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Git Along, Little Doggies

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The mob grazing project for the Lloyd Noble Scholars in Agriculture came as a blessing for the early birds in our group, but a rude awakening to the night owls. As the sun highlighted the horizon with its blushing presence, soft mutterings from the herders followed the cattle into a knee-high pasture of native bluestem and tall fescue. The cattle, heads down, ears forward, grazed the pastures, chewing on the sweet blades, skipping the tangy weeds and grasses, as we moved them from pasture to pasture. This multicolored bovine mass removed the waving green blanket that overlaid the warm summer ground.

kristen working with cattle

The effort to maximize forage utilization and put weight on cattle efficiently goads agriculturalists day in and day out, so the mob grazing demonstration offers a way to incorporate both these areas of interest. Small, but necessary, components of the project itself are the labor and fencing. Labor - the scholars. Fencing - thin wire strands pulsing electricity to keep the grazers in check. A word of caution: one has to quickly apply common sense in order to prevent the inevitable - or as some might say - enlightening experience. The relationship that the fence and laborers share is not one of mutual trust, but that of wariness and warranted respect. The work belts we were given at the beginning of the summer have another notch in them - professional fence hoppers or crawlers - a shock in itself.

Kristen Ulmer is a 2013 Lloyd Noble Scholar in Agriculture from Broadway, Va. 

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