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In Reply to: "Browsing" as opposed to "grazing" pastures posted by Jodie on August 20, 2001 at 18:20:36:
I'm not sure where you are located but I'll give you an idea of how I maintain our pastures here in the Ozarks. I actually began to write an article on this earlier this spring but never got it finished.
Around here we have alot of rocks in the soil which means some things grow well, others won't. Whatever does grow usually has a pretty goot root system. Extremely cold winters somewhat limit vegetation as well.
Each spring since we have lived here, I burn the pastures at least once before the tentative last frost (usually April) to remove all the sage grass (or variety of it) which our goats will not eat. This burning also gets alot of the would be poisonous plants that may also be present such as Hemlock. For the most part gets the bindweed as well.
It's funny that someone mentioned bird seed because I actually use a variation on that - hen scratch. Most often our chickens won't touch the chickory or milo seeds in the hen scratch. So I throw out a few bags of this because it is relatively inexpensive and is now dual purpose.
Then as I usually get a few bags of whole corn, I also broadcast alot of that loosely into the pasture as well. Mind you I don't go around and plant it in rows but you could call it an Easter Egg Hunt for the goats because they really like corn and while it's not necessarily good for them, they get little treats from the stray kernels they happen upon - keeps them browsing.
As it usually rains alot here in the spring, I let nature take its course of planting any seeds left behind. A few weeks later after burning, there are always a great number of corn sprouts coming up and the goats are only happy to oblige.
Even after burning, alot of natural plants come back to life and flourish. The goats keep these at bay the rest of the spring, summer and fall. Luckily, there is quite a bit of grass out there as well for them. And the wild strawberries and grapes, they are in abundance here. Don't know how they got started but every year there is a ton of them. Oh, can't forget the kudzu but that is on the northside of our place and now predominantly on our neighbors side. They don't browse kudzu, they will stand in one spot and eat all day if they can. Luckily the goats have figured out how to stick their head through the cattle panels and woven wire and keep it back on the neighbors side a few feet at least.
I also throw winter wheat and KY 31 fescue seeds out from time to time. I have not really gotten into the winter planting yet but this year I intend to do so as the pastures become nearly barren except for alot of grasses that remain relatively short and dormant.
About the burning - it's not always acceptable, safe or feasible but in talking with a number of the old-timers to these parts, it puts alot of ash and minerals back into the soil. In fact, one person I know has been following this practice for well over 70 years and he took over for his father. Many people around this area claims that he has the best hay around and they drive for miles to get it.
Hope this helps some.
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