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Time to slash

Posted: Tue Mar 31, 2009 11:39 am
by Danny

I have recently finished both books and trying to get my head around some stuff.

I manage a 520 acre cattle property on the sunshine coast. It is flat as a tack and definately flood plain. I have a boundry on one side of a semi tidal river. On the southern side and centre of the property the local council have a large ring tank (10m x100m x 200m) or larger and all water above the ground.

I only manage the property and started cell grazing (not strictly but moving the cattle every 5 days or so) the property in August which was a change from half summer half winter usage. Do not tell the boss but I gave up spraying thistle in October 08 in the belief that the good guys would choke out the bad guys. I have a had a great rain season so it turned out I might be right. I carry 160 cows plus calves

I have got either a natural pond or man made waterhole in each paddock. Sincing moving the cattle around I have got more feed then I know what to do with. I have large amounts of both weeds and feeds. Weeds - mainly the covering protective type like onion grass ( sorry I know no other term) and I think a good bio diversity. Reeds in the wetter parts, trees in each paddock (not a third). probably 4 or 5 types of good grasses with probably more types of weeds. This is not all of the species. Best evidence is that my cattle are fat even the cows with bigger calves on them. Despite the rainfall this is not easy to achieve on the coastal lighter country.

High rainfall over 21 inches this year already (abnormal) and it takes a long time to drain away which together with the water just sitting in the man made hole suggests to me a high water table.

As I only manage the property I do not know if I could mulch, bale and reposition in a better place. So i am thinking of just mulching the each paddock as the cattle use them. With my limited knowledge I was planning to do this at the begining of spring when it starts to warm up and and the growth kicks in. We do not get any real growth through the winter and i did not want to mulch now in case I ran out of feed over the next few winter months?

So for the long winded email but I was just try ing to give the whole picture. When should I be slashing? I am thinking that some slashing is better then none? How often? any suggestions? any more things to read on this topic?

Posted: Tue Mar 31, 2009 1:08 pm
by Beli Mawr
When should I be slashing? I am thinking that some slashing is better then none? How often? any suggestions
Hi Danny,

My two cents for what it's worth and I'll preface this by stating that I farm in a completely different area and don't know anything about the seasonal variations up north.

I try to mulch my paddocks as soon as the cattle come out (usually after no more than a week). Obviously they graze the edible plants and leave behind the bracken, thistles, blackberry etc and this is easy to mulch without cutting everything too low. If there's not too much tough weed, I'll generally run the chain harrow over instead, which knocks the thistles down and spreads the manure at the same time.

I try to get the cattle out before they graze below about 2cm and get them back in when the grass is no more than 150mm high, which is the point at which self shading retards the optimum growth rate and the nutrition falls away. Mulching weeds to 2cm tends to knock them pretty well.

Peter makes the observation that slashing is best done when the plants are green and have not yet flowered as their value as a mulch is optimal.

Lastly, I don't tend to get the mulcher out so much during winter or when it is, or has been particularly wet. Belting the tractor around wet paddocks doesn't do the surface much good. Ideally, I'd be always mulching as soon as the cattle are out, weeds are still lush and haven't flowered, then it rains an inch the day after I've been through. Just can't seem to line them all up that often.

Posted: Tue Mar 31, 2009 11:15 pm
by Adrian
Have a look at the videos on Youtube about Peter and his ideas of keeping the "weeds" intact for the new smaller grasses.
You may even want to think about instead of slashing the whole paddock but instead slashing in strips. eg. one or two widths of the slasher between each strip.