Cows really relished any area with heavy fescue coverage like this pond dam. The extra protein from green forage helped cut the purchased-protein costs.
All-natural 38% protein cubes served as the cheapest and primary protein souce for the custom-grazed cows through the winter.
Under the wire
Feeding protein cubes under the electric fence offers great livestock control and plenty of "bunk space," since the animals can be spread out and kept in a line by density with which you pour out the supplement.
There was plenty of dry forage in November standing for the cattle to use. There was no damage from trampling, urine or dung outside the electric fence, and that kept it standing through a very rainy winter.
Grazing in snow
The first and only significant snow of the winter fell November 12. Cattle weren't bothered and kept right on grazing the ample standing forage.
Dung was stacking up more than one would call ideal through the winter, but the owner wanted to cut protein bills and rough the cattle through because rebreeding on former summer-fall calvers wouldn't be done until well into summer.
The author's creek crossing was often flooded, a testament to severity of the rainy winter. The native forage, however, held up well through it all.
In early January, the author moved cattle to north perimeter fence with neighbor and began grazing a firebreak along the entire fence. Peace of mind and good grazing rolled into one package.
All water points on the farm are temporary and are built with polywire and step-in fence posts. As a bonus, keeping electric fence over a water point is always a great idea because it constantly retrains the cattle to electricity and it keeps them polite around the water source.
In late winter, author and cattle owner began to experiment with non-protein nitrogen as either a sole nitrogen source or a supplement to the all-natural protein cubes. NPN feeds normally use feed-grade urea or a similar product called biuret.
In early February author brought in purchased, pregnant heifers to transition from custom grazing to owned cattle. There was still plenty of forage, and this was an opportunity to provide from purchased hay.
Newly arrived heifers were fed under electric fence in pens along existing fence until fully trained and respectful of electricity. Afterward they were moved onto pasture.
Electric fence over the water tanks in corrals and pens is another important training aid for new cattle. It also helps protect the water valves and plumbing.
Even with heifers brought into the corral twice for only three to four days each time, the wet winter turned the corral into a mud pit. Not so with pastures, which mostly had only ATV traffic and cattle constantly moving to fresh ground.
Once adapted to daily moves on pasture, the new heifers calmed down quickly and some even began to take treats from the author's wife.
Grazed and ungrazed
This view shows the forage grazed and trampled in the foreground, along with some puddling from fresh rainfall, with the custom cows moved into fresh standing forage farther up the hill. The date was March 18.
There was still plenty of standing forage, a beautiful mix of old and new, as author moved the heifers into it the first week of May.