An Introduction to Grazing Management

February 26, 2024

More Info

Participants of this session will be introduced to the difference between conventional continuous grazing and managed grazing systems. They will also learn how to assess. pasture conditions and soil health. Plus, see where small changes can make big impacts.

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Video Transcript

My name is Kable Thurlow and I am a beef and grazing educator. I am housed in Gladwin County, which is in central Michigan. If we were using the hand, I'm right about here. Typical Michigan description. Right. The UP up there. Michelle, I'm not sure how she's going to show you where she's from, but she'll be able to do that here in a litle bit. But I've been with MSU extension since 1998. I started out as a 4-H livestock educator and the livestock agent at the time, actually, and then moved into different roles throughout the time. Now, I'm your beef and grazing educator, Grazing statewide. We're here this evening to talk to you about improving grazing management. Michelle, do you want to introduce yourself? Sure. My name is Michelle Sweeten. I'm a little newer to extension started about a year and a half ago in the UP. I'll just say I'm about 40 minutes from the bridge and leave it at that. I help cover all of the UP and forage and livestock. And my family also farms. We have a grass fed beef farm here in the UP. Good addition, Michelle, I did forget I live on a family farm here. It's a family farm that my great grandparents started back in the 1800s. We do also graze and graze livestock. Graze cattle here. All right. We're going to talk about grazing systems. Basically, if I had to summarize grazing management, if I had to break it into two different systems, these are the two systems that I would put it in. There's continuous grazing and then there's rotational grazing. We'll talk a little bit about the pros and cons of each system, but continuous grazing is what you typically see, that's probably how the majority of the pastures in this state and then the Midwest, maybe even the whole country are managed and that's where animals have continuous access to the same piece of land for an extended period of time. It's usually the entire grazing season or if the animals run out of feed, then we need to move them. That would be the end of a continuous grazing as well, rotational grazing systems. And that's where we're going to spend the bulk of our time here this evening is where we as managers control where and when animals graze an area of land. It's known by several different names in each one of these carries a different level of management with it. But probably the first one coined back in the mid '90s, maybe even early '90s, by Dr. Jim Garish when he was still at the University of Missouri, the Forage Research Center, there is management intensive grazing. Then we have high density or ultra high stock density grazing. This one you may have heard called Mob grazing fits in that category. Then there's adaptive multi pad grazing and then what's called non selective grazing. If we look at the pros and cons of these systems, in a continuous system, there are some pros, there's less labor involved. There's no interior division fencing that's needed or less interior division fencing. There's less watering points that are needed. Again, because we're not moving those animals around. You can have decent livestock performance at lower stocking rates. Now, the con side of that is your management is limited in what you can do and how you can affect the forage and how you can graze that forage. You can have a loss of desirable plant species. That loss of desirable plant species can come from animals overgrazing a plant. They're going to go to their favorite plant and they're going to continue to hit that favorite plant and deplete those plants of their nutrients to where they just can't survive. Then we move into the next set here, which is loss of desirable plant species because of that overgrazing and repeated overgrazing. What fills in those spots, nature doesn't like a void, right? The weeds come in and those weeds increase and our more desirable forages decrease. You can have over and undergrazing a continuous grazing system, and we can explain that later too. On the rotational side, some prosRpad numbers and sizes can be varied. It's a flexible system or an adaptive system. As you can see, or as you will see in some slides here, in the next little bit, you have better nutrient distribution, manure and urine distribution. You have a tighter control of the forage supply and you have a potential for increased forage quality. The downsides or the con side of that is there is increased labor. You will have more fencing and watering points that you need to install on your farm. There, with those increased number of paddocks and moves becomes more management decisions. You have to make more decisions. Now, I don't, I've been guilty of talking about the pros of this type of system quite a bit and maybe hitting a few of the cons. It's not an easy system. It can be very frustrating. I know personally, for me, I have an off farm job, right? It doesn't matter what time I get home at night. For me, daily moves, the cattle need to be moved. Now, I've gotten home after dark a few times, and it's not fun to move cattle after dark. You can get, things can go south quick. Dr. Bartlett Dr. Ben Bartlett once said, and I'm paraphrasing this a little bit, when you're doing mob grazing or ultra high stock density grazing, it's like hanging a pitcher using a sledgehammer. You can do it, but you have to be extremely careful. Next, I think it's important for us to know some