Our operation is a cow/calf business. We have both commercial and pure bred stock. The business is run by me, my wife, and three children. We took 160 acres of mixed grasses and legumes and divided it into 14 small pastures.
Before this grant I had fenced off drainage dikes and creeks with temporary fencing. I had also divided larger pastures with some temporary fencing. I have been doing this 3-4 years.
PROJECT DESCRIPTIN AND RESULTS
Our goals are to reduce costs as well at increase profits on our cow/calf business while increasing our water quality and environmental surroundings. We want to decrease fertilizer costs while improving pasture quality and diversity.
Two years before I stared this project I began reading about different pasture management systems. One year before I attended a Grazing School conducted by the University of Missouri Extension. Just before starting my project I attended a fencing seminar by the UM Extension. From the UM Extension, Bruce Lane was very helpful with information.
Tim Clopp from NRCS was also very helpful. Tim helped layout my grazing plan which included fencing and water.
My results included dividing 160 acres into 14 smaller pastures or paddocks. This also included fencing a creek that runs into the Midda Fabius watershed.
The first year was unusual because of the cold wet weather in the spring, but I still managed to run 50% more cow/calf pairs on the same acres then the previous year with continually moving the cattle, the grass rebounded very quickly. Without commercial fertilizer, the grass remained dark in color and grew rapidly. The fall pastures was better quality and much more abundant then previously. I was pleasantly surprised by this abundance of forage which was obtained by simple management tools and fencing and water placement.
As of now I would not change anything with the system. I believe this grazing system will allow me greater returns, both financially and environmentally with water placement throughout the system the creek and drainage areas are not used by livestock. Therefore bank erosion is not occurring as well as the cattle are not promoting rot by standing in the water.
The only disadvantage of this grazing system is moving the cattle frequently, which actually makes you a better producer by allowing you to have more contact with your livestock. You can see any problems quickly and with moving them frequently they are calmer and gentler allowing easier control.
Environmental impacts is quite obvious, no fertilizer or herbicide run off into the water systems, no erosion into the water systems.
Economic impact, money saved, money earned, less commercial (fertilizer, less seeding, less fuel. The cattle do it all!
In September 1997 the UM Extension had a field day at our 160 acres grazing system. There was an excellent turnout with 20 people attending. They came from all surrounding areas with some traveling 150 miles. They stayed for 4 hours. We walked much of the system looking at the fencing layout, the fencing material itself, the water layout and water material and the grass itself. We observed different paddocks comparing the forages, comparing the growth and diversity between paddocks. The Um Extension and NRCS sent fliers and brochures promoting the event.