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

Thanks for prayers! We've brought in some home health care items to make him more comfortable. My oldest daughter has stayed down there this week....she is a respiratory he is in good hands.

Took a few pics of cows last week as they moved into the native cut. I will share those a few from earlier in the year.
Interstitial pneumonia....hypersensitivity to normal toxins....pré-existing sub clinical issues....bill for a vet visit....then a final last ride down the lane. Healthy the week or day before....dead the next....classic bovine pneumomia.

Two texts of same grass from 2 folks is 2 states last week.....must be 'deer tongue week'....aka Texas pannicum. Here is a patch of it in a swale on high ground....cattle take about half at this stage.

A new to me wildflower.

They gravitated to burn regrowth.

Dwelling dung beetles not far behind.

You could hear them tearing off switch leaves from a hundred yards.

Calves following suit. Whole herd is 1000+ feet from water at this point....that is one huge benefit of switch....'remote camp grazing.

They moved and were content...Had just enough time before dark to test surface water.....most all ponds etc 40-150 ERGS....tributary creek 210 ERGS.....mud hole at culvert stomped out just before move 300 ERGS. Sufficient water quality to preclude disease issues.

Just graze and observe,
Wet forage and impending rain took me off fence and onto the tractor. Drilled a couple small plot and moved on.

Hit the rocky reclaim ground around pond.....SLOWLY. New Pond sure got full last month!

Yup and I drilled right through switch to better cover that soil!

Glad that was done....sure is rough!

Cleaned out drill by trying a test plot in pasture where warm season annuals are senescing. Didn't fore see her here!


Rolled down forage is a predator magnet. Gone the next eve!

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A timely rain is keeping us out of a few minutes to update.

Noticed nice stand of trailing wild bean of edge of bottomland food plot while drilling. No herbicide in this plot for several years. Keep the spray rig parked to get plants like this established.


When someone figures out how to mount a cover crop roller on the front of grain drill frame, blowouts will become no issue. And you won't need a second pass or second tractor or water to add weight. Anyone with a portable welder and some time to come down here and build a prototype is more than welcome to take the idea and fly with it! Front frame of drill needs to be 18" off level ground and some adjustment in brackets to 16" in case more down pressure is needed. Got monies worth from this used tire.....planted all the way back to road....then limped last couple hundred yards to barn.

Very familiar symptoms reared their head again. Spent a few hours delivering tissue samples and talking with OSU lead pathologist. No one knows. Fat slick full healthy cow down. Anaplasmosis PCR internal temp...anemic....very low PCV.....all CBC counts low (white red platelet).

Noticed nice patch of a non vetch legume in fence row while pulling vetch off Hotwire.

Likely singletary pea or related. No pasture broadleaf weed spray since 2010. Parking the sprayer pays back in spades.

Somebody got copper head bit on the we went back to the vet.

That's about enough bad luck and stress for on week!

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Spent the weekend at SPGCA in Alabama for stress relief and to see some southern adapted cattle in the field working! There are 60+ people standing in a 1 ac paddock listening to a speaker on microphone talk. 60+ head of SP cattle moved in when Hotwire gate was opened and went to work! Folks.....that is gentle easy keeping tender beef right there!

The clover you see is MiHi Persian clover. Claimed to have An aroma deer can smell from 5 miles.

Noticed an innoculate chart on another thread....there is little need for that now. Google 'ABM cover crop inoculant'...a new patented microbial which does about every legume you will plant except soybean. Eagle seed carries it and it came with my summer blend.

Maybe you know this speaker, Greg Judy? We had some nice conversations. He is interested in deer habitat management. We will talk in the future!

Richard Petcher was there to give a cover crop talk and peddle seed. I borrowed my mixed summer plot recipe from Gabe Brown and the Blackleg Ranch in ND for free! A lot of other folks borrowed and tweaked the same idea! So can you! Figure out what works and role with it!

There was a fellow who pulled up a cow pea plant and asked Richard if it was a black oat. I took the time to show the fella on the side what black oat looked like and several other plants. Many folks are interested in cover crops...those in the know need to take time for educational opportunities!

Rain fence to check and a herd to look at and move! All I will say is that I'm tired of looking at cattle with poor heat tolerance and non-slick hair coats! There will be new kids come to town soon!

