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Year-round grazing is about summer management, not winter feeding

By: Lyndsey Smith

November 19, 2020

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When livestock producers and ranchers think about year-round grazing, most think about winter feeding strategies — bale grazing, swath grazing and more.

But Steve Kenyon, custom grazer at Busby, Alta., says winter grazing is more about how you manage pastures in the growing season.

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Kenyon, who runs Greener Pastures custom grazing on over 3,500 acres, says that the focus needs to be on soil health and well-planned paddocks to extend grazing late into the fall or early winter and to begin as early as possible in the spring.

For Kenyon, extending the grazing season hinges on a resilient growing system with living soil, high in organic matter for excellent water holding capacity and an active soil microbial population.

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“We grow the soil from the plants, not the other way around,” Kenyon says, while presenting at the recent Canadian Forage and Grasslands Association virtual conference.

Greener Pastures runs on five principles, each complex enough in its own right; but collectively they all work together to achieve the goal of thriving, productive perennial pasture. These are:

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Those five concepts in action look something like this:

Kenyon says that following these principles is the foundation to extending the grazing season as long as possible. How you achieve these goals is going to look different for every farm, he says. He’s developed paddock design and species mixes based on where he farms, and this might look different depending on available land, climate, and more.

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