In his effort to kick the hay habit, ranch manager Mike Kossler is now grazing cattle through much of the growing season in irrigated pastures instead of mechanically harvesting that hay.
Kossler manages Eagle Valley Ranch in east-central Idaho near Salmon, ID.
He now grazes the cattle through much of the winter on grass left standing in irrigated pastures or on "hay" left on the ground in windrows.
Kossler uses permanent fence along with lines of portable electric fence to create three- to five-acre paddocks. Typically in each of these paddocks about 300 cows are grazed for two days before being moved into the next paddock. The next paddock is set up before time to move.
In the winter, Kessler uses a cordless electric drill to poke 3-inch-deep holes in the frozen ground for the electric fence posts.
"We spend about 30 minutes a day to set up feeder lines and move cows, versus three to four hours a day feeding hay," Kossler says. "Before we started this program, we traditionally fed hay from late November to May or June. Now, we don't typically start feeding until late February or March."