General information

Winter grazing livestock


Green grass is the most correct and natural diet for cattle. In the grass there are all the nutrients necessary for proper nutrition of ruminants.

There are several systems of cattle grazing: freestyle, on a leash, driven. But the most effective in terms of increasing the volume of milk production and weight gain was round-the-clock grazing.

Advantages of pasture content of cattle

Pasture maintenance of cattle is practiced in almost all latitudes of the globe. Just somewhere this process takes place year-round, and in most regions of our country - during the 3-4 warmest months. Even for such a short period, the conversion of cattle to pasture maintenance has many advantages over the stall:

  1. Cost reduction by 25-30%. Green grass is the cheapest feed. It costs 2-3 times less than any analogue for stall content, therefore the profitability of dairy or meat production will be higher.
  2. High biological value of green grasses. Grazing on such fodder base gives high milk yield - up to 20 kilograms or more - and an intensive increase in meat mass.
  3. Productivity. Udoi becomes not only higher by 25-30%, but the product itself becomes more valuable - there is a lot of carotene in it, the milk is more fat and tasty. No wonder the best is Alpine and Dutch milk, while the product obtained from cows receiving silage, has a low taste.
  4. Improving animals. When grazing on pasture eliminates the effects of unbalanced nutrition in the stall period.
  5. Positive effect on reproduction. Higher fertility rates, the offspring comes to life more viable, and in general there are fewer complications in calving.

Which pastures are better?

Cattle grazing is best done on intensive cultivated pastures. These are highly productive forage lands - they are pre-cleared from shrubs and sown with various herbs with good nutritional value.

The basis consists of: ryegrass of four different varieties with different ripening periods and two types of clover or highly nutritive legumes. One field per season is vented up to 10 times.

Basic rules for livestock pasture

  1. Keep a herd of more than 200 goals impractical. With a large number of livestock on the pasture, part of the grass will simply be trampled down.
  2. The area of ​​green meadows per unit of livestock is 0.5 hectares for adult animals and 0.2 hectares for young animals.
  3. Fully transfer cows to herbage stands when the plants are no lower than 10-12 cm.
  4. The transition to a green food base should be gradual, in the first 10 days the animals need to be fed.
  5. You can start the pasture season a fortnight earlier if you graze livestock on winter rye or crucifers.
  6. To avoid overriding forbs, uneaten areas need to be mowed.
  7. The height of the grass should not be more than 15 cm, if it is 20-25 cm, then the animals on average will eat 35-40% less.
  8. Partial mowing and shearing grass tufts improves the nutritional base.
  9. It is very important to provide animals access to salt - 150 g per day per cow.
  10. Drinking water in abundance - up to 120 liters per animal.

Restoration of food supply

With intensive grazing, pastures are depleted. In order to restore and increase their productivity, the following methods are used:

  • sowing seeds with preliminary soil treatment,
  • sowing seeds without tillage to the depth of the planter,
  • surface sowing of seeds before the rainy period,
  • fertilizer with mineral complexes and nitrogen compounds,
  • flooding with melt waters in the spring.

Each of these methods will increase the efficiency of pasture forage base by 35-40%. But the most effective has a comprehensive improvement, that is, a combination of several methods. So you can increase the productivity of pasture by 2-3 times.

Rules for grazing livestock and poultry in settlements

In addition to large farmers, there are individual farms. And they also transfer their animals for feeding from pastures in the summer. The rules of grazing are determined by local authorities, that is, the administration of a particular locality. They determine the organization of grazing, determine the areas for pastures and cattle walking.

Accordingly, the rules vary depending on the specific locality, but practically in each body, you can find similar provisions, for example:

  • Animals must graze on fenced pastures, on a leash or under the supervision of a livestock owner or a bird.
  • Horses can be fed only in a state of walking.
  • The owner is obliged to accompany the birds to a natural or artificial reservoir.
  • Banned homeless grazing of livestock and poultry along the roads.
  • Before the beginning of the grazing season, the pet owner must contact the administration for the allocation of the site and its lease for the summer period.
  • The owner is responsible for the pollution of livestock streets and sidewalks.
  • Cattle must be labeled with the assignment of an individual number.
  • In case of cattle mortality, it is imperative to inform the administration and not to dispose of animal corpses on our own.
  • Pigs should be kept only in pens, without grazing and without access to other animals.

A complete list of rules for keeping livestock grazing must be obtained from local authorities, since in case of their violation, the owner will face an administrative penalty of a fine.

In which regions do grazing take place in late autumn and winter

Since Russia is traditionally considered to be a country where climatic conditions are rather severe, winters are freezing and snowy, winter grazing in its vast expanses seems completely impossible. And indeed, for domestic breeders a similar approach to the maintenance of the herd is not typical.

Meanwhile, Americans successfully practice year-round grazing in the fresh air, and this system works wonderfully even in the northernmost states of the country.

In particular, farmers regularly bring their animals from North Dakota to winter pastures, where the average temperature in January ranges from -8 to -16 ° C, and the recorded minimum temperature was -51.1 ° C. Quite successfully, the removal of animals to pastures in late autumn and even in winter can be carried out (and partly carried out), in particular, in such regions as:

  • Central Federal District of Russia,
  • Lower Volga,
  • Eastern Siberia,
  • Transbaikalia,
  • Transcaucasia
  • North Caucasus,
  • Middle Asia,
  • Kazakhstan.

