25th Annual Pasture Walk

Big Spring Farm

683 Blankenship rd, Adolphus KY 42101

10 am – 3 pm Central time

RSVP: Greg Brann

An interactive field discussion to assist folks in managing the water cycle, nutrient cycle, energy flow, and biological interactions.

Our Management Goals:

Managing pastures for optimum quality and quantity

Managing water with proper placement and access

Managing livestock for easy keeping and higher profitability

Managing soil moisture, carbon, and other nutrients (no commercial fertilizer in 15 years)


Discussion Topics: Led by Greg Brann


Grass, clover, and forb mixes

Application of regenerative ag.

Water points

Addressing Resource Concerns

Multi-paddock and multi-species grazing (cow-calf to finish, hair sheep to finish, goats for weed management, farrow to finish hogs, 100% grass-fed dairy, and wool sheep for fiber and meat)

Weed management: high-density grazing, goats, and clipping

Sacrifice paddock management

Fly control

Hay feeding


$40 for the event, lunch provided with on-farm meats, and Brayden will cater again this year.

July Timely Tips

July Timely Tips

Preparing your pastures for winter

In South Central Kentucky, we are getting plentiful rain, and the grass is growing wonderfully, but the weeds/forbs are growing too. The following are some things covered in this note to consider this time of year.

·       Mowing to prepare for stockpiling grass and to reset pastures for fall growth

·        Fly numbers are increasing, and internal parasites thrive in warm moist weather.  

·        Water for livestock

·        Shift focus from seeding warm-season forages to cool-season forages.

·       Timing your introduction of rams and bullies

·    Livestock selection criteria

·    Upcoming grazing events


Now through September 15th is the most important time to clip pastures. This is an important time to return forage to a vegetative state before stockpiling grass for winter. Only mow fields that need a reset; don’t mow down good grass, it may not rain, and any standing grass is better than none. Graze more mature grass first while allowing more vegetative grass to grow. Short-duration high-density grazing reduces mowing, but sometimes there are old stools of grass with brown leaves shading green leaves or plants, shading desirable grass that needs light to grow and last longer for stockpiling grass. Broadleaf plants like wingstem and ironweed shade desirable grass and can reduce grass production. Clipping pastures to a 5” height may also help reduce pink eye.


Peak fly season is now through September, be diligent in controlling flies. In addition to the measures I mentioned in the last timely tips (garlic powder in mineral, mineral oil, fly paper) mop type back rubbers filled with mineral oil works well. A mop tank is superior to sock-type back rubbers because they tend to slick over and not release the oil. Cedar oil added to the mineral oil can enhance fly control. Sometimes I cut a cedar tree for cattle to rub on.


Additional water sources can improve cattle performance. When using a surface pipeline, let some vegetation grow over the pipe to keep the water cooler. Supplemental water also can improve pasture utilization and water intake, increasing animal performance.

Drain and clean water troughs at least every three months and sniff the water for any off smells. Dirty water can harbor some diseases like leptospirosis, e. coli, and others. Livestock sometimes sniff the water, and I’ve heard they take advantage of Oxygen from the water; they should normally take about 20 gulps at the tank.  

Maintaining gravel around the tank is important. Avoid large stones mixed with small ones since this can cause hoof problems, especially when stones are carried in mud onto concrete. A lime pile between the concrete and mud can reduce this issue.

 When my garlic powder clumps up when it’s been exposed to moist air, I place those in the water trough.


The very best time to seed cool-season grass pastures is fall ( one and a half months before the first killing frost). Pasture fields to consider for reseeding will have less than a 50% of desirable grass or be warm-season grass pastures. I prefer to seed into warm-season forages at the end of September (about 15 days before a killing frost). When seeding a perennial stand of grass like tall fescue, seed only perennials since annuals grow faster, they can reduce the stand of perennials. If seeding annuals, consider a mix of small grains like triticale, barley, oats, wheat, or rye with annual ryegrass. A mix of about 150 pounds of small grain with 20 pounds of annual ryegrass gives full cool season production. If seeded early, you may get early winter grazing; if seeded later, you will likely get early spring grazing through June.


Now’s the time to step up your grazing management. This is the most important time to grow and conserve grass for winter.

