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Developing a Pasture Rotation Plan: Part 2

In "Developing a Pasture Rotation Plan: Part 1," I shared what I've learned about pasture rotation. Each method has a different focus--forage health, animal health, or soil health--but similar strategies. All limit grazing time according to the condition of the forage and allow for a period of rest. The challenge is trying to figure out how to adapt the particulars to our property.

The simplest rotation strategy is to leave stock out in the field and just move them (and their water) to the adjacent paddock. That's how it's done with beef cattle, but dairy animals must be brought back to the barn for milking. For that, the best plan would be a centrally located barn with grazing paddocks extending from it like spokes on a wheel. The other option is to use lanes or corridors.

We've just begun a specific plan to improve the soil in our pastures and the forage along with it. As that improves, we should be able to have a number of smaller paddocks, all with good grazing. Since we aren't there yet, larger but simple seemed like the best way to start.

First step toward better grazing rotation.

We subdivided our pastures with electric fencing.

Three strands, the top exactly nose height for adult Kinder goats.

Some people say goats can't be contained with electric fence, and I'm sure for some goats that's true. Especially those inclined to jump. They do have to be trained to it, and we had a couple of break-throughs initially. After a zap or two on the nose they steer clear of those wires.

As forage improves we plan to break it down to smaller paddocks. My goal is to give them about four days in each. That would allow for a minimum three-week rest for the forage, more if possible.

Proposed, but subject to change.

This plan uses corridors for the doe rotations (in blue in the diagram above). That will require gates that can be hot wired to maintain a complete electrical circuit from a centrally located solar charger. For the bucks (red lines), it made more sense to relocate their shelter to a more central position. That's another building project, but makes for a less complicated set-up for the fences. Plus, having them closer to the house also makes it easier to bring them water, feed, and hay.

None of this is written in stone, but with a plan we have something to take steps toward. If we run into obstacles or it doesn't work out as we hoped, we re-evaluate and adjust. 

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