Pugging Prevention For Wet Winter Grazing

Last week Troy Bishopp described how he met the challenge of grazing with wet weather and late freezing temperatures. (Of course the best prevention is some snow - which many of you are getting this week.) Here are some more suggestions from Victor Shelton for managing your grazing to prevent damage to your forage. Plus he adds some ideas for improving pastures with new seedings. Enjoy! It is 45 degrees outside today as I write this article. I normally appreciate mild winter weather, but when it rains, and temperatures remain above freezing, except for a frivolous teasing of heavy frosts, a pasture can get pretty ugly. I for one wouldn’t mind a little free concrete right now, you know, frozen ground. For many of us, 2018 was an extremely wet year. Some parts of Indiana, including where I live ended up with over 60 inches of rain. That makes me think of a Clint Eastwood quote, “If you think it’s going to rain, it will.” Strip grazing stockpiled forage is usually a delight. Of course, it is best accomplished under dry or frozen conditions. If the pasture of stockpile is heavy (at least 3,000 pounds of dry matter per acre), then it can often be grazed even under fairly wet conditions without too much long-term damage but, you will need to have a watchful eye. Under wet conditions make sure you are providing sufficient allotments daily according to your set time frame. If livestock start to run low before the next move, you will often see some pacing along the te

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3 thoughts on “Pugging Prevention For Wet Winter Grazing

  1. This is my greatest challenge as a grazier in California, in a region where the ground never freezes. I recently acquired a lease on the coast with well-drained soils, on a slight slope. With well managed rotations I think that I can maintain soil cover. As for the home place, with clay soils and an intense Mediterranean rain cycle, I’m out of ideas. Lighter, thriftier cows makes a difference, along with avoiding herding on particularly soppy days. The elk herds make their own puggy mess as theyd pass over the ground, so I spend a fair amount of time contemplating how much impact is “natural” within our context. It always cracks me up to be on a hike with a botonist and see him get excited about a little rare native annual who is making a living in a pugged up spot I had been embarrased to let him see.

  2. What about keeping the animals off the pastures entirely during muddy times and housing them in all-weather surfaced lots and feeding hay? How do the pros and cons weigh out?

  3. We too have more muddy winters in Wisconsin. When I mud up a paddock, it’s an opportunity to drill in grasses and forbs in the sward in addition to clover.

    Generally, clover no-tilled into a dense sward is the only thing competitive enough with existing grasses, but with excessive damage and mud the grass component is set way back in Spring. Introducing meadow fescue and meadow brome, or other grasses, allows it to establish and compete well.

    Still get some weeds the second season.

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