Michael Cox wrote:Have you looked at the work by Allan Savory on Planned Holistic Grazing. I would start by reading all you can.
Is your 17 acres subdivided, or one big paddock? Subdivisions make for easier stock rotations. If not you could start by strip grazing with electric fences.
Does your land have bare soil between grass plants, or is the ground cover good?
Do you have specific objectives in mind regarding improving the land - eg increasing the number of days the creek flows, improving soil cover, increasing soil carbon content, etc...
I visited portugal recently - old olive groves and cork plantations, grazed by cattle. The soil looked tired, bare in places, overgrazed by continuous cattle coverage with no rest periods, seasonal streams were all dry by late spring despite occassional rainfall. It was crying out for Planned Holistic Grazing.
Regarding buying your own cattle or not, I would suggest making some kind of agreement with a local farmer to graze some of their animals. This will give you a better idea of stocking rates that your lamd will take - just make sure you have an arrangement in place to return some or all of them if your stocking rates prove to be way off.
I should say, i'm not a grazier myself - just fairly well read - do your own research!
Renate Haeckler wrote:I'd say start with a modest number of cattle or even a mix of stockers and sheep and put them in paddocks and see how long it takes for them to finish grazing one paddock before they need to be moved. If you do that for a whole year you'll get an idea of grazing days per animal and any seasonal changes that affect the rotations while you tame the weeds, so you should be able to make an educated guess at how many you can stock, and I'd say don't stock it to full capacity because for one, as the animals grow they'll eat more and secondly, if there's a drought or something you'll be forced to either overgraze, feed hay, or sell some animals when the prices are low.
I chose not to use stockers just for the ethical reason that I didn't want to be inputting anything into the stockyard system. So I started right off with the breeds I was most interested in (Dexter and Highland) and just undergrazed for a year until I saw how much the pasture could support. If you take your time and only buy the animals that are the best you won't have regrets from disease brought onto your land or low-quality animals.
Before you have animals there to be in the way, it's a good time to do swales, ponds, and tree planting. Animals are drawn to anything new in the pasture and can be a pain in the *** when you're trying to do anything in their pasture!
Tyler Stowers wrote:I was wondering what advice there is for putting together a grazing plan for a piece of land that has been fallow for several years?
I imagine this is an 'it depends' kind of an answer and I have a specific piece of land in mind, so the variables that immediately come to mind include:
About 17 acres, mediterranean climate, access to seasonal creek, maybe 20-15" annual rainfall, low budget, no current animals, modest sward of mostly weeds and some grasses (several years ago, the land was a former dairy. So I imagine there is a decent seed bank of grasses).
Does it make sense to contract graze year one vs purchase animals? If purchasing critters is the decision, which kinds? Calf/cow? stockers? stocking density? stocking rate? mixed species? all together? separate?