Anyone else out there aching for green grass? Before we know it, the grazing season will be upon us, and having a solid grazing plan can help you manage your forage for optimum land and animal productivity. There are some tremendous resources available for “Grass Farmers”, but if you are new to the idea of rotational grazing, start with the on-line recording of Rotational Grazing Basics, presented by Jen Colby, VT Pasture Network coordinator and Rachel Gilker, pasture technical advisor. At this link, you will also find a nifty fact sheet on grazing basics and other resources for managing livestock.
The Vermont Pasture Network offers evening pasture walks and site visits during the grazing season which highlight the benefits of grazing plans and explore new strategies and systems for managing pasture. Joining the VPN listserve is another great way find information and tie into the network of farmers in Vermont actively managing their forage resources. Check out the VPN website for links to fencing and watering resources, including suppliers.
If you would like help creating a grazing plan, the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service-Vermont has many resources to offer, including an Excel template for creating a grazing plan. If you qualify for NRCS programs, advisors are available to make a visit to your farm to help develop and implement a managed grazing system. NRCS has offices all over the state. Follow this link to find the office closest to you– http://offices.sc.egov.usda.gov/locator/app?state=vt.
Those of you familiar with holistic management, may be interested to know that a free manual on grazing planning is now available for download from the Holistic Management International website. Holistic Management encourages planning grazing with the health of the land as the primary focus. From their perspective, animal health and productivity will flourish when the health of the land is at its optimum.
Utilizing your available forage to its greatest potential will benefit your land, animals, and your bottom line. With the resources above, you’ll be well on your way to greener pastures for all.