A Pragmatic View of Clipping Pastures

Clipping is one of the top ten topics discussed at any pasture walk. It's basically the concept of using mechanical equipment to deal with out of control forage growth, get the grass back to a vegetative state, thwart weed proliferation or keep the place tidy. When it comes to the practice of clipping, bush-hogging or pruning pastures, I have waffled more than a politician. To say there’s an easy answer in wielding this tool would be an oversimplification. A tool is often characterized as a device or implement used to carry out a particular function. In the grazing realm, clipping means many things to many people, and can be a benefit or burden depending on the goal and demeanor of the user. I’m finally coming to terms with this contradictory practice. Why would I suggest that this clipping idea be contrary? There seems to be some disagreement on “getting ahead of the grass."   If you choose iron and fuel over animal management you can be labeled as a “conventional." Reactions abound: “Mob grazing is the answer. Hay-making is the answer. Multi-species is the answer. No, horses grazing behind the cows are the answer. No, pre-clipping with a disc-bine is the answer. Yeah, my batwing mower solves the problem.” You can see approaches are tied to specific farms. In a 43 inch rainfall area, my opinion is to fill your grass management toolbox with many tools. Ian M

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One thought on “A Pragmatic View of Clipping Pastures

  1. i have two of those late 50, early 60 Case 530 Tractors, but none with a loader, so Troy’s Dad got my attention. I have pulled a 10 1/2 ft. Bush Hog cutter behind either one or the Ford 6600 with a loader we use to round out the tractor ensemble. I also have a mounted 8 foot bush hog for the trim and tight space clipping.

    I have found that clipping is only necessary in the absence of pasture management. when we leave the cattle grazing too long in one or many spots, clipping or haying becomes a necessity.

    weeds can be grazed into the ground when they are young and tender and stock pressure is sufficient.

    In years where pink eye can be worse, stalk cutting keeps the cows eyes away from potential injury. Jim Gerrish claims that pink eye can be cured through weaning and cow selection at culling time…

    good article. In natural farming and bio/ nature mimicry when are pastures clipped? Answer: only through intense grazing followed by periods of rest. If we manage for the forage species we want to see as if there is nothing else there, eventually we will be the change(s) we want to see in the pastures we love and manage!

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