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Taking a overgrazed pasture to a healthy productive pasture

Updated: Sep 16, 2023

Having the opportunity to go out and speak to a lot of great people. This is the question the come up often

"Our pastures are very over grazed and non-productive after years of continuous grazing. We are planning to start rotational grazing.

Where would you start in an overgrazed situation?"

If I were to start with an over grazed situation.

1. Soil test in the past I have seen where the soils are way out of balance and can cause some issues with establishment of new plants species. For example, if you were way high in K make the hay and move those nutrients. Not always possible.

2. Try to identify some of the plants that are existing. Are they desirable or potiently productive? You can change the species of plants just by management. For example if you graze shorter you will have more broadleaf plants. If you leave more cover on the soil, you will have more grasses.

3. I’m not sure how often you plan on rotating your livestock. If you can do it at least once per day, you can utilize up 80% your forage vs 35% continuous grazed pasture.

4. The plants need rest. I do not graze any grasses that are not in at least 3 ½ -4 leaf stage of growth (orchard grass, Fescue, or perennial rye grass) Meaning if you cut a plant at soil leaf, it should have 3 ½-4 leaves. It may take a bit for your plants to get to that point.

For the most part you can increase your overall production with those four steps.

5. If your still not productive, perhaps an over seeding will help.

6. Total redo, but that can be expensive. I would only do that as last step. Keep in mind 90% of all seeding failures are cause of fertility. So, pick plants that are adapted to your soils.

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