Hooves not Harrows – Harnessing Cow Power to Rejuvenate Forages

As forage stands age, plant species composition shifts and production declines over time. There are many different methods of rejuvenating or renovating forage stands and strategies vary in intensity, effectiveness, and cost. Breaking old stands and re-seeding forages, while effective, is among the most expensive rejuvenation methods. More producers are opting to improve their older tame pastures and re-seed legumes using a key resource they already have on hand – their cattle herd.


Nerbas Brothers Angus use rotational and stockpiled grazing on their Manitoba farm. Photo courtesy of Twitter.com/NerbasBrosAngus

Arron Nerbas with Nerbas Brothers Angus explains how they take a “hooves not harrows” approach to improving older pastures. “We just try and use grazing as much as possible to take the mechanical component out of it,” explains Nerbas, who operates on his family’s multigenerational farm near Russell, Manitoba.

On Nerbas’ purebred and commercial Angus cow-calf operation, they have no cover crops or annual species and rely solely on perennial forages. Their goal is to try and graze as long as they can each season, and minimize the number of months they have cattle on winter feed, which is typically provided through bale grazing. Continue reading