In these territories, livestock breeders have the opportunity to use the huge natural pastures available - steppe, semi-desert and desert. It is because of the harsh climate that the plants growing here, in the process of evolution, managed to develop a very strong and powerful root system, allowing not only rapid growth during the warming period, but also high-quality grass stand with high fodder value.

wild oats

The advantages of winter grazing

Pasture livestock at any time of the year has several advantages over the driven, namely:

  • helps to reduce the cost of livestock, in particular, the cost of purchasing, delivery and storage of feed (reducing the cost allows for lower prices for meat and dairy products, which makes production more competitive),
  • allows very effectively and practically without making additional efforts to prepare pasture for future sowing. During feeding, animals with their powerful hooves trample into the ground part of the seed. As a result, natural sowing takes place, yielding a very high yield as early as next year thanks to a large amount of organic fertilizers - cow dung and urine, and the farmer does not bear any costs for the purchase and application of such fertilizers,
  • herd viability increases: the possibility of active movement and free choice of food is the best way to prevent lameness - one of the most common pathologies in cattle kept in stalls. In addition, staying in the fresh air strengthens the immunity of animals, trains their muscular, respiratory and cardiac systems,
  • ecological indicators of meat and dairy products are improving: compulsory free grazing on pasture in developed countries is considered to be the main requirement that determines the standard of organic animal husbandry.

Farmers say that it is very easy to accustom the herd to winter grazing. You just need not leave them in the stall after the first snow falls, and instead send it to pasture as if nothing had happened. Smart animals immediately realize that the grass has not disappeared, but is under the snow, and begin to readily remove it. On the contrary, receiving ready-made feed from a caring farmer, the beast, according to all the laws of psychology, understands that someone else should work for it (self-production of animal feed is work) and will require food, showing how hungry it is with its whole look.

What you need to feed

Despite the fact that a certain amount of deadwood during the cold season of the year, animals can find under the snow, this is not enough for a full-fledged diet that provides normal growth and good productivity.

It is for this reason that the technology of free grazing in winter and summer is significantly different from each other. In particular, when sending a herd to a snowy pasture, the farmer must first ensure there is an additional feed in the form of rolls with feed. These swaths are enclosed in the form of a pen, and only after that the cattle start there.

As a supplement, coarse feed (hay, straw, haylage) is used, as well as special mixtures of wild and cultivated plants with high stems, for example, primarily corn and oats. In addition, in the diet of animals must be present mineral component (premixes and other nutritional supplements).

The correct supplementation of animals on free grazing in winter has its own secrets:

  1. Numerous swaths intended to feed the flocks throughout the winter are located on the pasture, but animals are only started on separate fenced areas, and, besides the first fence ring, you need to make a second ring, otherwise curious animals will destroy all the stockpiled reserves in the first days, to look for grass under the snow. As the food is fed from the rolls, the fence is transferred to the adjacent site.
  2. Rolls with the most high-quality and valuable grass are intended for little girls of the last trimester of pregnancy and the first days of lactation.
  3. As long as there is sufficient dry grass in the pasture, cattle are grazed in areas where there are no rolls with additional feed. They are allowed to feed additional animals only at the moment when it becomes clear that they no longer need pasture feed.
  4. The use of winter pasture occurs on the principle from distant plots to neighbors, located near the place of storage of reserve stocks of feed. Such a sequence is the most rational.

It should be noted that dry grasses in the rollers, under the influence of cold air and natural ventilation, retain their freshness much better and longer than it does when storing food in a closed room. Even under a layer of snow, hay can remain fragrant, as if being preserved, thanks to which animals enjoy such food with special pleasure (and in the cold, as you know, appetite is excellent, so the system of winter grazing allows not only to improve the health of animals, but also increase their fatness and weight gain).

In the snowy winter, there is no need to specially feed livestock on the pasture: when searching for grass under the snow, raking it up with the muzzle or reaching the contents of the snow-covered rolls, the animals eat the food mixed with the snow, providing themselves with food and water.

However, if there is no snow in the pasture, there must be drinking water there. As a general rule, animals need to be fed after each feeding.

Protection of cattle from cold winds and snowstorms

When sending cattle for winter grazing, one should not forget that the cold resistance of farm animals of different breeds has its limits. It is recommended to protect livestock from more severe frosts, driving them to special feeding grounds. In addition to low temperatures, strong winds, blizzards and snowstorms are also dangerous for animals. In order not to destroy the herd in such extreme conditions, pens are being settled near the pasture - canopies, fences with well-warmed walls or half-open rooms with an area of ​​at least 0.5 square meters. m per head of small cattle and 3 square meters. m for each head of a large (half the normal area of ​​the usual cattle barn).

In order to avoid hypothermia, the floor in such structures is thickly covered with straw or other litter material. In a similar shelter, the herd is kept until the weather normalizes.

Free grazing throughout the cold season is still perceived by some people as a dense Middle Ages, and yet, in fact, this approach is used by the most advanced livestock farms in the West. It has a deep scientific rationale, proven economic efficiency and meets high standards of organic agriculture.