I think sometime soon i'd "like" to split my land up into two pastures and rotate between them to give them a chance to rest/recover.
I did some onlinereading and as always came away with some conflicting opinions.
As far as goats go, in the deep south, how long should the rest period be for a pasture, looking at it from the plant recovery angle and giving long enough time for the parasites to die off?
Its the 2nd part , about parasites that has me the most confused. I've even read some things that rotating between psatures that have not been at rest for at least several months exacerbates the worm problems!
Maybe in the end I should not consider the parasitic benefits of rotation and concentrate on just the pasture recovery/plants? Maybe one month grazing, one month rest?
How many goats do you have? The size of your herd is going to be a factor in how long to leave the pasture empty as well. If you only have a few goats, the contamination level is going to be minimal compared to someone with many, many goats.
Post by garysfarmer on Jun 21, 2011 11:41:47 GMT -5
This comment would be under ideal conditions/land spread.
Start with day one when you put them in the pasture. Calculate up until a couple of days before the first worms would have time to hatch out. Rotate to next pasture and continue new pasture rotations until the parasites in the first pasture have died. Then rotate your goats to that pasture.
I don't know how long it takes a parasite to die once it hatches. Of course there would be other factors to consider as well such as drought, rain, heat, cold, ect. If my memory serves me well you would have to have a lot of paddocks/pens to do this.
This is a very controversial subject with a wide range of right and wrong answers and more variables than one can imagine. With that said here is what I would do if I were in your shoes. I would forget about the parasite part. Mostly because that parasite control through rotation can truly only be achieved with multi-species rotation. Each parasite is different, and some can go dormant for a really long time and then with the right conditions come to life with vengeance. So, I would just concentrate on the plant growth aspect. You should also look into growth rate of pasture grasses at certain temperatures. For example cool season grasses like fescue go dormant at temps above 90* and below 50*. So a good mix in your pasture is a must to have a successful rotation.
Post by Rose's Goats on Jun 22, 2011 8:34:39 GMT -5
I have read that 18 days of rest is perfect timing for the grasses in a pasture to grow enough that they are at the point where they have maximum nutrition and growth without going to seed. Once the grasses go to seed a goat won't eat them and you will have to brush hog or mow your pastures. I like to keep my goats moving so that they are always on fresh grass. I rotate my 3 goats every 3 days. It only takes mine 3 days to annihilate all the grass in a pasture. After that they won't graze anymore and just sit there crying.
Read "You Can Farm" by Joel Salatin if you want to learn more about rotational grazing. He's pretty much the guy who invented it. And he's a great writer!
It also depends on the type of pasture. The ranch land around here would not sustain that many goats. I you have fertile land and plant a graze crop you are less likely to have an issue. I would monitor the condition of the grasses and time to recovery. If rotational grazing is all you are after the recovery time is the only controlling factor. Rain, drought, heat and cold will play a role in pasture condition. It takes 45 to 60 days to eliminate Haemonchus Contortus from a field during the summer months here (according to the universities anyway). That would likely be your major parasite problem depending on where you live. Haemonchus can winter over especially in the south however ready to hatch during spring rains. It also can go dormant in your goats. I hate that little bugger. I am currently holding my herd off pasture to keep try to avoid the larval transmission stage. We have had a little rain and that is usually followed by worm bloom. When the fields dry I will put them back out.
Post by nicophorus on Jun 22, 2011 18:39:20 GMT -5
On a related note, do any of you in the deep south sow ryegrass in the Fall to give late winter forage? I mean, its either that or bring in some hay rolls after the first frosts (well i'll probly have to do that anyways but... less hay rolls maybe if I sow ryegrass).
As more and more goats are born/grow , I know i'll have to do more intensive "pasture management" if I'm going to stick with as a low imput system as possible (while not sacrificing on animal health of course).
So in addition to at least doing some simple pasture rotation, im wondering about some winter grass.
Post by garysfarmer on Jun 26, 2011 6:59:01 GMT -5
I also sow rye in the fall. I've only done it for about 3 or 4 years. Once it gets pretty cold it seems to go "somewhat" dormat. However, in the very early spring it will make up for it. I also consider it an anti-bloat measurement. With a little green throughout the winter the early spring greening burst won't effect them.
Ok sounds good, I think I have a plan to improve my forage now. Gonna divide it in two with portable electronet, use these summer rains to fill in all the bare areas/spots with a good pasture seed mix for my area and then plan on sowing ryegrass in the Fall.. Rinse/repeat as needed.
I wonder if this will cut my future hay bills down to almost nothing...