Strip grazing involves creating temporary paddocks without back fences to help manage grazing of forages during the dormant season. It is an effective way of grazing stockpiled forage because it allows for selective grazing without damaging the plants. However, for the method to be effective, you need to know how to allocate the appropriate amount of forage to your livestock.
To start, you'll need two portable reels and enough temporary posts to hold up the wire. If you don't have perimeters of your paddocks powered, use a small portable energizer to power the polybraid. Determine the amount of forage per acre that is stockpiled, plus the number of pounds of grass your livestock need to eat each day. As a rule of thumb, use 3% of the cow's body weight to determine its daily needs.
To determine how much grass to allot for the grazing period, assume it's an everyday move since 85% of the grass will be utilized. With a three-day move, figure on 55-60% of the grass being utilized. For instance, if you have 100 dry cows weighing 1000# each, you'll need to give them 3000 lbs. of stockpiled grass per day. If the stockpile can produce three 1000# round bales per acre, you'll need one acre of grass to feed the cows for one day.
After determining the amount of grass to allocate, you'll need to set up the temporary fence. First, establish where the water supply will be and begin grazing from that point. Set up the first portable fence fifty feet from the end fence nearest the water. If the cows leave much grass, reduce the distance, and if they seem unhappy, increase it.
Strip grazing is a learned skill that requires you to keep your eyes open and read your cows and your grass. Your cows also need to learn the system. They become accustomed to strip grazing and learn to eat quickly. However, when first introduced to strip grazing, cows will often walk around the strip, picking at the grass and walking the boundaries.
By day two, dry cows should look good, and the dormant grass should have been grazed evenly down to 3-4." You then take your second reel and set of posts and give them the same one-acre strip as the day before. Set up the next day's section of grass before you move your cows. Waiting to set it up may cause cows to walk the portable wire fence line, following you up and down as the wire is being rolled out and the posts stepped in.
In conclusion, strip grazing is an effective way of grazing stockpiled forage during the dormant season. It allows selective grazing without damaging the plants. To allocate the appropriate amount of forage, determine the number of pounds of grass your livestock needs to eat each day and how much forage per acre is stockpiled. To set up a temporary fence, establish where the water supply will be and begin grazing from that point. Keep your eyes open, read your cows and your grass, and monitor their grazing habits until they become accustomed to the strip grazing system.