We say it often, but here at Cylon Rolling Acres, regenerative agriculture practices are at the heart of everything we do and we always have the environment and soil health at top of mind. During the warmer months we rotationally graze all of our livestock in order to let different parts of the pasture rest and regenerate but what about during the winter when the pastures have gone dormant? That’s where bale grazing comes in.
What is bale grazing?
In a nutshell, bale grazing is when you allow livestock to feed off of a whole, intact bale of hay. As the bale gets eaten, “waste” is left behind (both from the bale and from the livestock) in the form of organic matter that distributes nutrients to the soil and seeds it for the next season.
How we bale graze
Each bale acts like a concentrated dose of nutrients, so we strategically place bales in areas of the pasture that need a boost, like those with multiple bare patches of soil. We use a four-sided collapsible panel style feeder to contain the bale and to avoid excessive hay waste and injuries from a collapsing bale as it gets eaten down. We keep hay off of the ground so the goats and sheep don’t accidentally eat their own manure and urine which can cause gastrointestinal issues.
Why we bale graze
Bale grazing has been a particularly exciting venture for us because we’ve visually seen the difference in our pastures!
In general, bale grazing:
Increases moisture retention from the addition of organic matter
Spreads nutrients more thoroughly around the pasture
Builds up carbon in the soil for future plant growth
Increases plant diversity
Protects the soil underneath from increased plant density
Creates fertilizer from manure and urine
Requires less equipment to feed, making it more cost effective
Here’s what our pastures looked like after a season of bale grazing: