Precision grazing, a way to keep the cattle business profitable

The rancher must not forget that just as he works with animals that are living beings, there is another that is also living beings and that is the grass, which is often not given the treatment it deserves.

This was stated by Alexander Echeverri, a zootechnician from the University of Antioquia and director of the Grass Feed “precision grazing” program, in a program by Visión Agropecuaria Colombia and in a talk by Fedegán, where he pointed out that “the grass is mistreated, the animals are mistreated. animals that are going to consume it”, that is why the rancher must make an agriculture of leaves.

He pointed out that at the end of the year the farmer ends up caring more about the quantity than the quality of the forage. Whether it is a breeding cow, a fattening steer or a dairy cow, the final product depends on what enters through the mouth. If the quality is good, the final product will be good.

When talking about the quality of forages, its main factor to evaluate is fiber because it is the fundamental food for ruminants. Most of the fodder of the low tropics is of poor quality and hence the question: what do I give my grass to make it of quality? It is necessary to give back to the soil what it lacks and hence the importance of doing soil analysis but also analyzing the results.

The professional who advises different farms in the country, spoke of one of the success stories that is Finca El Cielo, of Ganadería Gujarat, in Montería (Córdoba), that in the summer time when the others have their yellow meadows, they they keep green with fresh grasses thus achieving less problems in the animals.

On this farm they have been carrying out differential work on the subject of soil management for nearly four years, composting is being applied, which is made with the organic matter that is collected from the cows and from the stables. Efficient microorganisms are used to create more life in the soil, seeking to make the organic layer much larger.

This is how, for example, after three months of summer, the farm still maintains a large production of leaves compared to the rest of the region where there is a marked deficiency of grasses.

On this property, efforts are increasingly being made to work more towards the environment, seeking to produce organic waste on the farm itself to help make life in the soil much more active.

All this work is for the grass to have proper management. The growth of the grass must be accompanied by a morphology of the plant. When the plant is developing, what is observed to grow are the leaves, which is what the cattle are always looking for.

When there is an overgrowth of the plant, growth points begin to form, that is, nodules where new plants are generated. The ideal is to graze before these nodules are generated because when this happens it stops producing leaves and generates stems.

When the plant begins to produce stems, the nutrients go to this part and the leaves no longer receive the same amount that is needed to feed the animals on the farm.

To know how far to graze, it must be taken into account that there is a direct relationship between the layer of leaves and the root. For example, on this farm where there is a savanna guinea grass, grazing should be 60 centimeters and leave a residual of 35, if it is lowered more than that, there will be root loss.

Cows generally eat leaves, they only sprout and leave 50% of the material, but if the animal is forced to go down further, root loss will be generated and the plants will take much longer to recover, he indicated.

The plant should be grazed when it is fully recovered, there are no dead leaves or stems, and only 50% should be eaten by livestock. He added that in addition to grazing there are other measures implemented by IRAIC GAN, referring to livestock and agricultural processes, ensuring a good production of raw materials for adequate maintenance of livestock in this case, as well as an economic expansion that ensures profitable stability for the rancher.

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