Egyptian wheat....mowing.....planned grazing


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Several folks have asked questions about preparing high biomass summer plantings for fall planting. I set up 2.5 acres today and will move cows into it tomorrow for full access to this and the rest of paddock for a week. Thought I would share a few pics and observations. We have not visited the plot in 60 days.

Cut a 10' swath around perimeter of plot and several 5' lanes across the middle to make it easier for cattle to access forage and have some visibility. This gives an idea of height and shows some perennial clover and chicory being released. Mowed in mid range 2 at 1800 rpm.

Cowpea and soybean vine late in the season and will climb as high as the tallest plants. Sunnhemp is 4-10' tall and starting to bloom. Deer have put significant pressure on most of the summer annual letting cows handle the biomass which deer have left makes the most sense.

True egyptian wheat (EW) has massive brace rooting ability to keep 14' tall plants standing. The brace roots are 18" or more up the lower stalk. Zero fertilizer has been applied to this plot in the last 12 months. Residual soil N and N fixed by hairy vetch and other legumes in the fall mix are feeding the crop. Soil is well covered to ensure biological activity of soil fauna and hold moisture . If your EW does not brace root like this then what you were sold may not be EW, excess N was applied, and/or seeding rate was too high.

Started out by mowing as low as possible then raised the deck so the plants would not be uprooted by mower deck and to monitor thatch thickness/windrowing. Here is what that looks like and there would be little issue drilling right after mowing if one didn't have cows. The cows job is to remove leaves and upper part of stalks for optimum light penetration to soil below....should be able to drill right through what is left standing....or can mow stalks if needed. EW will regrowth from the base after cows leave to a height of about 3' and new shoots will grow off of some stalks.....the plot can be grazed again in winter for a mix of standing sorghum hay and green winter annuals. During the interim the acres will remain a self screened food plot for wildlife.
I like it, D. Thats pretty strong EW growth on residual N.
Do you have any pics of the pond banks that you seeded to a mix of seed? Or perhaps these pics are from that seeding?
Looking forward to seeing the pics after the cow herd is done. A video with sound of the cows eating that smorgasbord would be neat.
That's interesting on the brace roots. I've planted EW at least 4 years now and never seen that. This year I got a mix from a different source that has EW in it and have noticed the brace roots for the first time. Makes me wonder what I was planting before.
I like it, D. Thats pretty strong EW growth on residual N.
Do you have any pics of the pond banks that you seeded to a mix of seed? Or perhaps these pics are from that seeding?

Above pics are from a 2.5 ac NT food plot/garden....we picked 30 gallon of yellow squash from it earlier in the season....deer have eaten most of the annual and perennial broadleafs and legumes.

Here are some pond reclaim pics.

This is a new pond on the tame pasture side. Top of dam, toe slope and any disturbed ground were drilled with a diverse mix. The soil and muck from an old low spot have high OM and high fertility. This growth is protected by single strand of efence and cattle have grazed all around it for two weeks and two rotations but never breeched the fence. A corner on far side is used as a water point for one of those paddocks. I will let them graze/trample this in a few weeks, then drill a fall blend and keep protected with fence through fall. In the middle you can see the top of dam...the mix didn't take there....but the teff grass and Bermuda did.

Dozers disturb too much soil....and our native lands don't have very thick topsoil to begin with. The background of pic shows some of the mixed planting which is all over the board in height from droughted out short to surprisingly tall....ZERO N....a bag of potash, a bag of phosphate and a few bags of pellet lime were a starter on this reclaim ground. The foreground of pic is where dozer simply moved a brush pile which was too close to a fire break....less soil was disturbed and you can see the OM rich topsoil. The native grass seedling are mainly switchgrass which I hand seeded a few lbs of a 3 variety switch mix (kanlow, kaw, Alamo).
Looking forward to seeing the pics after the cow herd is done. A video with sound of the cows eating that smorgasbord would be neat.

