The Efficiency of Grazing Cattle
Working on time management skills? You might just learn a thing or two from a cow. In the 1940's Cornell University studied cattle to see how they spent their time each day. Andre' Voisin's book, Grass Productivity has the detailed study on the efficiency of grazing cattle.
The university studied cow-calf pairs on pasture. Observers learned that cattle graze for a little less than eight hours per day. No over-time for bovine. They never exceed eight hours of grazing time.
Spend time Wisely
The cattle spent about seven hour per day ruminating (chewing their cud). The time differed slightly depending on the fiber content of the forage. Some ruminating is done lying down and part standing up.
Cattle lie down for slightly less than twelve hours per day. Cows divided these 12 hours into nine rest periods of varying length.
The cattle in the study didn't deviate in their daily routine. When they replicated the study in other countries the cattle showed the same results. In areas with hotter daytime temperatures the cattle spent no more than eight hours grazing, but they did it at night. The slight variances by breed or heredity weren't much different, they didn't change the study's results.
Quality is Everything
Here's where the efficiency of grazing cattle matters.; If cattle spend eight hours grazing each day quality is everything. If they're grazing poor pastures without nutrient dense forage they're basically spending eight hours eating junk food. Eight hours of quality forage, either pasture or hay, boost the cattle’s health. Feeding quality produces quality results.And how they're grazing matters, too. MIG grazing improves soil quality and prevents erosion.
If you're spending eight hours at something be sure to get the greatest return from those hours. Junk in - junk out. Quality counts. With organic production It's about quality not quantity.
The deep snow pack prevents the electric fence from delivering a shock, so it's turned off during the winter. A five-strand, high tensile wire fence contains the cattle, two of the wires are usually electrified. There's plenty of hay for them to eat, but at the first sight of exposed grass in the yard the temptation is so great that the adolescent steers sneak through the fence. Once they're through they run, jump, and act wild. In the few days since the snow has receded the steers have broken one young oak tree, a small apple tree that was planted last spring, trampled some lilacs, and rubbed on a cherry tree until it cracked. They like to scratch on young trees. The grass in the yard isn't any different than the grass in the field, but the freedom of sneaking through makes it taste more delicious.
The bottom strand, which is one of the hot wires, is clear of snow so the grounding rods are making good contact. The charger is twelve joules, which is strong. Only three of the steers come into the yard, the three oldest. They're excerpting their independence from the herd. Heifers don't test the fence, they're content. Today I got my electric revenge. I plugged in the fence charger and waited for the rogue steers. It wasn't a long wait. The first one hit the fence with his nose, jumped into the air, kicked up his back legs, and ran down the hillside. The second steer leaned through the high tensile, got zapped by both hot strands at once, let out a burst of protest and ran back to the herd. The third one stretched his head through the fence, felt the shock and rushed forward, breaking a few connectors. He ran through the yard where the dogs met him and chased him back through the gate. He tried again, this time he felt the full force. The shock made a loud, crackling, 'POP' as he touched the wires. One good zap is enough to re-train them for the season. Revenge is sweet, just ask Cookie.