Rotating pastures and maintaining good residual height will allow you to stockpile every field for winter. If you rotate off fields, maintaining 4” to 6” height cattle won’t be as likely to graze into the more mature forage next grazing so that you can save it for use later in the winter. In the meantime, you will be rewarded with more pasture growth, better soil, and healthier livestock.


If you don’t have shelter for sheep and goats, birthing time is the most important consideration since goats are very prone to hypothermia, and lambs are not as tolerant of cold as calves. Late March and April are good times for lambing or kidding. If they are born in June, internal parasites are a real concern.

My current management is to pull the rams and bucks when I don’t want births. The months I don’t want them to birth small ruminants are January, February, June, July, August, or September. The gestation period is five months, so calculate it back five months from the listed dates to pull rams and bucks. I’m pulling my Rams and Bucks in late July. The problem with exposing ewes and nannies multiple times a year is that it’s much harder to keep good records of who birthed and raised them. Another issue is dealing with lambs and higher nutritional requirements over a longer period.

Now’s the time for the highest availability of goats and sheep. 


When selecting livestock, whether it’s cattle, sheep, goats, or pigs, I use the same selection criteria. I want the animal’s height to be 2/3 body (e.g., a 3’ tall animal would have 2’ of body and 1’ of leg), wide (barrel-shaped), have a flat top, good feet, and a wide muzzle. A healthy goat will have its tail up, and a healthy pig’s tail will be curly. With goats and sheep, check FAMACHA. FAMACHA is a technique to check for anemia, most likely due to barber pole worms. Pull back the bottom eyelid, and it should be pink.  Cherry red is best. If the eyelid isn’t at least pink, don’t buy them, they need deworming. Goats’ eyelids aren’t as red as sheep.


Even though we’re living through mid-summer, our thoughts need to be on the coming winter.  Strive for each grazing to be better!


October 19, Big Spring Farm Pasture Walk, Adolphus, KY; Preregister events@gregbrann.com

October 31, Kentucky Grazing Conference, Low-Stress Livestock Handling, Elizabethtown, KY, UKForageExtension@uky.edu

November 1, Kentucky Grazing Conference, Low-Stress Livestock Handling, Lexington, KY, UKForageExtension@uky.edu

February 16, Grazing for Profit, Harriman, TN (865) 248-3159,

Thank you for reading Greg Brann’s Timely Tips. This post is public, so feel free to share it.

September 2022 Timely Tips

September 2022 Timely Tips


As a consultant, I am often asked, “Do I need to reseed.” Many times, the pasture is fine; they just need to manage what they have. My recommendation is always to evaluate your management before you reseed. Consider whether your nutrients are balanced, have you managed your minimum grazing heights, and do you have good ground cover present. 

Fall Seeding

As the price of seed continues to increase, it’s important to your bottom line to first determine your objective for seeding. Do you need more forage, is weed suppression needed, is soil health diminishing?

Forage production and weed suppression

If you have areas with over 50% undesirable plants, now’s the time to seed. Annual ryegrass is excellent for competing and smothering undesirable vegetation, but hairy vetch, Austrian winter peas, barley, triticale, rape, and cereal rye also work well for weed suppression.

Soil health

I like planting different species in rotation or as a mix. Plant both grasses and legumes, but first, evaluate your mix by determining whether the soil lacks carbon (ground cover). Legumes typically should make up 30 to 50% of the biomass. Grasses add carbon to the soil, and legumes contribute nitrogen.


     Fall Hay Feeding

Hay feeding in the fall is counter-intuitive to most farmers, but the benefits can be very rewarding. Fall growth can reduce cattle cost the most since total hay feeding is reduced. Feeding hay when moisture is available, and temperatures are 60 to 75 degrees F will promote the most growth. While feeding hay, don’t graze over 20% of the total pasture acreage. This allows stockpiling fall growth on the remaining 80% of your pastures. This time of year, pastures grow 20-40 pounds per acre per day, so we can grow up to twice as much as we feed during this same period.

In January, we can’t grow grass, so fall hay feeding extends the growing season, and less hay is fed when we can’t grow grass. Feed the hay on lower fertility pastures or weedy fields.



