The Cattle Return to Pasture

It's that time of year when farmers are watching the grass grow.... that might sound boring, but there's a lot ot it! They are checking to see not only how long the grass is and how firm the soil, but some also check for the variety of grasses that are available and the number of new leaves on the grass before putting the cattle out to pasture... 

Some people, like these guys from Michigan State University, use grazing sticks (click to watch the short  minute instructional video) to help them determine when to put cattle out on pasture. They're looking to determine how much forage is available. 1 inch of grass/forage equals 300 pounds of total dry matter of forage on the pasture. They're looking for 6-7 inches, because they'll graze about 30 cow days (~33 pounds of forage per day) on an acre, which takes off about 1,000 pounds of forage off the pasture. They'll probably do this by stocking 30 cows on the acre and then rotating, but they could stock a lower density and leave them longer!