From March of 2017, Greg Judy’s tips for transitioning through mud season to good grazing. In just a few weeks it will officially be Spring. It’s the time when we start seeing a tinge of green grass poking its baby head up.
Middle of March is also the normal time to have tons of mud to deal with. The frost is out of the ground, snow is mostly melted and the grass is barely growing. It’s this excess moisture that can turn your pastures into a mud lot if you are not careful with your livestock grazing management.
Strategy 1 for Mud Season – The Sacrifice Lot
You have several strategies at your disposal to keep from destroying your future spring pastures during this period. The most common method is to have a sacrifice lot to put your animals in while the ground is soft. You feed hay in this mud lot until it is safe to return your animals to the pasture. This method has both good and bad outcomes attached to it. The good is that your animals are not allowed onto your pastures which could leave pug marks and compactions issues.
The bad points attached to leaving them in a mud lot sacrifice area are numerous. First and foremost you are now working for your cows, having to pack hay to them. Second, now instead of having all your nutrients of manure and urine deposited evenly across your pastures, it is all being deposited in a mud lot. What was an asset, now becomes a liability. When you drop that much manure, urine, and hay in a mud lot, all you’re doing is growing a good crop of weeds the next growing season. Third, when you lock animals into a mud lot you are asking for a herd health wreck. Mud breeds disease, period. Once the cow hair coat gets covered with mud, it takes double the feed to keep them warm. Instead of a nice soft fluffy hair coat, it is matted in the mud. I’ve known folks that calved in a sacrifice lot so that they could keep an eye on prospective new mothers. This is the best way I know of to get scours in new calves. Anytime you take animals out of their natural environment and coop them up where they are exposed to their manure, health issues will show up very shortly.