Winter grazing was a hot topic at the recent Burleigh County, N.D., Soil and Water Conservation District's Soil Health Workshop.
Five ranchers from the Bismarck area appeared on a panel to share their experience grazing cattle on grass, cover crops, swathed hay or baled hay from November anytime through January.
They said that winter grazing was:
• Saving them time, labor and money because they didn't have to start up a tractor feed cattle each day. Forage harvest cost are lower, too, because cows take the place of a tractor and baler and you don't have to haul all the forage home to feed it.
• Improving their soils because manure was being deposited on the field rather than in a cattle yard.
• Improving cow health. Cows seemed healthier with the additional exercise. They also seemed calm because they could eat on their own schedule, not according to a chore schedule. Todd
• McPeak pulled a portable windbreak fence or built a snow bank windbreak info fields where he kept cows.
None of the producers reported any serious problems with winter grazing.
"My biggest problem was keeping enough spare sparkplugs for my snowmobile," said Ron Hein, Wing, N.D.