The sound of those mouths ripping off sorghum leaves is music to my ears! The pasture they were in prior to this was primarily Bermuda ranging from 24 to 80d regrowth....manure piles were starting to stack with scores running from 3-4. Bermuda quality declines fast in the heat and declining daylignt in late summer and it is hard to keep animal performing. The manure after just 2 days with access to the plot improved to a score of 2-3. Warm season plots are a very good supplement to late summer mixed warm season grass pasture....fescue and the native winter annuals won't provide much nutrition until November. These plots will 'flush' the fall cows before calving begins next month.....should help winter calving cows regain condition...fall calves from last year like the steer on the left will gain over 2lb/day on this mix. I noticed some hard EW seed on the mower deck so EW is reseeding itself for next summer.

Here are a few pics of the carnage with 2 days of access by a total of 72 head of cattle. Suspect it will take a whole week to get the desired level of suppression. The ground and thatch will get heavily fouled with manure/urine yet the forage high up remains clean....that is real important on weekly moves. The N in manure/urine will be sufficient for good brassica growth in the fall mix. I still have a camera in the plot and cattle are grazing this quite a bit at night until 11:30 pm.

So my wife and I drove down and over to Talihina (Sp?) on Sunday to drive the Talimino Bypass. It was a long drive but some beautiful scenery. On our way home (don't remember the exact route) but took us through a town that has a Viking Rock Park or something like that. Anyway, I saw a guy on a tractor with a beach umbrella that looked just like yours out doing tractor work. Made me think of you.

Umbrella makes summer tasks bearable. Pretty sure you didn't see me as Sunday the umbrella and I were having finally broke and I just let it go...too hot dirty and tired to mess with it. Tough to beat for $20 and they make one now with sides which tie down.....hopefully Sams still has them on the shelf...or I'll take the time to fix this one!

That is Runestone State Park at Heavener OK....petty neat Viking history. I have a couple friends who do regenerative grazing in that area....they have been in a drought this summer.
Leave it to mr. dgallow to put cameras on cows. :D:D
Does that tell you something? Besides the obvious question of what your cows do when you're not looking? has been there for months....I just left it in is on a modified fence crossing and a mowed lane leading into the plot which should focus deer travel this fall....will probably add a T-post and scrape tree once cows are gone and area planted.

I will say that that cams are useful for monitoring cattle behavior, site use, and their interaction with predators. Cams are there to monitor wildlife activity but some of the images of cattle are helpful to livestock management. The herd behaves totally different when no human is around or vehicle driving about...and that is the part many stockmen never get to see!
I know the sound you speak of well. We use loppers on our sweet corn stalks after we pick our corn and feed the stalks to the cattle. They start on the leaves then eat the stalks. It usually takes about a week of doing this to clean the garden up in the evenings and it gives us some entertainment or at least me anyway.

Looks like the cow herd is doing a fine job and you will get the results you are wanting. It's just going to take some time with that much forage.
Not as much time as you would think! Were you surprised by the text message?

At a distance yesterday, I could see the backs of cows over the stubble so knew they were done with it. A few were lingering in the plot when I went to move them late today and were pilfering through trampled stalks.....had to drive the ATV in there and call them out. Sufficient clover remains to keep deer interested. The herd was slow to move which means they left a bunch of unfouled pasture behind and were full. That is actually better than having them rush through the gate because we waited a day too long moving them. Will drill this plot tomorrow and see no reason to spray or mow. Will give them access to 3.5 ac of summer plot for next week and go back to mowing the Bermuda they left behind and plant it next week. Only 0.2" rain today but was surprised to see regrowth in pasture mowed last I went ahead and drilled that 8 ac ahead of the front later this week. We normally drill into moisture of the first good rain mid-Sept..... even though we are abnormally dry I decided to start with 2 weeks of cooler weather and chances of rain head. There is always more risk drilling before the correct summer breaking rainfall....but I have drilled successfully in worse conditions. Owner is supposed to haul off the short yearlings (10 month old fall calves) this week so that means 17 less mouths and 68 less hooves to prepare pastures for planting.

That looks awesome what the cows did. Just what you intended for them to do. Surprised by the text message...yes and no. That was a lot of forage for the cows but as you know the cow will always pick the best to eat first. I'm a little surprised that the cows didn't eat the EW stalks to the ground. Does EW not hold moisture in the stalk like sweet corn does? I've never grown EW so I'm not sure.

