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rotational grazing for superior raw milk

I frequently get asked about our intense rotational grazing system so thought I’d just head out to the field and show you!

When you feed your cows like – moved regularly to fast growing, lush grass – this is reflected in the superior taste and quality of the milk.

I filmed it in my beef cow pasture, but I use the exact same process and pastures for my dairy cows, so it applies to either.

Watch the video and then share your genius in the comment section below the video. What have you learned, or what are your questions about rotational grazing?

Hundreds of like-minded raw dairy souls read this blog and learn from your shares so please join in!!

As usual, thank you for reading, sharing and commenting.

Here’s to your continued success as a raw milk producer – one of the hardest jobs I’ve ever known!!

Much Love,

Charlotte

{ 18 comments… add one }
  • Judy Grimsby September 5, 2014, 3:13 am

    I have dairy goats that I want to graze. What kind of grass should I grow?
    thanks

    • sam1980645 March 23, 2015, 3:53 pm

      we have dairy goats to we just let the grass grow and thay love it

  • Dusty September 5, 2014, 1:28 pm

    What great timing for us! We are planting our fields this fall. We are in a high alpine meadows settings, cold wet winters and dry mild to hot summers, but do have irrigation. Any suggestions on a good seed? It is A1 ag, uniquely called Gazelle loam I am thinking of a dutch clover/vernal alfalfa but am clueless as to the best grass seed. We have 5 acres for this, suggestions?

  • Ronel Visser September 6, 2014, 1:11 am

    Great video! I would like to know, do you reseed your pastures? Do you have legumes and grass or mostly grass? Also, do you mow your pastures? They look great.

    • Charlotte Smith October 17, 2014, 7:51 pm

      Thanks so much for writing!! The pastures are mostly grass, from a mix that’s made for cattle. I do mow them once per year.

  • Lynn February 25, 2015, 7:16 pm

    Charlotte, thank YOU for sharing this very informative video along with DETAILED information on land health, temporary fencing which answered any questions I would have had with a lesser quality video. Very interesting to learn the correct way to farm cows.

    BTW- your cows are VERY happy & healthy looking! They are active, energetic and alert. Contrary to most photos or videos of ‘other’ dairy farms.

    I would love to take a tour someday when I am in the Portland area. Thank you for being so animal health conscience. I live in southern Calif, so I am unable to purchase from your farm unfortunately.

    • Charlotte Smith February 25, 2015, 7:35 pm

      Hi Lynn – thanks for writing! We ship lots of meat products to SoCal if you’re interested in those 🙂 just go to our champoegcreamery.com site for more info on that.

      We do farm tours about monthly, so if you are in the Portland area do check in on one!!

      xoxo
      Charlotte

  • Melinda February 28, 2015, 3:38 am

    Thanks for all the info!

    I am wondering if I can only leave my cows on each paddock for 24 hours total, or can it be longer? I am getting 2 miniature Jerseys and have only 3.5 acres of pasture. Could I make 1 acre paddocks and leave the cows on for 2-3 weeks before switching them to a new one? Or would it be better to do 1/2 acre or even 1/4 acre paddocks and switching every few days?

    • Charlotte Smith May 21, 2015, 4:04 pm

      Hi Melinda, I practice intense rotational grazing, which is to have your animals on an appropriately sized paddock that they would eat down to 4-6 inches or so in 24 hrs. That’s best for the land, cows, etc.

      So 2-3 weeks is not intense rotational grazing – they would overgraze the parts they like, then those would be slow to grow back eventually disappearing. You’ll end up with paddocks full of less desirable greens.

      I’d suggest you google intense rotational grazing – read some articles by Allan Nation and other great graziers to learn more. I’ve seen our land improve tremendously and the yield, too. It’s a practice worth incorporating. Yes, it takes more time – if you’re selling raw milk your milk price should reflect the labor required to move them daily.

  • sam1980645 March 23, 2015, 3:50 pm

    i have 2 cows with 2/1 acers of land what do i do and thay dont eat very much

  • Julie May 25, 2015, 3:24 pm

    Hi Charlotte,

    You mention moving your water, could you show me or tell me how you achieve that.
    We grass feed our herd here in Northern Ontario Canada and I use rotational grazing practices but water is always a challenge. We have to let the animals back to the water source after each new rotation so essentially they have to walk back thru the last place(s) they had been grazing on.

    Love your Site I have just started milking our Jersey and thats how I found you. As I was scrolling I cam across this video and though cool she also raises grass fed beef!

    Curious when you first started, did you hand milk? With only the one cow for personal use I not sure if a milking machine is warranted…

    Happy Farming

    Julie

    • Charlotte Smith June 30, 2015, 6:17 pm

      Hi Julie! Thanks so much for writing 🙂

      Water – we have polypipe running the length of each 5 acre paddock with spigots every 75 feet or so. Then we run a short piece of hose to a 100 gallon trough with a float to keep the water full.

      Otherwise, we have about 1/2 mile of irrigation pipe we move by hand daily to water the grass.

      Hope this helps!

      When I started I machine milked. I just wanted the closed system for safety’s sake. But I often hear that if you only plan on one cow hand milking will be more efficient.

      Hope you are doing great this summer!!

  • Darcy February 3, 2017, 3:53 am

    Nice system you have Charlotte. Similar to what we do. We took a Holistic Management course several years ago which really taught us a lot about the importance of rest and recovery for forage stands. We’re in Canada with a shorter growing season than you, but we’ve found daily rotations work best for us as well. We let each paddock rest to a full recovery point, which we define as when the plants start to set seed again, like you’re doing. It has enabled us to increase soil organic matter and raise the pH from a very acidic 4.9 to over 6 in a few years. The cattle rarely touch mineral anymore because they are getting all they require from nutrient dense forages. It’s amazing what can be done with some good management. Cheers.

  • Christina February 27, 2017, 10:26 pm

    Hi
    Do you have a video that talks about the minerals that you feed your dairy cows?

    Thanks

    • Charlotte March 1, 2017, 9:38 pm

      Hi Christina – I do not have a video just on minerals. I use Fertrell’s dairy mix + I have to use a high magnesium mix from our local farm store Feb. – May due to the low magnesium content of our fast growing spring grass.

      So I just use those 2 supplements and they are great, cows are super healthy and reproduce easily.

  • Jamie January 30, 2018, 9:04 pm

    We are planning on getting one mini Jersey next year, and I wonder how large we should make our paddocks. I’d like to rotate daily, and allow each paddock about a month of recovery time. How much pasture will a mini Jersey eat in one day? Thanks!

  • Maria September 3, 2019, 9:09 pm

    This was such a great video….I have learned so much and have gained more confidence that I can start with one small milk cow and be able to care for it and feed it properly and sustainably……thank you

    • Charlotte September 4, 2019, 5:26 am

      You’re soo welcome 🙂 Thank you for being here!!

      –Charlotte

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