September 11, 2008

Limiting soil and pasture damage in winter

  • When the soil surface cannot support hooves of grazing animals, especially when wet, small depressions occur which then hold more water.
  • Walking on this surface compounds the problem and mud results.
  • The delicate crumb structure of the soil is lost as they become waterlogged.
  • The roots and growing points of plants are damaged.
  • Pasture production can be reduced by as much as 80% for up to 8 months.
Avoiding problems
  • Have a good pasture cover for calving by building up pasture before calving.
  • Graze wetter paddocks before the wetter part of the season.
  • Use a slow rotation – greater than 80 days in winter. When its dry go slower.
  • Shift stock before daybreak to minimise activity. Hungry stock waiting for their new break walk up and down the fence and pug the pasture.
  • Make breaks as square as possible, to prevent stock walking up and down a long fence face.
  • Stay away from stock when very wet to avoid disturbance, encouraging the to walk about.
  • Start grazing from the back of the paddock to the front. So when you move them they walk over long pasture to prevent damage.
  • Minimise supplements fed out in the paddock. This reduces vehicle damage and reduces stock concentration.
  • Use a stand-off area.
  • Use a farm bike rather than a tractor.
  • Use a back fence to prevent further damage.
  • Use on-off grazing, having stock on pasture for as low as 4 hours before holding them off.

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