grazing terminology. I don't expect you to have these memorized, but it's just good Once you get started to know what a grazing period is, or a rest period or stocking rate, you simply put a grazing period is how long animals remain in a single paddo. A continuous system, that would be season long. Now, we can vary that in a rotational system based on our management. Again, daily moves, weekly moves, monthly moves, whatever rest period is how long a paddock can regrow before being grazed again. The stocking rate is the number of animals or animal live weight that's assigned to an entire grazing unit on a seasonal basis. Stocking density is the number of animals or animal live weight assigned to a specific pasture area at a specific point in time. Carrying capacity is the stocking right that provides a target level of performance while maintaining the integrity of the resource base. I like to call this next slide grazing report card. This is from pastures for profit. It's a Guide to Rotational Grazing. I believe that's a Wisconsin publication, but if you search that publication, you'll be able to find this. And this information comes right from the very front of the document. It just sets the stage to where we're at here in the Midwest. As far as grazing is concerned, one quarter of the Midwest ag land is in some form of pasture. Over 80% of those pastures in the Midwest suffer from a lack of management, which can create poor or uneven fertility, cause weeds, as we talked about in a couple slides previously, and also erosion problems. Most of these pastures are continuously grazed. This provides the lowest possible yield. And why is that the lowest possible yield? Because remember early on in our discussion, I talked about plants dying and not being overgrazed and eventually dying, and the weeds taking place. Those plants need to be given time to recuperate, to regenerate and replenish their nutrients. This can make pastures a poor feed source, and producers less reliable or less reluctant to rely on pastures as a feed source. Let's talk about goals. I think it's important to maybe not everybody, but the majority of folks that I talked to want to start out talking about the livestock and talking about how many paddocks and what kind of fence. The first thing I would do is back off and talk about goals. When I look at goals, I want to define context. What is your reason or purpose for grazing? There's also ecological context which describes your eco, region and what plants should I be growing there or should I not be trying to grow there? An example probably would be in our area for context would be to plant a warm season perennial pasture. This is cool season pasture area. Define that context and know that reason or your purpose for wanting to graze. Then think about how that reason or purpose for grazing should influence your management decisions. Decisions should fit within that context and your values and resources that you have available. And then of course, be tied into a financial plan. The other thing to think about is do you have goals, both short and long term goals? And think about the decision makers involved. And we'll talk about that here in a little bit and why that's important. But you need to have those short term goals, okay? They're very important. Write them down so that you can share them and remember them so that other people in your family or your management team can see them. It's not just something that's in your head, but you have it on paper. You can revisit those and recalculate those goals as needed Examples. What is it that you need to do this year? What do you need to work towards to reach your long term goals? Or what are the weak links in your grazing operation that are keeping you from reaching your goals from a long term goal discussion. Again, you want to make sure they're written down so that you can share them and remember them, and revisit them and recalculate them as needed. But they should be kept simple. These long term goals can help you track changes in productivity. One to three of those at the most. An example goal here, this would be a short term goal. Something that would take place in a year is extend grazing season by 30 days. That's what you're going to do to get this done. By done I mean extending that grazing season. A example would be to fence and fertilized fields tactic would be to build fence in July. This is what that you're going to do and when you're going to do it, build fence in July after hanging and applied fertilizer on August 1 or whatever, set the date. I mentioned decision makers early on and making sure that everybody that especially veto power, knows what those goals are. Because if you put this plan together and you have somebody like a landlord or something that has veto power, that can shoot down your final decision and you didn't include them in the beginning. You've essentially wasted a whole lot of time putting together these goals. But anyway, it's good to communicate those, and it's good to have goals. It's also good to be able to track those goals. You got soil fertility, organic matter, plant species, plant density, grazing days per year, animal performance, Sorry about that one, a little too fast. Everything on this list is something that you can track. It's something that you can actually measure. You can measure soil fertility and organic matter by using soil tests. You can determine plant species by simply counting them. You can calculate plant density by using a stick example. I think we may have information on how to use a grazing stick here later on in this talk. Through your record keeping, you can keep track of grazing days per year and know if you're increasing or decreasing those days. You can also look at animal performance. Those are all items that you can actually track and measure the progress. We think about some really core principles of grazing. These are three that you really should know, and that's the plant community, your grazing animals, and then your management knowledge is the most important grazing tool. There are infinite number of ways you can graze your livestock because everyone's goals and resources are different. However, there are some core principles that every grazer should know. As we've already mentioned earlier, grazing is very complex. It's a table you're getting. Anyway, those are all very complex relationships that you have, the plants and the needs of the grazing livestock. It's important to remember that you're never going to learn at all. It's a lifelong process and you need to keep moving along and learning and you go these principles, they can help you get started. Let's look here. Next slide would be the growth curve of an individual shot, tiller or sword. As we dive deeper into the plant community discussion, you can see the relative yield on the Y axis. The relative maturity. This is the relative yield here on this side and relative maturity here on the X axis. It's important to know and understand the three stages of plant growth. As we see Phase 12.3 here and I'll describe those. Phase one is just after grazing or mechanical harvest or it could be, could be right during the beginning of the growing season as plants are coming out of dormancy. This is early slow growth from energy reserves that are stored in the plant, and there is no photosynthetic activity taking place at this time. Phase two here starts when there is enough leaf material to begin photosynthesis. This is typically, as you can see by this curve here, a pretty fast growth time for those plants. Phase three is when those plants are going into reproductive mode. The canopy grows heavy and starts to shade out lower leaves, and most of the plant's energy is going into maintenance. The growth also starts to slow. Here we'll talk about when we want to harvest those as we. This is a slide, that last slide was actually from Dr. Kim cast our forage specialist at Michigan State University. This slide is also from Dr. Cast our forage specialist. And this is what's called the great forage compromise. As yield increases, forage quality decreases. We've added some quality lines to this. This was the yield curve that we had on the other one. But you can see as that yield goes up, the quality starts to decline. Here on this one, the cell wall, you can see that moving up and that is again the less digestibility. And as the plant moves from the different phases, 12.3 you can see that start to decline in increase there, which means quality is going down on that. Knowing the nutrient requirements of your animals is critical here. That's the animal part of those three core principles that we talked about earlier. Combining that with this information here on plant growth, this will help you determine when the most optimal time to harvest would be. If we think about animal different types or classes or stages of animal production, one example would be a mature beef cow. And late lactation. That cow would require less of a quality type forage than something, say, a finishing steer that's growing and trying to put on back fat and whatnot or finishing heffer. As a basic guideline, you would want to start the plant harvest between the end of stage two senescence, which is in a sense, dying off of the plant. Here, Michelle, who described that better later on if I beef that up, but that's in that stage three area, you want to start harvesting somewhere in this area. You want to end the plant harvest with some green leaf residual at the end of the grazing event. If you're making also don't talk to folks. I remember when Dipins first came out, they would cut really, we would talk to folks about raising the height of those so that we didn't cut so close to the ground. It's the same thing here with green leaf residual. You have to a solar panel, you have to leave some leaves there so that the plant can continue. You want it to stay in phase two area. If you knock it all the way back to phase one, your recovery time is increased by quite a bit. It's going to be stressed here in a little bit more than what I am right now. But it's important to learn how to read your past years. Michelle will talk about power of observation here in a little bit from management from the animal side. You want to look again at that feed quality animals will choose to eat the best feed first and attempt to balance their nutritional needs. The quality is way past stage three ways. Towards the end of that is pretty ripe and mature and the nutrients aren't there and you're trying to finish animals on that. You're going to have issues with the animal performance here. Feed quantity, they have to be, there has to be a good amount of forage there for them to eat. Bite size is the most important factor here, but daily feed intake is determined by grazing time. The number of times the bite size. Size of bite is extremely important. If there isn't enough forage there, they're going to, it's going to require more to get what they need, they just simply run out of the number of bites before they meet their nutritional. Needs, potential animal performance. Weak links could also be predators, could be quantity and quality of water, which we talk about delivering water when we're looking at a grazing system, and that's extremely important, could be issues or weather protection issues, and animal social issues as well. On the management side, we can look at paddock determines this determines stock density or pounds of livestock per acre and impacts how animals will graze that plant selection. Animal performance is also affected as well as plant growth. The number of paddocks determines the length of stay or the grazing time and the recovery periods. The more paddocks, the more control and the more responsibility for plant and animal performance, water and fence, these are main tools, include that they're probably extremely important plus that knowledge in order to be able to employ these management grazing systems that we talk about. Most people don't invest enough in good fence and watering systems. My next slide here talks about how grazing management affects pasture nutrient recycling and this is information from the Missouri Grazing Manual. This portion right here is one pad of a three paddic rotation system and this is one padd of a 24 pad rotation system. You can see here on the y axis, feet south from water, feet north from water. The important take home is that all of our nutrients are concentrated, or the bulk of our nutrients are concentrated around the water or shade tree. This is more of a continuous system. Now we split that up, right, 24, this is one of 24. You can see the nutrients are more widely distributed in these smaller panics. And again, we move these paddocks all over this side of the slide here. It just talks about how many years it takes to get one main pile per square yard of pasture land. This is the frequency of rotation here in this column, and this is a years to get that you can see in a continuous system, it would take approximately 27 years to get every square yard covered with a pile of men. You can see how the fertility is really heavy around here and not so much here, you know, they're going to be out here grazing and they're going to come back here to take a drink of water and they're going to deposit their nutrients here, right? So they're pulling them from this area. We concentrating on areas that, but over time we're not going to do any give. This is just simply utilization rate guidelines. The easiest way to understand utilization is forage consume divided by forage offered. You can see here with the number of pastures and the continuous system, the season long utilization rate percentage average is right around 32.5 And if we move up here to daily moves 25 to 35 different pastures. And you can see that moving every day, the efficiency or the utilization rate percentage goes up to 65, 45, 60. Now, I'm using temporary fence and poly wire here, but it's nothing to I mean, it's work, don't get me wrong. I do work with farms that have 60 or more paddocks in the state, and you can see the efficiency goes up quite a bit. We talked about number of paddocks and rest here in this side. I'm just giving you some basic guidelines. You want to graze no longer than four days. After four days, three or four days, grass forage starts to regrow and you have the potential for the animals to come back and bite a piece of grass that's already been grazed and not had proper time to recover. And over time, that's how you get the decline in the desirable species shot. For those eight to 12 paddocks. Grass grows faster in the spring, right? In the spring, you need a shorter rest period. It slows down as the summer progresses. You're going to, you're going to need to be flexible and change those rest periods. That's why I never like to give. Okay? You need to move every 30 days because that needs to be flexible. You need to be able to adjust based on on things that happen as you go through the grazing season. This last section here just shows number of paddocks and rest in the continuous grazing system. Essentially, you have 0% of the land resting because the livestock have access to every piece or every chunk of the pasture can have over and under happening simultaneously in these systems. As we move down and increase the number of paddocks, you can see that we also increase the percentage of the land that's in a recovery period. This is my last slide. And then Michelle will move over to you here. I'll stop my sharing, and we'll move over. But I wanted to show you quick. This is a rainfall simulator demonstration. This is myself here and Paul Gross. Paul's retired now, but we did this rainfall simulator demonstration at a field day here in Bladmin County, And it was August when? It was late August and we took this field day. Anyway, I just want to show you real quick how management can affect water infiltration, which has a cascading effect. This is a continuously grazed pasture. This is a tilled field, Paradise. Paradise Park. This sample here is what? Stubble that was harvested. And this is an intensively and managed pasture that's been grazed once this year. And this is the second regrow. What we're going to do is we're going to put about an inch and a half water on that. I'm going to speed this up here just because I don't want to take the whole time to take it away from the shells time. So as you can see, this is the adaptively grazed paddock. If you look at the front set of jars, this would be runoff. The back set would be what infiltrated and ran through. And you can see the impervious surface. The paved parking lot here, example, everything ran off. This gives you a good idea how much water we put on. It's probably two thirds, three fours of the jar. There's nothing in the back jar. There's zero infiltration in a parking lot system. If you look at this one, a tilled field boy, if you looked at it and I remember this day and compare the level of those two, pretty much everything that went on here ran off. If you look at this one with some cover, you can see