Currently, warm season grasses and weeds are still growing, but we are on the cusp of transitioning into the cool season growth period. Cool season growth is ideal between 60 and 75 degrees F. The saying is “rotate fast when growth is fast and slow when growth is slow.” Growth in my area is fast right now, so rotate fast to control warm season growth and expose cool season forages to light. To keep light to your desirable forages, if you cannot graze, you may need to mow. We need to grow grass now to carry us through fall and winter. Cool season growth will slow or stop in early December. So ideally, at that point, we will have 120 days of grazing stockpiled for winter.


An acre inch of good grass weighs about 300 pounds. Twenty head of 1,000-pound cows will eat 26 pounds of forage per day (20 x 26 = 520 pounds of forage per day with 50% utilization), so you need 1040 pounds of forage presented to the cattle. 1040 pounds of grass needed, divided by 300 pounds per acre inch = 3.5” per acre. So, if the grass is 8” tall, paddock off half acre allotments for the 20 cows. That’s an animal density of 40,000 pounds per acre, a good stock density for excellent pasture management.

An open discussion about symptoms and root causes

My annual pasture walk is Thursday, October 20, from 10 am ct till about 3 pm. This year, I’m finishing cattle, sheep, and hogs. I’ve seeded winter annuals in several fields for forage production and weed control and overseeded some orchard grass fields with tall fescue. Fields were grazed first and then seeded.

I’ve made cross-fencing across steep drainage ways much more manageable by installing what I call “master links.” We’ll evaluate fields deciding what went right and what went wrong. Fall hay feeding will be discussed to help make sense of all the figures, and we’ll examine the cost-effectiveness of best management practices.


In summary, grow grass when you can grow grass. Stockpile grass for drought and winter. Ration grass to conserve your stockpile and extend the grazing season. Come join the conversation on October 20. Bring your questions and unidentified plants, and we’ll talk soil, plant, and animal management. We’ll have a hardy lunch from the farm, cooked up by Brayden Apple with River Cottage Farm.

July Timely Tips

June Timely Tips

Summer Mowing, Controling Flies, and Pasture Condition Scoring


Weather conditions vary a good bit across the region, but rain is always welcome in summer, and luckily, we’ve had just enough every time it’s been needed. Although moisture is needed to grow grass, the result will be a green-up without growth unless grazing height, plant residue, and recovery time are respected. Over 90% of grass growth occurs by managing residual height, air, sunshine, and rainfall. 


The common question is, “Should I mow, and if so, how high?” Of course, it depends; mowing costs around $25/ac, so we need to be sure the cost can be recouped. Grazing at high densities of around 40,000 pounds or higher of livestock per acre lays down a lot of the grass, greatly reducing or eliminating the need for mowing. Laying down residual grass also benefits soil health, creating more ground cover and feed for underground livestock. A rule of thumb is to keep light to desirable plants and shade out undesirable plants. Another commonly agreed practice is to control vegetation when weeds occupy 20% or more of a pasture. If I am going to mow, I prefer to mow after grazing and not mow over 20% of the total pasture acreage at one time. Mowing low has more impact on weeds, but remember another principle, manage for what you want, not what you don’t want. Another rule of thumb is to mow 2” into the leaf of grass. Typically, I mow to a 5” height. If the pasture is mostly weeds with little desirable grass, you’ll want to mow low but don’t mow lower than 3” on tall fescue-dominated pastures.


I use several different methods of fly control. The economic threshold for flies is 200 per cow. My favorite fly control is one or more pounds of garlic powder mixed with 50 pounds of mineral. I get my garlic from webrestaurantstore.com. Keep the garlic sealed till you use it, or it will harden and ball up.

As pictured, I also use 12” fly paper wrapped around an old protein tub. After I caught several birds on the paper, I added chicken wire. The birds were likely eating more flies than I was catching. I am thrilled to see birds pick flies off the paper without getting stuck, which is a win-win. I place these around facilities like water and mineral sites. Sometimes I mop vegetable or mineral oil on cattle to reduce flies for about a week. I also have a walk-through fly trap that works best in a lane. We use it for our dairy. Plans for the walk-through fly trap are available online.


