Pasture Management

Posted by paul on Jan 12, 2011 under

Ted and Ramona Thieman of Petersburg have partnered with the Nebraska Land Trust to protect and preserve 160 acres of pasture located in northwestern Boone County from future development.

The Thiemans’ pasture is subdivided into 9 irregular patches of about 5 to 25 acres in size, with a tenth section dedicated exclusively to wildlife.

Because the land had been severly over-pastured when the Thieman’s purchased it, they didn’t graze it at all for the first two years and then kept the stocking rate low.  It has taken years for the land to recover.  Currently the Thiemans still limit the rate to 25 big yearlings or 20 cow-calf pairs.  This provides roughly 7 acres for each cow-calf pair with the cattle being moved approximately every three weeks.  The frequent movement of the cattle allows the grass to recover as well as time for birds to complete a nesting cycle in given patches.

Ideally the Thiemans would like to use an extremely high short term stocking rate for only a few days on each pasture division.  Sometimes referred to as mob grazing, this technique replicates what the huge herds of buffalo (bison) did to the native prairies before the coming of white ranchers.  That, along with periodic fire, is thought to be a major reason the prairies flourished and thrived in the past.  Heavy short-term grazing would grind plant litter into the soil and promote the healthy diversity lacking in most pastures now.

The Land    Preservation    Conservation    Local Foods