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Flowers bloom, cattle thrive in rotational grazing system

DOLLAR SIGNS: When Lance Vilhauer, seen here checking some of his Sim-Angus cow-calf pairs, first made his plans for a rotational grazing system, he admits plant health wasn’t his top priority.
SLIDESHOW: Weaning weight, livestock health and grass quality have all improved with a rotational system.

By Janelle Atyeo

Lance Vilhauer jokes that he’ll take up floristry if his cattle business doesn’t work. This year, his pastures were bursting with wildflowers that colored the green slopes with pops of pink, yellow, purple and white.

Vilhauer, Aberdeen, S.D., is surprised by the number of different grasses and wildflowers that have shown up since he converted from a season-long grazing system to a twice-over rotational grazing system. He rotates his cow-calf pairs between four pastures and lets the land rest and regenerate between grazing. The presence of wildflowers is a sign of much improved soil and rangeland health.

The new grazing system made a difference in his cattle, too, Vilhauser says. Cows are milking better, calves are healthier and weaning weights have never been higher.

Click through the slideshow for more about Vilhauer’s grazing system.

Atyeo is a writer for the South Dakota Natural Resources Conservation Service.

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