Have a blessed Fathers Day,


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You've been busy. I don't know what to tell you about the rep. problems. Sounds like you've thoroughly checked it out though. Hope it doesn't become serious.
A drill mounted cultipacker or crimper should be easy enough for a local to tack together.
Is your "new to you' plant lemon bee-balm? We have quite a bit of it flowering right now.
What is your blueprint for the perfect electric fence. I think I'm going to have about .3 mile to run and will need new supplies for it. I'm thinking polyrope and fiberglass posts were your preferred (if I remember right)... what about post spacing? How much distance do you like between them.
Perfect fence? LOL....there isn't one as all may need some maintenance. As ex, 4-5' of vetch had grown over the fence I checked yesterday. The quickest fix was to cut polywire in middle, pull it out at the ends, rerun and splice.

How many posts you need and spacing depends on terrain and wire tension...less on flat than uneven ground....fence pliers will drive them deep enough (or by hand pressure on wet ground) using the white nylon Kencove cap. Figure one post every 30' and go from there....should have some extra posts that way. 2 quarter mile rolls of Kencove 9ss polybraid will work....set them to 32' height for pairs and stockers....maybe lower to 28" when small babies. Install one of the small plastic twist type tensioners in the middle to adjust tension over time.....tighten at ends upon install. Use a 12V Parmack solar unit and ground to barbed wires of hard fence. Should give you ~9kV on the wire. And DO NOT turn the charger off intentionally when cattle are near it.....I don't care how well they are wire point in training them to breech a down wire!
Cat, I'm over the initial shock of 2 going down. Just watching close and exercising damage control at this point. The biggest issue I am facing is most of the herd has poor heat tolerance and non-slick hair coats which makes a hit on cow hardiness. The way to combat that is through culling and selection and use of heat tolerant breeds. Clean up your hair coats and that takes care of many angus needs some work there IMO. Dormant Bermuda is short in that part of pasture as it was mowed for cover crop planting...herd grazing out the brassicas in mix.

Pic above was taken Dec 12 2016 when custom herd was here. Cow is an F2 cross of red angus mated to 1/4th SG 3/4 RA. Slick hair coat, moderate frame (1000 lb), docile, easy fleshing...the latter three traits give tenderness and marbling. Moderate frame, depth, girth and good udder give fertility and longevity. That same cow type fit this area in the 1970s....just as well as they fit today...the ecosystem is the same. Climate and habitat determine optimum cow size...the same way as for deer elk etc! That cow type will work well in the majority of states in the US with few issues!

Yesterday wasn't bad. One possible respiratory (watery eye, crusty nasal discharge but 102.4 temp...not treated). One lame with front toe chipped into quick...she will heal. One clinical pink eye (wincing behavior) which I will need to treat next week before ulcer explodes and notch her ear tag (marked for future cull). I expected stress and health issues this week as temps hit 95 with heat indexes 100+, forages transition from cool to warm season and some poorly adapted cattle. Toss in rain with a cool front....expect some issues! Here is what clinical pink eye looks like!

My point here is that 'grass fed genetics' do not mean 'adapted genetics' since there is a myriad of 'grass fed management systems' being used today which may not match 'your grass fed system and your ecosystem/ climate'. Be very patient in selecting cattle to purchase and expect your area to cull animals which don't fit the area. There are cattle being sold which will fit your area, but they may not be up for sale when you area ready/eager to buy...again wise culling should be employed. Readers interested in using cattle to manage wildlife need to be well versed in both do not have to own cattle to use them as a management tool. Some days it is peaches.....some days it is cream.....some days it is peaches and cream!

Just graze and observe,

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Moved cows and that lead to a check of perimeter fence with a neighbor. Both of these pastures have one thing in common.....forages in both were overgrazed this year. His is chronically overgrazed with no recovery period. Mine was acutely over grazed and given 75 d recovery. table top mid-April....4 day stay....cows grazed 5' under fence.....efence was expanded giving larger area....problem solved. Three d stay this week to compensate. Here are picks of poor ground part with low productivity potential. Note the difference due to recovery alone!



Here is a few picks of more productive pasture area.

Common Bermuda up to crotch tall and no heads on it.

Either dallis grass (tame forage) or giant paspalum (warm season native).

My cows were full in a matter of minutes. His will not fill up in a day!



His pastures were weed sprayed within last two weeks. There is very little green palatable forage for cattle or wildlife to use. There is very little cover for both.

My pastures have not been weed sprayed since 2010. There is plenty of plant diversity and complexity for both cattle and deer. Deer were bedded on that 5 ac when dog and I went there to fix fence. When cattle bed on the pasture they practically disappear (4-5' tall fescue seed heads in some areas).

The issue here is not overgrazed forages or severity of grazing. The issue here is not what herbicide is used or presence of weeds. The issue is simply how much recovery period grazed forages are allowed and how long cattle should stay.

