Pasture Management: How Brush Mowing Can Help Your Livestock


For those who raise livestock, pasture management is an essential part of keeping your animals happy and healthy.  The ideal pasture will have an adequate amount of palatable forage plants for your livestock, not attract undesirable pests, and not have too many weeds.  One technique that a lot of livestock managers use is to brush mow — or brush hog, as it’s sometimes called — their pastures.  This can be done as much as every couple weeks or as little as several times a year depending on your climate and animals.  The DR Tow-Behind Field and Brush Mower is an ideal tool for mowing pastureland because it allows you to ride comfortably on your ATV or utility tractor.  Self-propelled walk-behind models are also available, but most pastures are large enough to merit the bigger tow-behinds.

There are three ways that brush mowing your pastures can help your livestock:

1. Controlling Weeds

Mowing pastures keeps the weeds under control, which in turn encourages palatable plants, such as fescues, to grow.  By cutting down weeds when they start to mature, you prevent them from developing strong root systems.  Mowing also keeps weeds in a vegetative state.  This means that they continue to produce leaves and shoots (which may be palatable to your livestock) instead of seeds and flowers for reproduction (which are usually not palatable and will spread the weed even more).  It is especially important to keep tall weeds down if you raise cattle because tall weeds attract the flies that like to bite around cows’ eyes and can carry Moraxella bovis, or bovine pink eye.


2. Maintaining Quality Forage Plants

Besides keeping bad plants (weeds) from growing, brush mowing your pastures will maintain and encourage the growth of good plants — those that are palatable to your livestock.  Mowing gets rid of old, dead forage growth that is no longer palatable, making room for new plants to grow.  It also keeps plants in their vegetative state, producing the leaves and shoots that are the tastiest and healthiest for your animals, instead of the seeds, seed pods, and flowers that are often less palatable.  To keep plants in this vegetative state, mow your pastures to a height of 2-4 inches in the cool seasons and 6-8 inches in the warm seasons.  Cutting height adjustment is easy with the DR Field and Brush Mower, simply step on the deck to choose the height you need.  And it adjusts from 4″ to 7-1/2″, so there’s a perfect height for every season.

3. Evening Out Grazing Patterns

Most animals graze unevenly.  They’ll avoid areas with urine or other droppings and often stay where there is a concentration of palatable plants.  Some spots in your pastures, then, are ignored and will grow plant life faster and higher than those that are grazed often.  Mowing will even out the heights of the plants in your pastures, which is nicer-looking and will lead to a more efficient use of your land.

Do you mow your pastures?  How does it work?  Start a conversation in the comments section!

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