that you had quite a bit. It's pretty close, you had some runoff and you had some infiltration. As you move over here to wheat stubble and a cover crop, you can see that the majority, the water infiltrated and land through here, which is what we wanted to do. Now, the difference if you took this plus this, the difference would be from two thirds, three quarters would be whatever stayed in the soil profile and you can see the adaptively grazed pasture here. There's not much, if anything, in that runoff area, most of it infiltrated and then there's also quite a bit left in the soil that absorbed show. I'm going to stop sharing my screen. I'm going to go ahead and read the question that we have here. This question is, assuming you practice rotational grazing during the growing season, can you allow continuous grazing in the winter as long as you get animals back into the rotation at the start of the growing season. This assumes getting the animals into a sacrifice paddock in late winter, feeding hay to allow the grass to start growing again in the spring. I think the answer to that would be yes, you can do that. You can still, and I understand the need for that because a lot of times in the winter your watering sources change because of freezing here in Michigan. I know you can't run the that's that's what stops me from doing the rotation with the back fence, is the water freezing up. And I'm no longer do that. I do strip grazing and allow the animals to walk back to water. Now, that doesn't mean I open up the entire farm or all of my pastures to grazing, I wouldn't do that. There's also bale grazing, winter bale grazing, and you can essentially do the same thing, provide strips of bales for animals to graze without a back fence. Again, they don't have access to the entire farm or all of your pastures, but they do have no back fence because they have to get back to that water. The only thing I would add to what Kable said is it makes a big difference if you're frozen ground or not frozen ground when you're letting those animals have access to more pastures. When you're assessing your pastures, the first thing I'm going to say is observation. Observation, Observation, You need to be out there. You need to be checking on the animals and observing them. But you also need to be observing the pastures and what's going on and then in them. What things can we track? First of all, we're going to start with the soil test that we start with. Any crop field with any pasture, with any hayfield, just those basics. We'll talk more about that. Grazing height and plant density, What's going on in the pasture? Take a shovel with you. Then we'll talk about what we should see and should not see. How is the water infiltration. Water is so important in our pastures. The more we can keep and keep it in the right place, the better temperature. We don't always think about temperature used to be, you hear a lot about temperature for crop farmers when they're planting early and the soils not warm enough. The soil is not warm enough, but there's some real benefits to managing your temperature in your pastures too. Finally, what's going on with the animals manure? Thinking about soil testing for your pastures, you need a soil probe or a spade. Ideally, you'll use one sample per about 20 acres. Each sample should include ten to 20 cores, taken in a zigzag pattern across the F sample, four to 6 " deep. You don't want to go deeper than that, especially if you're using commercial fertilizers. Those fertilizers aren't going to be down that deep. That's where the plant roots avoid, areas where stock congregate. Here's the zigzag pattern, avoiding some eroded spot in a low spot. You might sample those separately just to see how you can fix those spots. Organic matter is going to be very important to track. Your basic soil test determines ph, lime, nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium needs, especially if you're going to renovate, you need to plan your lime application six months before, even if you're not going to renovate a field, that lime is going to take about six months to get into your field and be useful for the plants. I recommend that you don't forget that you've got manure and urine if you're grazing for fertilizer source. Urine especially, is lost in stored manure or potassium in your urine can be lost. You can't count as much on it. Managing your animals in a feed lot and then putting that manure out like Kable said, consider managing your grazing better, to distribute that manure and reduce animals from congregating in the same area all the time. Talk briefly about grazing height and plant density. If you look at the picture here on the right, 80% of the plant material is removed. You may have up to 12 days of growth for that plant. If only ten to 40% of the plant leaf is removed, the root growth doesn't stop and the plant is going to grow faster and much healthier. This is repeating a little bit about what Kable said, but it can't be said too much. Don't remove your solar panel. Keep as much green leaf as possible. 