6511 Hillside School Rd, Spring Green, WI 53588 Google Map 608-588-5854
Banner
banner

Management

Forage Management and Cattle Management

Forage Management

Grass farming in Wisconsin presents some challenges. The growing season is approximately 7 months long, during which time massive quantities of forages are produced – more than our herd can consume. Of course, the dormant season follows, and since cattle don’t hibernate like the grass, we must harvest and store forages in the form of dry hay for feeding during the winter.

Here is how it works. The farm is divided into paddocks, each defined by a permanent electric fence. When cattle are moved into a paddock, they are restricted to a relatively small portion of the paddock by the placement of a temporary electric fence which is moved often – typically once per day. This controlled movement of cattle through the paddock – called management intensive grazing  (MIG), or rotational grazing – is the primary management tool used to maximize the health of the soil, the diversity of forage crop, the production of milk in cows that are nursing calves, and, of course, the growth of the calves and yearlings.

Since the goal of any sustainable grass farm is to avoid the use of energy consuming haymaking equipment by getting the livestock to harvest as much of the forage as possible, we intentionally set aside paddocks in the late summer to grow to maturity until they are hit by frost, usually in early October. The cattle are introduced to those now dormant paddocks and they will graze those stockpiled forages through the early winter, even after the grass is buried in snow. 

Although our cattle have the wintertime option of hanging out in a loafing shed with deep fodder bed, they prefer to stay outside. Therefore, we feed our dry hay out in the pasture, usually by rolling out large round bales on the ground. This method has multiple advantages: it places seed heads where they can germinate in the Spring, it distributes the animal urine and manure where it does some good, and it keeps the animals out in the fresh air where they stay cleaner and healthier.

Cattle Management

Cattle have distinct personalities and managing them in a low stress manner requires that farmers spend a lot of time getting to know them. We have attempted to implement the practices developed by cattle luminaries such as Temple Grandin and Bud Williams to keep cattle calm and relaxed at all times. Much of the success depends on working with the natural instincts and personalities of the cattle and timing the cattle calendar with the seasons.

The calving season at Hillside Pastures is timed to begin at about the first of May so that calves can be born out in clean pastures and the cows have access to abundant and fresh Spring forages. The calves typically stay with their moms until mid-winter – late January or February – at which time they are nursing for fun and comfort, not the milk, and some of the the cows have already adopted their own approach to weaning . We wean calves in the least stressful way, by placing a simple fence between them and their moms.

New Slideshow: Midwest Devon SaleJune 10th, 2015

Click here to view the slideshow.

Upper Midwest Devon Cattle Workshop and Select SaleJanuary 12th, 2015

   

LinksJanuary 10th, 2015

Red Devon Links Red Devon USA  Devon History (Oaklahoma State Univ) Red Devon History (Wikipedia) Ruby Red Devon Cattle (Devon Cattle Breeders' Society, Devon, England) Devon Cattle Aus

Join Mail List

Welcome to Hillside Pastures

Hillside Pastures is a family-owned farm in the Driftless area of SW Wisconsin. Our Red Devon cattle graze hillsides in the Lowery Creek watershed, just south Spring Green, the Wisconsin River, and Taliesin.

 

Our goal is to continue to build a sustainable and diverse grass farm capable of producing high quality Red Devon cattle and grass-fed beef.

 

Our mission is to bring alive and encourage a meaningful farm experience that includes our family and grandchildren, that we can share with friends and neighbors, and that contributes to the greater community.