Mature cow weight + hoof action + dormant pasture plants + soft, wet soil = nothing good, if the goal is to keep the pasture sod in good condition. In fact, depending upon how soft the soil is and how much hoof action there was as determined by the number of hooves and the amount of time they were in an allotted area, the result could be mud and the destruction of the sod base. In less intense areas the result might be some chewed up or pugged up soils with enough sod base left to insure that this will once again be a productive pasture paddock when the growing season returns.
In either case, the pasture manager should be making plans now on what is needed to improve, renovate or re-establish various pasture paddocks. I think of this as three separate management approaches. Pasture improvement generally involves the least amount of change. Typically we are talking about adding a legume component to a predominantly grass pasture. Pasture renovation is considered where the pasture manager is not satisfied with the mix of grass and legume plants and/or where the goal is to bring some new genetics into the pasture mix or possibly to repair some areas that have been trampled up during the winter period. It requires more planning and work. Pasture re-establishment is generally necessary in those areas that have been severely trampled over the winter period and where the sod base has been destroyed. It requires the most planning, time and dollars to accomplish. Let's take a little closer look at each of these pasture management methods.
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