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I am a maturing wannabe with goats, chix, steers. My biggest challenge is we do everything on a smidge over 2 acres. Therefore, pasture is small. My milk goats(4) are corraled by barn and graze a little but get hay, scraps and of course grain when milked. I have 2 Jersey steers(about 7 weeks) and a Holstein(2-3 months) that are in a fenced in area about 1/2 acre or less. There are 6 kids with them which will be butchered, moved or sold by winter. The JErsey's are still getting bottles twice a day. Right now there seems to be enough grass to graze on and they get hay and a little grain as well. I have been told and read about acres required per critter and all but it just ain't happening here. Any ideas about planting some good grains in their pasture so what little they get is maximum quality? Any other ideas going into winter?

-- Paul (, July 20, 2001


Paul, are you talking about things you can do for the pasture right now, or do you mean pasture improvement for next year? If you mean right now, I don't know that there's a whole lot you can do, or even if there's a real need if you can supplement feed. Calves don't have a rumen that functions in a mature fashion until they are 5 months old (it develops gradually), so most of those animals aren't going to be able to use grass/hay the way an older animal can until winter, anyway. That's why young calves are treated more as single stomach animals until they hit 5 months or so. And that means they get high quality feeds like grain to carry them through. Not that that's all they eat--forages help the rumen develop, but they need the grain supplement NO MATTER WHAT FORAGE you have available for them. In nature they wouldn't have been weaned at 7 weeks and would be drinking milk for a very long time. As far as the pasture in general, you are talking about winter coming so I assume you are in a northern area. Northern pasture grasses quite often go dormant in the hot summer months and slow their growth quite a bit. They pick up again in the fall. You may be looking at that situation right now. If that's the case, it's a grin and bear it situation until the seasons change, and you may not need to do anything about pasture improvement at all.

-- Jennifer L. (Northern NYS) (, July 20, 2001.

Since you said the two Jerseys were steers I will assume the Holstein is also. I'll also assume you intend to raise them as freezer beef. Your one-half acre, in all likelihood, is too small for even one of them for this purpose. Once they start grazing it will soon look like a bare lot, regardless of what plants are there, and you will have to provide all of their feed - which tends to be very expensive.

-- Ken S. in WC TN (, July 21, 2001.

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