Tall Grazing Field Day Follow-Up

Posted: June 18, 2013

About 50 people attended the Tall Grazing Field Day on June 11, 2013 at Spring Creek Farm, Wernersville, held in collaboration by the Pennsylvania Association of Sustainable Agriculture and Penn State Extension-Berks County.
Figure 1.  Pasture quality at grazing event

Figure 1. Pasture quality at grazing event

The purpose of the field day was to discuss the research results from a study conducted by Penn State Extension and the USDA-ARS on five dairy farms in the Northeast.  Here is a copy of the handout used at the field day.

Farmers were hosted by Forrest and Greg Stricker, where they viewed the pasture system. Some dairy graziers are allowing grass to grow taller and flower, but still are managing the pasture for quality standards. Grass harvested by cattle would be similar to grass harvested for baleage.

Graziers are developing a “hybrid” approach to mob grazing and adapting these practices to dairy farms to maintain the quality of forage. They allow the grass to grow taller but do not allow the forage to be overmature. Figure 1 shows that in 2012, farmers were able to maintain % CP (percent crude protein), while the % NDF (percent neutral detergent fiber) and the NEL (net energy lactation) actually increased over the growing season. This may have been the result of growers having to rotate their animals sooner on paddocks toward the end of the summer due to a “mini-drought.” The study is being conducted in 2013 and a more complete report will be released at the end of the growing season, both in print and on the Northeast Pasture Consortium’s Web site. The study was funded by USDA-Sustainable Agriculture and Research Education Program.