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Serving: NE
Cattle grazing in field Tyler Harris
BASIC INFRASTRUCTURE: Basic grazing infrastructure for livestock includes fencing, water and a method of controlling grazing activity.

What to know about fencing, water for cattle this winter

The right systems can improve producers' abilities to manage cattle and forage for controlled grazing.

The goal of any grazing operation is to introduce the cow or calf to forage in adequate quality and quantity for their needs. A majority of cattle operations in Nebraska use pasture or native range for grazing during the growing season, and crop residues or harvested purchased feed for the remainder of the year.

Alternatives may include grazing cover crops in the production of traditional commodity crops, irrigation of grazed forages, and introduction of grasses into the existing crop rotation and crop residues.

Basic grazing infrastructure for livestock includes fencing, water and a method of controlling grazing activity. Developments in fencing and water systems have greatly improved capabilities to manage cattle and forage for controlled grazing.

New technologies in electric fencing have made it easier to build and maintain fences. Most important, modern fencing has become more reliable.

Temporary fences in Nebraska are used extensively in grazing crop residues in the fall and winter. When renting cornstalks, some factors to consider are:

  • length of time for grazing
  • stocking rate
  • fences
  • water availability
  • amount of corn left in field

Questions to ask yourself before you make a decision to rent a piece of land to graze may include:

  • Is there an adequate and safe supply of water?
  • Will the forage meet the nutritional needs of the animals?
  • Does the water contain nitrates, bacteria, organic materials, and odor or color that may cause animals to drink less than they should?
  • Are there any environmental hazards such as old batteries, oil cans, pesticides and ice?

While temporary fencing offers convenience and low cost, it also has many disadvantages. For example, single wire is difficult for wildlife to see, and the posts are difficult to install and remove in frozen soils. Despite these limitations, temporary fence can be an asset as part of a whole grazing program.

For more information, see EC3035, Fence and Water Development for Effective Grazing.

Niemeyer is a Nebraska Extension educator.

Source: UNL BeefWatch, which is solely responsible for the information provided and is wholly owned by the source. Informa Business Media and all its subsidiaries are not responsible for any of the content contained in this information asset.
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