Hope you get some timely rain on those plots you planted. Difference in lots here is...Plots were planted September 2 and the one that I let turnips go to seed this spring I nuked in early August and it is growing well other than where the tress are and in that area is just now starting to come up...pasture is just now starting to come up as well but is way behind the other. At the farm you can see the rows where I No till drilled into clover but as of yesterday not much happening but if these chances of rain hold true they should be up by this weekend. There is just no comparison to plots with and without competition from other plants. Just my observation but I already knew that when I planted.
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Competition or corroboration? all the years of doing this IMO: 1) people forget about the time component of yield and 2) the yield comes a bit later in time when existing competition is not fully suppressed. IF you want the earlier part of the yield curve to happen faster then 1) chemically suppress all existing competition and 2) add low rates of N at if we were in a rush to get enough 45 d growth for fall stocker calves, then spray and N might be feasible....but for brood cows we don't do the spray or N and allow 70 days before grazing and 70d regrowth between grazings. I get high yield by simply managing time between 4-5 grazing bouts from early winter to late spring...very economical supplementation IMO. Does that make sense?....if I want more yield, then I simply increase the time between disturbances. Take your clover for is a perennial and at some point this winter it will slow down, that is when what you drill will gain yield. By having other plants in your clover, the field will also yield more forage!

More for Less in Pasture; A nine year study.
A nine-year study shows that multi-species pastures provide 31% more forage than a two-species mixture. And since the multi-species mix also improves soil health, those pastures are more drought tolerant too.

Sure the EW stalks had water in them and it was flicking on me when I drilled through it. Boy was that driving over basketballs! The lower stems on EW with wide plant spacing are the diameter of a baseball bat and the root ball well past diameter of a basketball......EW with narrow plant spacing has a smaller stem diameter and could be eaten lower to ground. Forage quality declines as you move down the stem and the risk of nitrate poisoning is highest in the low stem (lower 6").....considering that....the plot is 'properly grazed' IMO. A good way to screw up a cow herd or teach them to breech fences is to force them to eat everything to the must leave some leave behind to get good recovery and regrowth and not stress the cow!

Turned them into the other half of plot last weekend after mowing two passes on the perimeter and a couple of mid field lanes. They were put in a fresh pasture the day before and I only needed to call them once to go in the plot gate. Placed mineral feeder in back corner of plot for more trampling effect. They passed me while taking pictures and 'went right to work'!

Low ground area of this plot stayed wet and cool at spring we got a sparse stand in foreground of pic and a very heavy stand in background of plot on higher ground. Main competition in pic is barnyard grass and we would need 2 grazings during summer to knock it back...or rotate to RR beans and spray just before canopy closure to clean up the field. At this stage of growth, barnyard grass provides little for the cow and there is no regrowth to spray. They will trample many weeds while eating EW, beans, and cowpeas. I noticed some of the Eagle forage beans had pods but not sufficient enough for a winter food source. I know there are some cockle bur in this field which need to be mowed when cows are moved.
These are willows native to the ranch, they were planted into plastic about 3-4 yr ago as 9" long limb cuttings of 0.75 to 1.5" diameter.....during a rainy day in march....they cost nothing other than the time spent watering and no special care. NONE of the hybrid poplar we purchased and planted in zone 7b have survived! Your best screening plant likely resides on your farm...and it is free for the taking! I need to plant a few more cuttings for a fuller perennial screen...late this winter....if I have time and the though crosses my mind. That places a lower reliance on EW in plot mixes.....we can use wild game sorghum instead!
Drought teaches valuable lessons, and the mix variety in plots or fallow fields make a huge difference in available food for wildlife in those times of stress. And yea, I guess for those cattle too, I hope you pay them well for doing your work.
Makes sense to me. I'm still think it's competition and lack of moisture but time will tell. Dogghr he is paying them well with forage to eat just look how healthy those cows are. Looks like 55 gallon drums for bellies to me.
We manage against drought with 'stockpile' or 'reserve' or 'longer recovery' or 'slower moves' and sustainable animal density. I have lived through natural conditions which eliminate the majority of plant competition and leave one wondering if the next wave of plants will ever emerge. So we need to be mindful about 'eliminating' competition because there may be a poor future for the new things you want to grow! You just never know for sure what the next week will be like....I like the content feeling of having many plants on offer!