Take the pacifier out of your mouth, park the sprayer, put the money back in your wallet, and learn how to manage forages with a cow herd. Use a blade if and where you need too....or tighten the fences for higher impact to break frail weed stems then give longer recovery favoring grass/legume!

Just graze and observe,

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So red is the new black? My Dad always said whether 1 or 100 cows theres always something to deal with.
On rotational grazing how do you handle water for cows. In thinking thru the process seems that is biggest issue
Coat color doesn't make a crap bit of difference to heat tolerance and parasite related issues! I have blacks reds and grays with slick coats. Sleek coats, early shedding and skin/gland secretions are what you need to look at for adaption in areas with hot summers. I evaluate 'coat score' (scale of 1 to 5 first week of June...1 is complete shed) while checking cow herd late evening during dry weather. Long hair or wet coats hide many issues. Evaluate over several years to determine culls and to eliminate cow age effects on shedding. First of June is just prior to onset of high heat stress risk and just prior to onset of forage transition stress. If coats are not right best you can do is provide deep shade with air flow or allow them to wade in water.

This pic was taken 10 May. They are 3 of 4 Ohlde black angus bred heifers. Coat scores are 1-3 in pick. Oily skin secretions.....thymus gland secretions on lower neck.....will graze and loaf in open pasture mid-day....few outward fescue toxicosis symptoms....low respiration rates...i.e. heat tolerant and parasite resistance. Breeding them to a south poll bull would be a complimentary breeding....offspring red or black.

Again.....coat quality before coat color and it takes a couple years to see that!

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Stockwater....probably the biggest cost!

I use ponds or other surface water trying to keep travel distance from far side of paddock to water at under 1000'. Each surface source supplies water for 1-4 paddocks via controlled access points using hot wire across bends or corners...think of water source as a central hub for more than one paddock.. Over time, that will lead to manure loading and overt hoof impacts of shoreline around the access points. To compensate for that you use a pump and above ground lines under fences to remote tanks with float valves....or you haul water in large storage tanks on a trailer/dump truck with short lines to feed a tank with float valve...or you use pressurized well/rural water and a ditch-witch and bury lines with pop up valves every so far apart.

Unless a care-taker is on-site every day, I would use a 'hybrid water system' where tanks with lines and limited access pond points are used together.....when on-site for several days use the portables to push manure loading away from pond to far sides of paddocks....when away use both in case a pump, line or float fails so cattle can go back to pond if needed! It only takes one goof on your part with portable water to kill a bunch of cattle in a short time in hot weather. In cold weather, cattle can walk a long way to water. During the spring flush, plant water can be so high that cattle don't go to the ponds...same for deer.

The first and most important investment to make is fencing....fencing....fencing! It is the least cost/ac and the highest potential return/ac improvement you will make in terms of $$ returned to management. As funds dictate, add in some portable water for more flexibility in the grazing system or site specific impacting. More people run out of forage and go broke feeding stored feed long before they run out of water...think about that! Those that run out of stock water during drought...sign up or USDA money for pond dredging, then restock the land!

I have a friend who runs purchased stocker and development heifers under contract. He has a 1000 gal tank on a dump truck....short hose, 2" float valve and 50 gallon tank...waters 7 head at a time and super fast refill time....truck with tanks follows the herd twice a day or however often they move. Most always a backfence unless shade is needed. Areas inside fence around his pond are mob grazed once each 1-2 years for brush suppression.

Here are the facts on water.....millions of American bison used surface water solely (no tanks pumps etc)....that worked extremely well and the world didn't end.....but during those years and in those areas where anthrax was endemic the bison population sure took a hard hit (death loss) from surface water use! The same is true in Africa via predation around limited surface water. Anthrax is from a soil born pathogen.....lethal outbreaks precipitated by extreme weather patterns, human relocation and/or war. The most economically damaging anthrax outbreaks occurred more than 50 years ago. Small cases occur now.
The last anthrax outbreak in Montana occurred in 2008, killing 300 bison at a commercial ranch and also infecting several bull elk and a cattle operation's bull, he said.

Good clean water is good for animal health and top performance.....there is also a point of diminishing return in terms of water purity level/unit of production increase. The cow will let you know real fast if water quality is an issue. During the dust bowl and great depression cattle were driven on horseback to water on a daily dad did that chore as a teenager living or a farm/ranch near the north Canadian uncles did the same further south in OK.