43 to four, maybe even five days, and then they need to move on to the next pasture. I would err on the side of leasing too much forage, trampoline can feed soil biology is not wasted. We see a lot out there and we think, oh, we need to take it all, but that's not necessarily true. That gives us that much more the next grazing time when we have to shcvery period. Generally, I don't recommend anything less than 30 days longer is even better. Sometimes your plants are going to weaken and they're going to eventually die. I have a video here, We're going to talk about the grazing stick. Grazing stick helps you figure out how much plant density is out there and your plant height. And we're going to start this video in the middle and not show the whole video. This is available online if you want to see the whole video sometime. Pasture stick can be a useful tool for grazers with less experience. Paul will give a brief explanation of how these sticks work. Here's what's called a pasture stick was developed after many hours of research and data collection. What we have here is a grid on this side of the stick. There's a grid with dots on it. As we're estimating the dry matter availability, we need to know. The density of the stand is we take the stick, place it on the ground, and slide it in horizontally. And then we look down at it to see how many dots we can count. I can't even see the stick. We counted zero dots. Then what we do is we go to the other side of the stick. There's a spot here that says number of dots counted three or more, 12 or zero to one. That allows us to determine the density at three or more. If I counted three or more dots, we got less than 75% cover. I counted zero dots, so we got greater than 90% cover. That shows us which gauge to use. If you counted three or more dots, you're at like 200 pounds of dry matter per inch of height. Zero dot count, We're at 300, 350 pounds of dry matter per inch of height. Then we can take the stick. It's also got a ruler on one side. We place it on the ground. And then we read the height to the grass, basically down to the number that you can see, that's 10 " there. We would take several measurements and if we come up with an average height, and we'll just say 10 " for a bird's foot. Trefoil grass mix at 250 pounds of dry matter per inch. That's 2,500 pounds of dry matter available. I think I said about 2000 pounds is what I estimated. Then you can go and you can take the weight of your cattle in the number of your head and with the eat half leave half, determine how many acres you should give them for that day. Eric, talk about the shovel test is recommended that you use a steel shovel. Things. You're going to look at soil structure aggregation. Healthy soil should look like chocolate cake that's well baked. Or maybe cottage cheese with lots of small and bigger chunks of soil. You don't want it to be platy or one big chunk because that might indicate some compaction problems. Are there some indicators of biological activity? Do you see earthworms? Do you see other insects? Some of the smaller ones we can't see, but those aggregates will tell us that there's biological activity in our soil. Are there any signs of compaction when you put the shovel in? Does it stop at a certain layer, maybe at the surface layer or farther down? Root growth. Do your roots grow straight down? They make a J or growing horizontally. How does your soil smell? Does it have a nice earthly smell or does it not have a smell? No smell means there's no biological activity. What color? Obviously, this changes with soil type, but the more darker layers that we have, the more organic matter that can be very good for our pastures. We tend to think of these livestock, cattle, sheep, goats, but we also need to not forget the livestock below the ground. A teaspoon of healthy soil. It's going to contain more microbes than there are people on Earth. This is just a picture of a lot of different types of microbes that we can find. This is a new and exciting area. We don't know near as much about this as we should, but we do know that this biology can really help our plants and therefore our livestock. Talk briefly about the infiltration test. When we're looking at healthy soil, we have this good structure that you see on this side of the picture. The water is going to filtrate into the soil pores and it's going to slow that water, we don't get erosion. It's a darker color. Hi, organic matter, you're going to have some dead matter or covering the top. When we have a degraded soil, it's going to be weaker looking. Water is going to run off quickly, maybe not even infiltrate at all and might be crusted. The infiltration test is going to give us an idea of how that water is infiltrating. We need a six inch ring, a rubber mallet, and a board plastic wrap, and a timer. Then you need 1 " layer of water, which is just under a 16.9 ounce water bottle, about two cups. You're going to clear the surface and trim any plants. Obviously, it's going to be a lot harder, hopefully in your pastures than it is this cornfield. Use your rubber mallet and drive that ring in about half way, about 3 ", making it as level as possible. Use your finger to firm the soil around the edge, line the ring with a sheet of plastic, and fill the bottom with two cups of water. And pour into the plastic. And then pour the plastic out so there's no splashing. Then you red the number of minutes it takes for the water and filtrate. This sets a baseline for you to check in the future. Confirm the results by repeating it in the same spot. Stop. Stop the timer when the water is gone and the surface has a glistening sheen. Just in general, ideas on your results. 