Thursday, May 3, 2012

Fresh pasture

Last year we began doing some rotational grazing on the farm. This means we move the cows when they have eaten their pasture, and put them on fresh grass. We don't do it as intensely and purposefully as some farmers, but we do our best. This past Sunday we moved them again.  

First, Farmer John mowed a path where the temporary fence posts would be placed. Mowing helps in two ways. First, it prevents the electric fence from grounding out on high grass. Second, it (hopefully) discourages the cattle from pushing through the fence to get to greener grass. 

Next, he set up the posts. They run in a path from near the chicken coop, around part of the hayfield and back up the hill. It's hard to tell, but the next photo shows almost the whole area that we fenced off, not including the two garden patches. 

After the posts were in place with three insulators, we began stringing the electric rope. Farmer John got a nice spool to help with stringing rope and cleaning up when we move it again. This prevents the massive knot we had to deal with last year.

Last year we only strung two lines of electric, and we were constantly herding the cows back to where they belong. The cows would push their way under the lowest line to get to the grass on the other side. They didn't get a shock because their horns were what was touching the line. This year we strung three lines. Hopefully the very lowest line will zap their nose and not their horns, and keep them inside the fence. 

After all the fence was in place, and getting a good charge, we started the best part - moving the cows. This involves Farmer John yelling "Heyyy shaggy coos!!!", and several in the herd come running. Here he is with the first cow to enter the new pasture. 

As soon as they cross into the old fence line and onto the fresh grass the munching begins. They are like huge lawnmowers chomping away. 

A couple got confused as to how to get into the pasture, and ended up headed towards the barn. Farmer John herded them back up the hill and I got them headed through the open part of the fence. 

Highland cows on lush grass makes everyone around here very happy. It's tricky to see, but that big guy is smiling. 


  1. Mollie - this is one of the best posts yet for me. Seeing that farm used in such a responsible manner is delightful! Thank you so much for sharing.

  2. Thanks Susi! I'm glad you liked it! And yes, that is the coop you're seeing in the background. It might be time to move those gals soon too.


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