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Should We Mow/Clip Pastures? It Depends.

By   /  July 18, 2016  /  3 Comments

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We talked about clipping pastures in June. I’m still getting questions and comments by email about
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About the author

For more than 25 years, Victor Shelton, Indiana agronomist and grazing specialist with the Natural Resources Conservation Service, has provided advice about grazing’s best practices. He travels across the state conducting pasture walks, working one on one with farmers and participating in grazing talks. He also writes a newsletter called "Grazing Bites" as a way to talk about current and seasonal grazing issues and what farmers need to be prepared for.


  1. Robert Klinger says:

    I intensively graze sheep – ewes, ewes w/lambs, and lambs followed by ewes, depending on the season – up to 600 before I got this old (now 73). I do it in western Oregon. I have found that no matter how many times a field has been grazed, there comes a time in late spring, when if you stayed on till the forage was fit to move off, some of the fields ahead would be getting too rank. The weather is stll a bit risky to hay and the yield would be low. But if you move the sheep on to the next lot and leave the one they vacate for at least several days so everything ‘stands back up’ after the traffic, up to several weeks you will get considerable regrowth. But the weedy annual grasses would go to seed. So before they make viable seed I clip it ‘high’. Low enough to stimulate regrowth and get the seed heads, but high enough to not cut down too much on leaf area. I leave the clippings layed out. This forms the equivalent of a nursery lattis cover. Gives shade, reduces soil temp, and eveaporation for added regrowth. The clippings turn yellow on top. . . but do not get ‘old’/mautre and loose quality. Then before the first grazing with weaned lambs I rake as many swaths into as big a windrow as the side delivery rake will make – swaths from both sides into one big windrow of ‘swath hay’, The grass in now mostly summer dormant. Lambs graze the regrowth and eat the ‘candy’ out of the windrow. When they are done, the ewes follow to clean up.

    By doing this I preserve ‘forage surplus to the grazing need of the time’, keep weedy/less desirable plants from propagating (if it wasn’t eaten by the grazing, by deffination it is not prefered sheep feed), add to total yield/plant, and have good ewe forage – without the cost of bailing/storing/feeding – for the ewes prior to fall green up. . . And it keeps the pastures pleasing to the eye to boot.

  2. Curt Gesch says:

    I like to let some red clover go to seed to replace the gap left when the parent plants die. +

  3. Jane Schofield says:

    Always clipped the pastures when I could no longer see the lambs! Clipped much earlier this year as it was cool & rainy, pasture was lush & I was nervous about bloat. Worked beautifully- dried things out a bit, and although I thought I would probably have to do it again later on in the season, that has not proved to be true. Small farm- I graze about a dozen-16 lambs for the summer, this year I also have 10 Nigerian bucks grazing in with the lambs, and they have done a great job with the weeds. I rotate this herd between 2 pastures to avoid them grazing the plants down too far.

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