2 minutes or less is really good. Soil health less than 10 minutes is fairly good. If it's more than 30 minutes, you've got some problems. How can we improve filtration rates? We can avoid disturbance in equipment operation, especially when fields are wet. Reduced number of trips on the field. With equipment we need to leave in our pastures a high percentage of plant cover, lots of root biomass. Increasing plant diversity can help, as well as improving organic matter and manage our grazing for soil structure in those rotational ways. Like Kable talked about earlier, we can graze on the contour versus up and down the hills helps. This particular soil was on my farm last summer. You can see it's been really dry. Obviously, We've got a little bit of compaction there. There's not a lot of real pretty though, some of that's from the shovel. But it started raining. And it hadn't been raining for I think three weeks. The soil just start soaking right into that ground. That was really good to see. Temperature can be really important. We want our stakes at a certain degree and we don't want our soil to be up that high, leaving some residue plant it's on. The soil is going to protect it, keep it cool. Just some general things about temperature. At 113 degrees, 100% of your soil moisture is lost by vapotranspiration. Those plants are trying to cool themselves and they just lose all the moisture. Obviously, that affects their ability to grow. You like your steaks? I like mine about 140. Maybe 145 at the most. I don't want my soil that hot. Consider hot asphalt in the summer, we don't want our soil that hot because it's going to kill the bacteria. Temperature is going to be the biggest loss of soil moisture. This can cause a drought, like even in moist years. If we can't get that moisture into the soil and have those plants using them, it's going to create drought conditions. That's a lot of summer slump that we see in our continuously grazed pastures are because of this. When you're checking temperature, you can use infrared or a thermal thermometer. You want to do it during the growing season, ideally between 01:00 and 02:00 P.M. because this is when it's going to be hottest, You'd like to go as far as 4 " below the soil surface, under bare soil. But do the surface temperature two and make sure that you're consistent. Same area of the field each time. What's the soil type? What's the weather? How can we improve temperature? It's going to be moderated by more cover on the field. It's going to impact that soil biology nitrification when we're, the soil biology is pulling nitrogen from the air and turning it into the form that our plants can use. It's going to affect our moisture content because like I said, those plants are going to release s, um, aeration and availability of other plant nutrients. Besides nitrogen and animal health, even in times when we don't have shade, our cows can be cool when they lay down on that cool thick mat of grass and cool themselves through evap of transformation manure. What do we need to record? Looking at our manure, are there signs of manure being degraded? If it's not being degraded in 60 to 90 days, your biology is probably not doing its job. You want to see some holes in it, like by dung beetles. If you kick it up, are there earthworms in there? There should be other beetles as well. How is that manure distributed? Are the animals standing on one side of the pasture and distributing it there, does the manure look healthy for the class of animals if we're out there right after they are there? So in summary, you need to understand the plants, animals in your management, know your grazing terminology. There's a lot out there. Kable and I actually just published an article that talked about different grazing terminology that we try to use to be consistent, what grazing strategy you are using, how is this going to affect your animals health and your pasture health, the ways you can access your pastures? Make sure you soil test every three to four years. Be watching your grazing height and plant densities. Take your shovel with you. Check water filtration temperature, and what does the manure look like. Here are some ways you can connect with us. You can join the Great Lakes newsletter, Sign up to receive extension news alerts. You can do those by specific species or like there's a forage one as well. For the crop side, we're planning to begin our grazing school in April of 2024. It's going to be all online this year. I hope to see some of you there. We will also be doing pasture walks. Our next one is March 20, I believe, or it's in the '20s. Kable. I'll let him jump on here. Let's look at our questions. All right. Michael had another question regarding his original question and attended another webinar Recently, the rancher thought that it was important not to allow the animals to eat down the forage in the winter. He said that much of the plants energy was in the first few inches of the plant. He thought that rotational grazers should protect the grass plants as much as possible so they get a good start in the spring. My issue with his suggestion is I would have to feed a ton more hay in the winter. This rancher had a few thousand acres, from what I understand. So I don't think he was feeding his animals much hay in the winter. My initial thought is there's a lot of context there that I'm not sure about. That makes it really hard to answer that question. It does make it really had to answer that question. Here's my response to Michigan versus wherever you were seeing that at. I was at a meeting one time in Michigan where at the Lake City Research Center where Dr. Garish, that wrote Kick the hay habit book, admitted that we will have to feed hay in Michigan because of our great lakes and the amount of snow that we typically get. This is not a typical winter, it may be from now on, I don't know. But we do have to feed some hay. When it comes to ball grazing, you can either feed that in a lot and have a nutrient sink hole there and have to haul those nutrients out to the pasture, or you can put them on the land. And Bill Grace and Michelle, we do have to get moving. Okay. Well, I'm sorry, we can't answer those. Please find Kable and I online and send us an E mail, and we will answer those as best as we can. How does that sound? Good evening. Thank you.