Lessons Learnt

Honestly, every entry I write could be entitled ‘Lessons Learnt.’ Usually, i learn things by bad experience which is unfortunate, but those are the ones most remember, right?!

As you know, i’ve been practicing Jaime Elizondo’s Total Grazing/Real Wealth Ranching technique now for over a year (wow! went fast) and even with my few cows and decidedly unevenly applied practice, there is a credible improvement in nutrient distribution and sward thickening.

Lesson 1 from this past week.

Even with proper paddock width, have at least 850 feet of poly braid on your reel.

One of the tenets is to design paddocks no more than 650 feet so that a reel of poly braid is easily managed and doesn’t take long to set up. However, not all paddocks measured out will be less than that due to undulating lay of the land, ditch crossings or going around ditches, draws, fingers, etc etc ad nauseum. I came up very short on one of the reels i’m using on paddock #15 and had to scrounge through all that i had in the back of my Gator. Thankfully, i had a couple long bungee cord with gate handles already attacked plus a bare piece of narrow poly braid i could tie on. About 40 feet all together to make it to the other side of the paddock. Good grief – lots of extra work. Gonna add the extra length as soon as i get a chance and put an end to extra work.

Lesson 2:

Bolster ditch gap fence!

Jaime had an excellent podcast/blog just this week about making and keeping those fences ‘hot’ (electrified). Although my fences were boasting 6.9 kw, that was not enough to keep the cows from pushing the single strand electrified rope blocking the ditch.

My previous type of managed grazing would have usually let me get away with this, however, when I’m pushing the cows/calves to graze older and perhaps less sweet grass – the stuff that really needs grazing and fertilizing to improve – they will push the boundaries if there is young green grass just on the other side. Total Grazing

Normally, the poly rope is sufficient, that is the one you see looped down through the ditch. I’ve already bolstered this one by adding the poly tape, but they blasted through it pretty sure as soon as i left
So, i grabbed a 50 foot section of poultry netting and stuck it in just before dark, made it hot and had to leave. Cows were out again next morning having once again trampled it into the ground.
Once again trying the electrified poultry netting but bolstered with 1.2 inch fiberglass poles driven into the ground.
Using a gate handle designed for electric fence is a quick, easy fix to attach fences. This orange polycarbonate has been my favorite style for decades. The wide hook allows me to hook onto just the 1.2 or less inch fiberglass posts when i need to keep fence tight but not hot.
I also moved this Speedright S1000 to a location previous set up for a much larger system which i had removed since i’m no longer trying to power all the fence on my property at the same time now. At this location, the energizer is better grounded to ten 6 foot buried ground rods which are located in the pond bank so they stay damp year round. I also unhooked a section of fence which was not longer necessary since the cows could water out of the ditch. Both of these practices made a better ‘snap’ and bumped voltage to 9.2. The good news, all these efforts paid off! The cows were in place when i checked on them Sunday afternoon.

Lesson 3 – Check paddock fences occasionally during growing season

Since i’ve moved the cows to start grazing on their winter stockpile, I’ve discovered that my 2 wire hi-tensile fences are largely ‘down’ and/or sagging badly. This is mostly if not entirely due to the large numbers of white tailed deer in our area. The deer cause not only damage to fences but also graze out a lot of the tender grasses and legumes. The work comes in at having to repair all the fences and allow the forage loss when calculating the amount of feed available to one’s livestock.

Since choosing total grazing, one half of my farm has been allowed to grow nearly an entire grazing season so it is beautiful, thick, with fat roots, and seed production. A fence that is down will be buried beneath the grass and entirely ineffective as a psychological or even quasi physical barrier. Pulling the wires up from underneath the mass of forage is a bit of a struggle and time consuming. I plan to stay ahead of that by keeping an eye on deer damage during the growing season and repairing fences so this doesn’t happen.

3 thoughts on “Lessons Learnt”

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