Animal disease traceability helps animal health officials know where diseased and at-risk animals are, where they’ve been, and when. This information is essential during a disease outbreak. The USDA is currently working to strengthen its traceability system to protect the long-term health, marketability and economic viability of the U.S. livestock industry. To prepare for […]
Lightning is an unavoidable threat to livestock, farms, and ranches. Since most farm operations are located in areas where there are ample pasture land and plenty of open space, farm buildings and fences can often attract lightning during stormy weather. Since this electricity follows the path of least resistance from the sky to the ground, it is […]
Forage sampling in a standing pasture allows us to get a feed value estimate of forages that will be fed to livestock. It’s also helpful for making sure your forage is at the best stage for cutting hay. While you can look at it, checking the color, leaf to stem content, and the stage of […]
If you go to enough workshops about grazing, you’re bound to see an illustration that shows how biting off the tops of plants impacts their roots, and how if you graze short enough, the plant won’t have enough roots to rebound and produce more leafy material. In fact, if you’ve been with us at On Pasture for any length of time, you’ll have seen a version of that illustration.
When left to their own devices, livestock can be picky eaters, Dr. David Fernandez, Extension livestock specialist and interim assistant dean of academic programs for the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff School of Agriculture, Fisheries and Human Sciences, said. Animals allowed to graze freely over an entire pasture will often repeatedly graze the […]
First off, let me assure you I do not hate horses. In fact, this article is not really about horses at all. It is about soil and grass.
Horses, though, can really improve grass and soil even though the way they are currently managed does the opposite. It’s just that when horses are grazed in a group with cattle, sheep, and hogs (what I call a MOB), they have some peculiarities as does each species I have dealt with.
There appears to be a hierarchy of species when they are combined. Saddle horses tend to have an air of aristocracy above all others. It’s not even all horses; just saddle horses. For some reason, being trained changes a horse’s perception of itself because I have not seen this behavior when grazing bucking horses.
Cattle, on the other hand, are pretty easy going and are content with good grass and clean water. They do not, however, appreciate pushy sheep. Yes sheep are pushy! They butt to the front of the line and don’t observe proper social etiquette. For some reason sheep don’t take the hint when a cow bunts them out of the way. Hogs can be that way as well, but are actually the social butterflies of the MOB. They don’t really care who they hang out with as long as there is good grass to eat. Side note: turkeys have not fared well grazing with larger animals. The economic loss from irate cows and curious hogs made me abandon adding them to the MOB quickly! Maybe someone else has been successful, but it wasn’t me.
When putting a multi-species MOB together, the first two weeks is when you see these behaviors amplified. The saddle horses will do things like block a gate after the MOB has been nicely flowing for a quarter mile. As a herder, you will be in the back wondering why the whole MOB has stopped. You glance up to see your favorite saddle horse turned sideways in the gate blocking any animal from passing. It becomes your job to ride to the gate and chase that horse through the gate with a stick, rock, or something hard to get your point across. Like I said, horses are jerks! Maybe I am being a bit too hard on horses because I have had a couple bulls do the very same thing.
For the MOB to work effectively, it requires a strong leader. YOU must become that leader. If there are bunch quitters you must harass them and teach them the MOB is their safe place. It doesn’t matter what species or what age. Each animal must know they are safe as long as they stay within the MOB. If an animal is blocking a gate you as the leader must let that animal know it is unacceptable behavior. If a cow keeps bunting sheep away from the water you must get after that cow. It may be difficult if the horse blocking the gate is a pet to you. Out in the MOB there are no pets, only equal members of the MOB. So suck it up and be a strong leader! (Here’s the technique I use to teach my animals that “Happiness is Being in the Herd.”)
After the initial training phase is over, you will see amazing things happen within the MOB. The animals learn they are part of one unit. It doesn’t matter what species they are. You can still sort off the animals you want, however, if you happen to bring in only the cattle or only the sheep, you may turn around to find that the rest of the MOB is following. Even the horses!
GIS is an abbreviation for Geographic Information Systems. In practical terms, GIS is the application of the science of location and all things related. In the last several year’s significant advances on global positioning and high tech farm equipment has leveraged this technology to increase yields on grain farms, more efficiently apply fertilizers to growing […]
What is Silvopasture? Silvopasture is a popular agroforestry and agriculture practice that involves collective management of trees, livestock, and forage to enhance the overall production of all three. Silvopasture can be set up either by planting trees in a current field or by planting forage in a previously existing stand of trees. Livestock grazing within […]
In every stage of animal husbandry particularly in livestock breeding, the health of the animal is extremely important particularly when it comes to animal farming. Farmers are required to implement practices that promote the health of the livestock to be raised. To keep your animals healthy, they require regular checkups by expert veterinarians who must […]