Just observe the cow's drinking habits and adjust accordingly,
We were so fortunate to have a swift creek running through farm at house, and Oakmulgee Creek at farm down the road. I guess refixing fence at creek crossing should have been a welcome chore. My dad did the rotational grazing but without the philosophy behind it. Had good water
Noted on the e-fence. Thanks for the input.

We were in a drought not to long ago. I talked with several ranchers who said it was the water quality that was affecting production. They had water but it wasn't good water and herd health suffered. Wts went down and meds went up.

I'm trying to figure out this rotational grazing thing with a small chunk that a can experiment with. I'm pretty sure I'll know when to take them off... it's when to put them on that I'm struggling with. It seems that something is always in bloom or getting ready to head out that I don't want to interrupt. What do you look for in vegetation that indicates time to graze?

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If it is a mass herd effect, then water and feed should be suspect. Newly received cattle can be very sensitive to water quality while their immune system is compromised. That is why I offer native prairie hay, supplement and tap water in a trough the first few days upon arrival, then turn out to grass. Trough water should be made available at weaning too....bawling calves will stress, get hot, then may go wade in the pond leading to foot or diarrhea issues, perhaps coccidiosis outbreak. The key is minimizing weaning stress....fence line weaning helps there.

Let me address surface/well water quality first, because you can tie up a lot of cash sending water samples to a lab....or a hell of a lot more cash putting in a water system only to find out your surface water quality is sufficient as-is. Handheld water conductivity meters are used to measure water salinity, alkalinity and total dissolved solids...start there! Find one to borrow and use if water quality is suspect in health diagnosis issues. I borrowed a Myron unit (reads max of 5 mmhos/cm conductivity) from a friend to check our surface water sources. This doesn't exclude an oddball shallow seasonal water pool cattle may use....test major sources first. It is real easy (fill meter chamber with water 3 times, dump the first two as a wash, read the third....rinse chamber with distilled water when done. I checked 12 water sources spread over a 3/4 section in 30 min.

The chart in this link from Spectrum Analytical sums up water quality and livestock health very well. Basically, conductivity values under 1.6 mmhos/cm are very safe for livestock. Values of 1.6 to 4.7 mmhos/cm conductivity or higher may affect animal health.

The majority of my water sources read under 1.4, a few were 1.4-1.8, one was 2.1 and a freshly stomped out ditch pool prior to move was 3.2. None of those readings are highly suspect for health issues. There was no difference due to pond vegetation status, muddy or clear, presence of algae, or age of pond. There was a difference in hoof action vs undisturbed. Thus, soil type, degree of fresh silting and size of pond are primary factors related to conductivity. With temps hitting the mid-90s, it is time to measure again.

The data indicates than if you simply pipe water from a pond rather than let cattle wade and drink, then salinity/alkalinity/dissolved solids will remain low.....however, this doesn't keep cattle from drinking pugged up seasonal water which can be economically impractical to eliminate. Gravel over geotextile fabric at a limited access point will also keep sediment from being stirred by hooves...thus lowering conductivity.

If water is still suspect, then send a sample to the lab for analysis....nitrate, sulfate etc and coliform counts.

Noted on the e-fence. Thanks for the input.

We were in a drought not to long ago. I talked with several ranchers who said it was the water quality that was affecting production. They had water but it wasn't good water and herd health suffered. Wts went down and meds went up.

I'm trying to figure out this rotational grazing thing with a small chunk that a can experiment with. I'm pretty sure I'll know when to take them off... it's when to put them on that I'm struggling with. It seems that something is always in bloom or getting ready to head out that I don't want to interrupt. What do you look for in vegetation that indicates time to graze?

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That isn't an easy question to answer as I may use 24 to 305 d recovery in one year across the whole ranch depending on forages, weather goals, etc. When you start looking at individual plant species or those sparse in number, things can get too complicated. Individual species can be encouraged by affording high impact to retard competition or disturb seed bank then give very long recovery for the sparse species to fully recover. Best thing I can say there is.....get on it at the right time....monitor for desired level of impact....then get off of it and start monitoring recovery.....replan for next year or season if needed.

I look at the growth stage of the primary plant class of interest to decide when to start spring grazing rotation. Time of year, rainfall, goals, animal performance needs etc for when to come back on it. Generally, cool season forage rotation begins when perennial grasses start hitting boot stage...annual grasses mid vegetative.....24-42 d ideal spring...70+d for stockpile or severe grazing recovery. Warm season bunch grass forages when sufficient leaf is present so that if the forage is bitten once or twice, the plant can recover in 40 to 90 days...longer if needed when dry. Warm season runner grasses....40-70+ days for stockpile....28-35 d for growth performance or conditioning. I don't like to go below 24 d very often as that starts getting into the 22 d fly cycles and intestinal parasite larvae. Pastures will cleanse themselves of most pathogens/parasites if given a 70 d recovery if soil level insects etc are active. Fall grazing decisions are made with the premise of a 120-150 d recovery period with cattle afforded fresh pasture each new cut during the non-growing season. To accomplish all of the above we use 21 paddock system most of the year....6 timbered range reserves in time....and strip grazing which can turn the 21 in 42....and a 2-4 week period for 'bale grazing' areas which need high impact, OM and manure/urine loading.

