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Four Never Fail Rules of Grazing                                                         The Midwest Cattleman · August 19, 2021 · P11

               By Victor Shelton, NRCS State Agronomist/Grazing Specialist

         It’s state fair time!  I enjoy  and  not  dwell  on  the  farm
      watching the livestock shows  work that must be complet-
      and eating some  “healthy”  ed.  I know that I am not the
      food.    Walking through the  only one this happens to.
      beef barn always reminds me           I had something sent to
      of old cattle shows and sleep- me recently and I thought
      ing on old Army cots located  it  made some  good points.
      where the cattle were stalled  When time is sparse, as it
      during the day.   It was ex- seems it often is, then we
      citing and a lot of work, but  need to be as efficient as pos-
      very traditional and still  sible and that includes pas-
      done with a straight back  ture management.  The brief
      truck at the time – different  synopsis included four never
      times, but all good memories. fail rules of grazing.  Let’s ex-
         I hear people mention the  plore these.
      “lazy days of summer,” but         Number 1 – Never let seed
      I’ll have to admit that has        heads form on plants.              matures if not removed.  Ide- viding adequate rest before
      never really seemed valid for         I often talk about three  ally, you want to keep the for- grazing again.    Allocating
      me.   I’m glad that the days       major     stages    of    forage ages in that second stage as  out smaller amounts helps
      are long, because quite often,     growth.  The immature stage  long as possible.  During this  to provide more even grazing
      I need every minute of day-        is early in the year when for- stage, nutrition is good, bite  and less patch grazing and
      light and then some.   Pre-        ages are high in moisture  size is good, and the plant is  avoidance.  Grazing helps to
      carious weather seems to be        and usually nitrogen and  continuing to grow leaves.   delay seed head production
      timed quite well to disrupt        have less structural compo- Once seed heads start form- and sometimes, if the forag-
      plans and tasks.  This is only     nents.  Next is the vegetative  ing, a lot of energy is shifted  es are not stressed, there can
      doubled in difficulty when         stage of rapid growth with  to seed production and away  be a reduced amount of seed
      you are also holding down          some plants in the boot stage  from the leaves and roots.            heads.
      an off-farm job, which always      and  thinking  about  sending        We  can keep  most plants          If needed, a timely clip-
      seems to take you away when        up seed stalks.  Finally, is a  in vegetative form by rotat- ping  can really  slow down
      the weather is perfect.  You       maturing stage, where seed  ing livestock across them on  seed head production and
      have to just shut your mind        is produced and eventually  a regular basis and then pro-
      off, focus on the task at hand                                                                                        continued on page 26


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