One of our objectives here is to rebuild soil structure after years of set stocking, slurry, sprays and fertilisers has left them a bit fragile in wet conditions. This is so we can work towards an extended grazing season and outwintered stock. We hope to achieve this through rest, tall grass grazing and incorporating trees through agroforestry. Last grazing season we let two fields go through until start of July before grazing (rested). The grass went to head, it became a haven for insects, swifts and also plenty of 'weeds'. Then the cattle went through and levelled it. Despite losing the protein/energy hit from the usual lush green grass and cattle having to adjust to more fibre we are now banking the benefits with both fields already providing solid winter grazing platforms for the sheep and places to feed out haylage despite the wet February we've had. Every other field on the farm would be a quagmire within a couple of days if there was stock on in current conditions due to our heavy clay soils. So great to see how quickly plants and roots when allowed to tear on can fix our perceived heavy land issue when it comes to grazing management. The plan is to build in more rest this year for fields around the yard to build up soil structure and then target them for stockpile or sacrifice paddocks for winter grazing next year. The performance of the cattle almost certainly took a hit with the tall grass grazing in July rather than the usual leafy green sward but the land, biodiversity and farm costs are all in better heart. Sometimes perhaps we overly focus on animal performance and not enough on the bigger picture of land function and what it can do for us when given a bit of slack in the grazing season. And even if daily live weight gains went back the cattle were still in good health. Finding the right balance between land function, animal performance and animal health in different parts of the farm is something we are trying to figure out.
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That’s really interesting. We have same issue with heavy soils. I’d like to trial this in a small field this year and add soil microbial life with my vermicast compost via the FYM spreader. It only needs a tiny proportion per full spreader it’s that potent!