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Healthy pasture makes for healthy livestock, specialists say

A couple dozen area producers reviewed some tips Thursday at Bob and Lois Stoll’s farm at 5952 State Route 540 for winter strip grazing and stockpiling, and matching the nutritional needs of their livestock.

Other topics for the annual pasture walk, sponsored by the Natural Resources Conservation Service, Logan Soil and Water Conservation District and the Logan County Cattle Association, included measuring forage in the field and mineral programs for livestock on pasture.

The Stolls raise various cross-breed cows on their 64-acre farm. The cows are given no grain and are entirely grass fed. Stockpile grazing practices are utilized and Mr. Stoll said he used fewer than 15 bales of hay last year.

Grazing specialist and retired NRCS conservationist Bob Hendershot explained that for producers like Mr. Stoll, who intend to implement a stockpile grazing program, it’s imperative the pasture remain healthy and flourishing.

“That starts with a healthy soil,” Mr. Hendershot said. “I like to see a lot of variety of plants in a pasture — switchgrasses, timothy, red clover.

“Density is important.”

Mr. Stoll said 45 pounds of nitrogen were added to his pasture last month to help spur growth of tall fescue grass in the pasture.

Mr. Hendershot surmised the amount of clover growing in Mr. Stoll’s pasture likely indicated a good pH level, adding, “I don’t ever want my pasture to stop growing; if it could be growing, it should be.”

In the next few months, Mr. Hendershot explained, some producers may begin an intensive strip grazing process because plants in the pasture have started to go dormant.

Alan Kauffman, a consultant with Mid-Western Bio-Ag, based in Blue Mounds, Wis., discussed various mineral programs for livestock.

Mr. Stoll credits one particular mineral he uses, which includes kelp, for helping to stave off pinkeye from his herd.

Mr. Hendershot summed up the importance of a healthy pasture.

“A cow is not going to eat until it’s full,” he said. “It’s going to eat until it takes all the bites it’s going to take in a day, which is usually 600.

“We have to make sure we’re giving the animal all the nutrition it needs in those 600 bites.”

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