Saturday, July 20, 2024
HomeGrazing ManagementFencingHow Long Does It Take to Feed 400 Cows in the Winter?

How Long Does It Take to Feed 400 Cows in the Winter?

Using a well designed grazing cell & the right portable fence tools, I can generally feed the herd in about 25-30 minutes even with the ground frozen. No expensive machinery, No diesel fuel, No engines to start.

Here I am with 400-some cows looking for breakfast on a beautiful crisp winter morning in the Pahsimeroi.


Today’s feed strip was set up yesterday. Daily chores involve just taking down one temporary fence & leapfrogging it ahead for the next day’s move.


The cattle start moving into the strip as the fence is reeled up. They come in heads down and grazing. No running around the new paddock to see what’s there. They just get down to business.


After reeling up the 1000′ of polybraid, I walk ahead to where tomorrows lead fence needs to be & unroll it.


The reel can be hung on any type of hard wire fence. In this case, it is our 2-wire inner circle fence on the pivot. Always hang the reel near a post for stability. That can be a wood, fiberglass, Pasture Pro, or any other type of permanent line post.


I then walk back along the previous fenceline pulling the O’Brien step-in posts and reset them on the new fenceline. On our 300-acre pivot, the fence runs are just over 1000 ft and the entire process of taking down a fence and resetting it generally take me 25-30 minutes.

When I was a little younger, it was generally 22-23 minutes to do the job. I walk just a little slower now.


The cows say mmmmm… good!


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Jim Gerrish
Jim Gerrish
Jim Gerrish is the author of "Management-Intensive Grazing: The Grassroots of Grass Farming" and "Kick the Hay Habit: A Practical Guide to Year-around Grazing" and is a popular speaker at conferences around the world. His company, American GrazingLands Services LLC is dedicated to improving the health and sustainable productivity of grazing lands around the world through the use of Management-intensive Grazing practices. They work with small farms, large ranches, government agencies and NGO's to promote economically and environmentally sustainable grazing operations and believe healthy farms and ranches are the basis of healthy communities and healthy consumers. Visit their website to find out more about their consulting services and grazing management tools, including electric fencing, stock water systems, forage seed, and other management tools.


  1. Grazing winter feed or even swaths can work excellently with perennial grass, or even with cover crops grown on cropland. You can reduce the time even further with a pivot, especially if livestock water can be provided near the center. Set up a circular temporary power fence immediately adjacent to the last tower. Hang a power fence line from strusses from the pivot over the top of each drive tower, and simply advance the pivot 25 or 30 seconds to provide the next days forage.

    A little more initial work in installing the circular fence adjacent to the last wheel track. No need to move the back fence since cattle will focus on each new feeding area adjacent to the pivot for the next day or two (during the dormant winter season). Feeding around 3 pm will allow snow to soften with warmer day temperatures. No need to pick up or step in the posts for the moveable fence. Be careful to avoid obstructions that are higher than the power fence, and carefully fasten insulators to keep from wrapping the polywire around driveline.

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