Pasture Management: Hoping for the best, planning for the worst

Do you have a strategic plan for your pasture?

Graeme Finn is the owner and operator of Southern Cross Livestock in Madden, Alberta.

He says producers need to be thinking about pasture management every-day and that starts with having a plan that takes into account both the good and bad times.

“Doesn’t matter if we are getting 15 inches of rain or 1 inch of rain, when we get in a good rain we should be banking feed, preferably out in the pasture,” says Finn.

“Keep the livestock out there they are healthier or you know baling opportunities or buying outside hay when it comes cheap and storing it in sheds.”

He thinks it just provokes thought on long term management on the way you run your operation in good times and bad.

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Do you have a strategic plan for your pasture?

He says over-grazing is the most common mistake he sees producers doing.

“They are taking every day as if it’s their last, instead of leaving reserves back in your pasture land, they are taking everything they can.”

He adds a lot of people have the mentality that if you don’t use it now it’s wasted.

“Poor quality grassland is better than straw or bringing in high-value feed to maintain your cattle in a drought situation.”

Finn says it’s not a crime to let paddocks rest.

“If you can leave about 15 to 20 per cent of your place that’s not grazed in 2019, it will be the first paddock you graze in 2020, and you will pick another cell or paddock that gets grazed too.”

He says that will carry you longer and save you a lot more money than the guys you are starting to feed right now.

Finn spoke at the Canadian Beef Industry Conference in Calgary in August.