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Friday, June 21, 2013

Cell Grazing

Our casual job is keeping an eye on an 80 acre property across the river about 8 kilometres away. The owner lives in Sydney and comes up at weekends. During the week cattle have to be moved most days and various other chores completed. Fortunately we are allowed to job share. The work load various from season to season and from day to day. Sometimes no urgent work is required and a day off is appreciated. Sometimes one hour and other times up to a day if a new fencing run is to be finished. Anything from 40 hours to 100 hours each month split amongst two. For us this is an ideal arrangement. Sometimes we work together and other times only one has to attend.

One of the benefits of Cell Grazing is that each cattle movement defines a bracket of work. After each move the paddock is harrowed and sometimes slashed. Because the cells are small the workload is small. Occasionally we will trim the grass under the electric fence. In a one hectare cell this is quick. Previous owners would spray Glyphosate under the fence resulting in woody weeds growing rather that grass. Now with the trimming, grass grows and the cows trim under the fence line leaving us to perform a once a year clean up.

During calving the small cells assist in making checking progress easier. Calving girls stand out i.e. usually off in one corner of a cell. Once the cow and calf have bonded we slip them into the cell ahead so that the new mothers are always getting the best feed one cell ahead. A lot of care is taken to ensure that the new mother doesn't have access to too much green feed for the first few days as they are coming of a restricted diet leading up to calving. The restricted feed regime is fewer cell movements and greater access to hay or silage in the last month or two of gestation. Managing the feed intake has aided in fewer calving issues.

Setaria Grass Cell in Autumn

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