Plant farming and cattle grazing need not be isolated approaches to operating a farm. There are many reasons to combine both practices together, from financial benefits to land preservation. Adding cattle to your farm is quite useful in aiding crop rotation, since you’ll be able to use the crops to protect your land while also feeding your livestock.
The first thing to do is to delegate specific uses for different portions of land. Not all land on your homestead is multipurpose, due to its quality and nutrient levels. This will also be a factor in terms of cattle. This will help you create an efficient plant rotation plan, using your land based on what kind of yield it can provide. Therefore, each crop you harvest will have its own prime season, allowing you to compensate for any overall issues with your soil.
The rotation of your plants must be part of your overall plan, and should be coordinated to benefit both the plants and the soil. There are many factors to consider, such as flock or herd size, crop species, acreage, planting season, and times when the land can be grazed.
You should establish when you will graze, and when you plan to harvest your yield. This will allow you to anticipate stocking rates as well.
Stocking rates are the ideal metric when it comes to using cattle in your crop rotation. These rates determine the amount of animal pounds that can be placed and grazed on a specific unit of the farm. Livestock management increases as more animals are placed per acre, but labor per livestock unit decreases. Grazing too many animals on too small a piece of land can damage the soil more quickly than spacing out your grazing herd over a longer period of time.
The best way to create separate grazing areas is by fencing. This allows you to monitor which parts of your soil are occupied by livestock and when to move it. The livestock also remain in their designated areas when kept in by a sturdy fence that cannot be jumped through or destroyed. Fencing could be temporary or permanent, depending on whether you plan to move the livestock from one area to another. Planning ahead is essential.
Livestock should be moved from one pasture to another frequently, in order to ensure you do not overuse the land being grazed. This allows both animals and land to receive the best treatment, and plants are allowed to regrow faster.
One of the best ways to do this is to test the soil yourself, and move livestock once a change is detected in the soil’s nutrients. Alternatively, you can simply move livestock on a predetermined schedule.
The goal of relocation is to allow the land to recover, recuperating soil quality and plant life so it can be re-used for grazing again. To achieve this, you must be organized. The process begins by keeping livestock away from that area, through a technique known as back-fencing. Plants that specialize in soil replenishment can also be used.
Adding livestock to your crop rotation is beneficial for both animals and plants. It allows your farm to become more efficient as well, using manure as fertilizer and feeding your animals off your own land.