The move to fresh ground and unfouled forage is sufficient payment or 'reward' for the cow...the moves are addictive to cows just like heroine to a drug addict....or persimmon drop to deer....this is a 'mental' game for the animal! The animal benefits of frequent moves are improved health, ease of handling, less stress, more contentment and increased longevity....not to forget benefits to soil, ecosystem, and humanity. It takes about 3 years for a conventionally managed herd to acclimate to life under rotation and about the same time for management to gain base working knowledge of the land resource....those animals who don't acclimate should become a welfare project for another producer!

Realize that domesticated livestock and fowl and household pets are the only species forced to live on their own filth! What is wrong about that picture? And we wonder why vaccination programs, prescribed antibiotics and feed delivered medications are soo common place? It has to do with 'cleanliness' of the habitat and animal adaptation (or lack thereof)! Filth is just something no specie readily adapts to!

Beef prices are declining is time for the rubber to meet the road in terms of production costs (economic issues)! The pressure against confined livestock is increasing (social issues)! Public awareness of low level antibiotic issues in meat is increasing (human health issue)! How can we expect to manage the animal in the same way as the days of old given the walls are crumbling around us?

Look at the world around you.....the number of new and odd diseases?....middle age and elderly folk having severe food allergies and need for elimination diet protocols?....obesity?....poverty?....civil unrest?....all indications of societal disfunction!....and perhaps the landscape/animal issues as a catalyst?

Fist of the fall calves was born in the destination plot yesterday....only 2 days after yearlings from last fall were hauled off...that is hard on the cow as mammary tissue doesn't have time to heal...that is not good stock management but I don't own the cows so someone else's issue to deal with eventually. Sometimes....I just have to shake my head at people and go onto other things!

Mom and babe stayed in the plot, while I moved the herd to 60+ day recovered native rangeland (planned graze to reduce fuel load in a fire buffer). Rain during the night and a full day of sunshine perked up the native grasses (high brix) the gate and counted the cattle....they put their heads down and just stayed quiet. I left the plot gate open and the range gate open to let the herd reassemble on their own this week (cows don't want to be separated from the herd for very long). Don't like to let the herd stay on any piece of ground over 9 days...but one must adapt when babies start hitting the ground (no back fence so 14 day access to the plot and last pasture).

We were blessed with good rain and no runoff.....that will insure adequate winter stockpile of C4 grasses....the mid-90s heat this week should germ brassicas in the mix and should get decent growth before frost.

Early AM moist soil means 'show time' for the old drill. First stop was some dozed reclaim ground back in the native to drill there when soil is moist since it won't hold moisture for very long and get's hard when dry due to low OM....just remembered I forgot to add humus pellets to the seed mix...oh well...maybe I'll remember that next spring. Wanted to get 12 ac drilled yesterday but only got 10 done...that is okay least the reclaim ground and another tame pasture is done! The plot grazed this week will have to wait. We use very simple old equipment (new small box tubes this year...and yes a zip tie will hold tube against press wheel frame...if one comes loose, there are spares on the drill).

An old tire rim makes a good jack stand for the drill....back right up and hook up quick! We constantly swap the mower and drill this time of year and don't like to waste time on the switchover.

Did you know cows are also a seeding tool? Not sure if this is pearl millet or EW germinating in a manure pat from last week. Either way should get a couple feet of new growth before frost.
Your posts are always so thought provoking.
I normally read forums before daylight each morning and often times catch stray bits of your posts floating around in my head later in the day!
Your habitat work thru the herd demonstrates how to set goals and work with nature to achieve. Have read your posts for a coupla years ago now and finally am beginning to understand some.
Thanks again for taking the time to teach:D