The gest of flexible grazing is the more paddocks you have, then the more flexible you become to deal with a myriad of goals and environmental conditions. Let me say this....we've done flexible rotational grazing for 4 years now and the ranch has been grazed differently each year in terms both of paddock order, number, time, length of stay, length of recovery, and stock density (lbs live animal/ac)! If the land is overstocked (animal #'s per total acreage) or paddocks too few, then flexibility is lost and one will find himself out of forage once or twice during the year.....that is what Andre Voison termed 'untoward acceleration' running out of grass too soon! A quote from Allen Williams, "Rarely will you go wrong moving more frequently, often you will go wrong by staying too long!"

Just graze observe and replan,
Finally made it over to plots which were drilled end of May. Later than I like to plant and dry weather after planting (we missed some good rains). Growth is two weeks post planting with obvious delayed emergence. 1.2" rain on Sunday should finish that process. No deer fence this year!

This part of plot was grazed along with 2 adjoining paddocks for 7 days from 4 to 10 May. Impact was modest allowing substantial regrowth before planting. Review pics earlier in this thread to see amount of regrowth. The day after drilling, the 4 ac plot was rolled with a transmission pole roller and sprayed with 30 gal apple cider vinegar + 50 gallon water + 0.5% crop oil. Pretty much did NOT work as only a few leaves of anything showed herbicide injury. Next year or this fall I will try 5-10% food grade citric acid in water and observe results. Citric acid is much less expense than apple cider vinegar. Vinegar may not suppress regrowth but it is one hellofa tank cleaner!








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Other half of plot is 2.75 ac. Same mix plus yellow squash, okra and leftover garden seed from last year were drilled same day as other half.

Cattle grazed this plot along with adjacent 2 paddocks for 8 days from 14-21 May. Impact was heavy with >90% of plot grazed/trampled. Pics of that plot at planting are further up in this thread. NO ROLLER AND NO SPRAY! Better suppresdion than other plot and a flush of new brassica too!







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About 30 deer hit plots each eve. Most summer annual broadleaf forages and sweet corn won't survive.

Cattle are doing well. Those animals and traits which are not adapted to this area are showing themselves. Red cows were black on control was done sat AM. The grey bred heifer was treated for pinkeye. She weighed 780 lb on 8 April and 930 lb 150 lb in 75 d....or 2 lb/d daily gain....condition 6.5. To control horn flies....a syringe case is taped to end of a pig tail post....calibration marks for cow and calf dose or pour on insecticide added....with cattle in small pen simply pour on their back as they walk by. This avoids stress of alley and working chute. We are not running high enough stock density where cattle hoof action help shred severe fly loads will need remediation.

Most probable cause of death was either braken fern toxicity (can find enough plants to fill a pigmy goat)....or.....T2 myco toxin in wilted vetch. The jest is....spring weather and vetch canopy conditions created a perfect storm for fusarium wilt. Fusarium species are common fungi in soil and this particular species produces the T2 mycotoxin which becomes toxic at 100 ppb. It can be tough to find mycotoxins in the I sampled refused plants in the last 2 paddock prion to herd going into rangeland and some wilted vetch plants in a pond reclaim exclusion area. Results were 75 ppb T2. There is no medical cure for mycosis. Canopy and plant density management along with mowing in spring will help. A binder can be fed in mineral feeder to help tie up toxins in the gut....hydrated sodium calcium aluminosilicate hydroxide.....aka momtmorillonite clay...aka Redmund conditioner.

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Not all soil microbes are beneficial all of the time.....some afflict plants and produce toxins. As Gabe Brown says, "Cows live a good life here, then have one bad day!". I would prefer that bad day culminate in a trailer ride to new zip code, rather than ill unintended consequences of well intentioned management.


Several counties in SW MO have been put on the hit list for CWD. As a preventative measure MDC is requiring abatement of supplement and mineral feeding by July 1. Is CWD an ill unintended consequence of otherwise well intended management? Was elk relocation into the Ozarks a catalyst?

Just graze and observe,

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