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Stockpile Grazing Progress Report 3 – Grazing Through Snow

By   /  December 1, 2014  /  6 Comments

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Editors Note: Troy Bishopp is sharing his progress this winter as he custom grazes dairy heifers on
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About the author

contributor

Troy Bishopp, aka “The Grass Whisperer” is a seasoned grazier and grasslands advocate who owns, manages and linger-grazes at Bishopp Family Farm in Deansboro, NY with his understanding wife, daughters, grandchildren and parents. Their certified organic custom grazing operation raise dairy heifers, grass-finished beef and backgrounds feeder cattle on 180 acres of owned and leased pastures. Troy also mentors farmers on holistic land management for the Madison County Soil and Water Conservation District and the Upper Susquehanna Coalition as their regional grazing specialist. This award-winning free-lance writer, essayist and photographer maintains a website presence at www.thegrasswhisperer.com

6 Comments

  1. Thanks, I’m really enjoying following along with Troy! My very well-trained haybale munchers balked at their paddock once we got a good snow last week (“Moou can’t be serious?!”), so I ‘baled’ to bale grazing for a few days. At least it’s only one start of the tractor and we’ve got 40 round bales laid out, a month for our herd. It feels good to know I can keep feeding with fence moves, not relying on a machine if things go sideways. And the ‘waste’ (ha!) stays where it belongs: On Pasture. Weather is warming up later this week and we’re going to try grazing again with a larger paddock. I am learning as I go in my first winter at this. Thanks for sharing your experience; it’s helping me a lot.

    • Troy Bishopp says:

      It’s nice to hear some feedback for a change that what I’m presenting and spending time and money on is helping someone else give stuff a try. Thanks Tristan
      I would be good to share some pictures and your story with the On-pasture gals within your context and number of animals. I’d love to see the progress. GW

  2. Chip Hines says:

    Dang it Troy, why don’t you loosen up and have fun?! I like reading your articles with plain talk and no punches pulled. Looking for more. Chip

    • Troy Bishopp says:

      For a quick moment, I thought you scolding me, Chip. Then I got it. It means a lot to see mentors like you sharing in the information even though I live in a different environment. It’s going OK but the real test will be from the eyes of the 60 farmers coming on Saturday as to the body condition and soil conditions. I’m learning a lot being forced to take pictures every day and really monitoring what’s going on. The next big thing is what will this stockpiled grazing do for next year’s crop? GW

  3. “You could milk cows on this feed” – that’s been my question throughout! Every time I read about winter stockpile grazing, I think, “sure, that’s all well and good for maintaining beeves, heifers, dry cows, but surely you can’t milk cows on this.” Can tall, dormant grass in the winter compare to a prime second- or third-cutting hay/haylage, for a grass-fed dairy cow?

    • Troy Bishopp says:

      You can open up a can of worms with that question. The word “depends” has a lot to do with it. Depends on the freshening date, depends on the weather, depends on what you think tall grass is, depends on what financial goals you have and on and on.
      My take is simple, let the highest demanding animals take the best bite and follow-up with another lower demanding animal or leave a good bit of residual for the microbes and next year’s plants. It all depends on what you want to achieve.
      I get chastised for not being a real farmer who “milks cows” but if I was, I look to the forage test, manure quality and rumen fill to keep the cows producing well and if needed (probably) supplement with third cutting and/or an energy source to make the money.
      The trick in all this grazing is matching up land, animal and people needs and being flexible in your approach. I am seeing clearly now that I am overstocked and will never graze longer until I get the right balance. This will take considerable thought and pencil-pushing to plan out a forage chain and flexible stocking rate. Trouble is, it WILL snow here so I may have to give in and just feed some hay and get near the stove and read more books about extended grazing strategies.
      Trying it is the hardest thing when everyone says it won’t work. Be a deviant!! GW

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