livestock & Field Crops

April 12, 2016
Get Off to a Good Grazing Season Start!

Rotational grazing is the optimum way to utilize pastures. Grazing animals are fenced into a specified sized paddock for a predetermined length of time. These numbers are based on calculations: animals eat and waste from 2-5% of their bodyweight per day in dry matter (depending on specie, stage of growth and production) and they need that many pounds of dry matter multiplied by the number of head. Shorter rotations utilize pastures more efficiently; dairy cows are generally moved to fresh paddocks twice a day and other livestock once a day to once a week. After 3 days on the same paddock regrowth will begin to be grazed by the livestock and can delay regrowth. I don't recommend continuous grazing unless there is much more pasture than the livestock can utilize. This method of grazing leads to poor quality pastures.
Ideal grazing height is 8-10". Can you wait that long to start grazing? No. Wait for the grass to get some growth and take a look at the number of leaves on the grass plants, more than 3 leaves. Some research indicates to count leaves not inches! Grazing when the grass is too small will remove the growing point which will slow regrowth. Flash graze if necessary; move the animals through quickly to prevent damage to growing points. If the soil is wet start grazing when there is a quantity of pasture that will help protect the soil from hoof action. If too much pasture gets ahead of you harvest excess as hay, clip the paddocks fairly closely or bring in another group of animals. This will encourage tillering of the grass plants. Last season's residue helps to protect the soil, too.
Where to start? This may depend on what ground is dryer or what pasture grasses have more growth. Some pastures may be better suited for mechanical harvest so keep that in mind when beginning the grazing season. A rule of thumb to start the season is you'll need to harvest half since the livestock can't keep up. Another option would be to graze additional livestock during rapid growth times.
Keeping residual plant (what's left after grazing) height taller encourages regrowth of the taller plants. Kentucky bluegrass, annual bluegrass, less-productive clovers (think white clover in your lawn), and weeds do well under short conditions. Leaving the residue taller will encourage the more productive, taller plants to flourish and stay productive. Take half, leave half is a good rule of thumb.
Rest period is just as important as residency period. Pastures need adequate time for regrowth to remain productive. Spring conditions that are cool and moist encourage fast regrowth, 10-14 days, hot and dry conditions may warrant 40-60 days.
A big problem is leaving grazing animals out too late in the fall. I have been told by a seasoned grazier that one day more in the fall will be three days less grazing in the spring. Grass plants need root and rhizome reserves (stored energy) to begin spring growth. There will be little leaf material to capture sunlight for photosynthesis so energy to begin growth is supplied by the stored carbohydrates. This can't be helped now, but keep this in mind in the fall.
A great way to learn about grazing is to attend a pasture walk. Those that host one learn more than those that attend, so I have been told! If you'd like to host just drop me an email!  











calendar of events

Upcoming Events

2019 Corn Silage Pre-Harvest Workshop - Penn Yan

September 17, 2019
10:00am to Noon
Penn Yan, NY

Corn silage harvest is drawing near. The way corn silage is harvested and stored is a single event that affects your operation for the entire next year. Are you prepared to set your operation up for success? 
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Ontario County Fun on the Farm

September 21, 2019
11:00 am- 4:00 pm
Seneca Castle, NY

Fun on the Farm works to educate non-farm public and our neighbors about agriculture around them. It is fun and educational.

Fun on the Farm attracts thousands of people and gives us the opportunity to communicate to the community the benefits of the agricultural production in Ontario County, the state, and the nation.

The event is free! There are many agricultural products that are available to be sampled. It is the perfect place to try that product you have seen in the store but didn't want to commit to purchasing.

Food is available to purchase for lunch. It is provided by a local service group.
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Bovine Reproduction and AI Training Course

September 24 - September 25, 2019
9:30am - 3:30pm
Shortsville, NY


This two-day AI workshop will be held on September 24 and 25. 

Topics covered will include:

• Reproductive Physiology
• Synchronization Protocols
• Heat Detection
• Artificial Insemination
• Proper Thawing of Semen
• Loading A.I. guns
• Practice Breeding Cows

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Preventing Sexual Harassment on Farms

If you're wondering how to get your farm business in compliance with NYS Sexual Harassment Regulations, you've come to the right place.  The 2018 New York State budget included new regulations addressing sexual harassment in the workplace that became effective on October 9, 2018 for all New York employers, including agricultural employers. All employers are required to have a sexual harassment prevention policy and to provide annual, interactive sexual harassment prevention training for all employees.  Check out the resources developed by Cornell Ag Workforce Development, including step-by-step instructions and farm-friendly training videos.

RMA Announces Additional One-time Changes to Prevented Planting Provisions

June 29, 2019

RMA Announces Additional One-time Changes to Prevented Planting Provisions
for 2019 Crop Year

In response to delayed and prevented planting resulting from above average rainfall and wetness, the USDA Risk Management Agency has made a one-time change to the 2019 crop year prevented planting rules that effectively allows silage corn, if planted as a cover crop following local agricultural expert guidelines, to be acceptable as a post-prevented planting cover crop. Under this one-time rule change, producers are allowed to produce this crop while retaining their prevented planting payment. This change couples with previously announced one-time changes to the prevented planting rules - including expanded acceptable uses for post-prevented planting cover crops and a change in the cover crop haying and grazing start date rule - serve to help those struggling to meet their forage needs due to the weather.

Read the full article from the New York Crop Insurance Education Program.

The USDA-RMA states that "For crop insurance purposes, a cover crop is a crop generally recognized by agricultural experts as agronomically sound for the area for erosion control or other purposes related to conservation or soil improvement." PRO-DAIRY specialists Joe Lawrence and Karl Czymmek and Dr. Quirine Ketterings, Professor and Director of Cornell Nutrient Management Spear Program have released a letter stating "Corn on Prevented Planting acres meets these objectives."