Saturday, November 16, 2013


A few weeks ago (mid October) I went for a ride across most of our property and was really impressed with the quality of our pasture.

At that time, we hadn't had any rain since about April. A long dry winter and well into spring without rain, so some properties around our area were looking pretty ordinary with very short grass.  Winter is traditionally a dry time for us, but we do get the odd bit of rain. Looking back through past diaries, I note that we often get some rain around Fathers day (1st week in September), which means we will then get mushrooms.....Sadly, this year, no rain, no mushrooms! But I digress....

Despite the lack of rain, our pastures have held on very well. mostly due to the last three very good summer wet seasons, and cell grazing.  We have two different soil types on "Anabank". Our lighter sandy and scrub soils still have plenty of green grass and the leauceana is still growing well.

The heavier black soil country has good feed still, but has very little green showing through.

We have been cell grazing since 2003 and rotational grazing before that. It really has paid off for us. We are carrying more cattle each year and even now at the end of our dry season, we have more cattle than we've ever had on the place, and still have reasonable pastures.

I've talked about cell grazing before, and I just can't emphasise enough how it is the KEY management tool we use to retain moisture and improve pasture quality and quantity. Thus improving production of beef. It does take a bit to set up and costs a bit in the beginning, but is so worthwhile. We have doubled our carrying capacity by using this grazing management.

It only works though if you successfully match your stocking rate to carrying capacity, as well as get the rest period right. Grass needs time to recover after grazing - at least 30-60 days in the growing season and 90-120 days in the dry - it's based on the growth rate of the grass. So yes, you do need plenty of paddocks to manage this correctly.

Resource Consulting Services were who we went to for the education needed to undertake this change, but there are other consultants that do it.

Since planning this blog post, we have had some lovely rain - 100mm in the last three days. The beauty of managing our pastures means that rain like that will soak in. Grass helps the land absorb the rain, so there will be less run off. Although some run off will be great to fill our empty dams!