Management is intensive job in pastures and cow breeding

Duane Dailey

“Management intensive” gained fame as part of what MU grazing schools teach. A big part of that grazing method is to divide large pastures into smaller grazing paddocks. Each paddock allows growers to limit feeding of cow herds.

While cows are all in one paddock, the other paddocks still grow unbothered. With longer leaves, grass grows taller faster. Green areas allow photosynthesis.

When the last paddock is reached, the first paddock should be in full growth, ready to graze.

Long leaves of grass are easier for cows to graze. They graze not by biting with their teeth, but wrapping tongues around a mouthful of grass. They use less energy walking around nipping grass.

MU research shows that management adds about one third to the efficiency. That means more cows on the farm. Or, fewer acres needed for cow herds. Either way, that adds profits.

MU economists show grazing school graduates add millions of dollars to our state economy.

“Management intensive” pays. The system does take more work and attention. A gate must be opened to allow cows to move. Cows are smart. They need not be herded to fresh grass. They move themselves, saving labor.

Movement allows farmers to check cows as they pass. Jim Gerrish, MU inventory of the system, said if you don’t look and count cows every day, you’re not managing enough.

Intensive means better management. Problems are seen before they are costly problems.

I worked with inventors, telling their story, for about 10 years before the grazing management caught on. Farmers think of many reasons not to control grazing. It means stringing hot wire fences. Waterers must be added to paddocks. It takes looking at cows and grass.

Over time, neighbors see neighbors’ success. Then they adopt. We have a long way to go.

I just came back from Palmyra’s Show-Me-Select Heifer sale. That is another use of “management intensive.”

For work involved, many reasons pop up not to take charge of cow breeding. At best, it means using artificial insemination. But, now with Timed AI that can be done one morning for the whole herd. That takes labor. But nine months later, it cuts nights getting up to check cows during calving season. Also, it cuts calf and heifer losses.

There’s a bigger boost than managed grazing. Better genetics can be used. Even the smallest herd can use semen for the best bulls in the breed. Semen doesn’t cost much, considering quality.

Herd owners end up with more heifers than they need for replacements in their own herd. Those are sold in the marketing part of SMS, the spring and fall sales.

Repeat buyers learn the value of guaranteed heifers and come back to pay big bucks. Prices astound even sale inventors. Sellers and buyers benefit.

Management pays big bucks in grass growing or cow breeding. It pays when done right. Cow breeding takes more care than grass growing.

A consignor told me last year at the sale: “You made me rich.” The beginning breeder used the MU protocols after reading my stories.

I see beginners more likely to use new ideas than those who’ve done the same thing for years.

Both systems take enrollment fees. But, when they gain hundreds of dollars returned on each AI breeding, the investment returns.

Management is a job paying good wages. Grass grows on its own, despite bad care. Bulls breed cows on their own, in their own sweet time.

Some say, “But, I have a bull that does that.” They don’t know how costly bull management is.

I spend a chunk of my life telling grass and AI stories. I plan to keep at it. It’s my lifetime achievement. There’s more to do. Extension teaches how to replace toxic tall fescue. That prevents losses form fescue foot.

Regional MU Extension agronomists and livestock specialists await new customers.

Write to Tell me how I can do this job better.