Water is the most important nutrient. Livestock consumes up to twice as much water if they don’t have shade. Production of meat and milk is higher with higher water consumption. Additional water points can improve consumption, availability, grazing, and nutrient distribution. Mobile water can be used in addition to a permanent water source. I like the Jobe Mega Flow valve plumbed into a 40 to 50-gallon trough. Place a hot wire across the trough to prevent cattle from stepping on the valve. If you are not getting water to a high point on the landscape, you will most likely need more pressure. Pressure switches cost about $100, so it is an easy fix. The pressure needed is one psi for every 2.31’ of elevation. For example, a 100’ elevation difference needs 44 psi or more. There is some pressure loss for distance, but most loss is due to elevation. Watch float settings and connections. Leaky water troughs cost water loss and make a puggy mess.


Generally, it is best to manage the grass you have, but bare ground is terrible. It’s getting a little late to seed warm-season forage, but it can work with moisture. Now is the best time to sow if you are seeding into cool season forage like thin, tall fescue because cool seasons go dormant in warm, dry conditions. Crabgrass is a reseeding annual, so I prefer it to other options like sudangrass or millets. There are several improved types of crabgrass: red river, quick and Big, mojo, and others; they are all good. Crabgrass sets you up nicely to seed tall fescue or orchardgrass in September. Annual Lespedeza is a good companion with crabgrass and reseeds well. Bermudagrass is a good option if you feed in the same area yearly.

These two photos show the pasture before turning in, and after grazing.

Here’s that same pasture after using short-duration high-density grazing with ~50,000 pounds of livestock per acre. This can reduce the need for mowing.


If you haven’t tried top-third grazing, I encourage you to try it. An example of top-third grazing is to turn in when the grass is 9” tall and grazing down to 6” or turning in at 6” tall and out at 4”. Regrowth is much faster, and the stock is consuming the best forage but not overgrazing the best plants. It works best with high-density, short-duration grazing. Some folks think stomped-down forage is wasted, but it has many benefits. First off, it is energy (carbon) stored for the future. Other benefits are moisture conservation, weed control, and feed for the below-ground herd, which will, in turn, make water-stable soil aggregates which improves poor space and water infiltration, among other benefits.

The featured photo at the top of this post was a degraded pasture, brought back to life.  I unrolled plenty of hay, applied some needed lime, and utilized top third grazing.  


The best time to evaluate pastures is just before grazing. Look straight down at the pasture evaluating the following indicators.

Pasture Condition Scoring (PCS) involves rating 10 Indicators: Percent of Desirable Plants, Percent of Legume, Live Plant Cover (includes dormant), Plant Diversity, Plant Residue (Litter) as Soil Cover, Grazing Utilization and Severity, Livestock Concentration Areas, Soil Compaction and Soil Regenerative Factors, Plant Vigor, Erosion (Sheet and Rill, Streambank, Shoreline, Gullies.) All these factors are important; determining the weak link in your operation is key to your success. Once you determine the weak link on a pasture, you can focus on it for the biggest return on investment of time and money. Another similar assessment, Determining Indicators of Pastureland Health (DIPH), involves 22 indicators.


Sheep are grazers, and goats are browsers. The common question is, what ratio of small ruminants to cattle do you prefer? As usual, it depends primarily on the vegetation you have. Goats have a very different diet than cattle, so you can stock up to two goats for every cow and not affect cattle grazing. You may even improve it because the thorny species are out of the way. On the other hand, sheep eat a very similar diet to cattle, so one sheep for every couple of cows is probably best. You can push that up a little bit if you keep your forage vegetative. Lambs don’t do well in tall grass. Animal unit equivalents to a 1000-pound cattle are five sheep or six goats. Training small ruminants to respect electric fences will make your life easier.


Manage what you have by keeping more leaf on your grass and strive to keep it vegetative. Maintain quality water, rotate stock when the pasture is soiled, and mow if you need to reset mature grass and make it more vegetative or if weeds are greater than 20% of the pasture. And lastly, control flies. Over 200 flies per animal diminish your bottom line by causing weight loss and spreading disease.

Remember that if you want to “turn on your pastures,” you must feed the livestock below ground.

Strive for each grazing to be better!


Greg Brann

Synergistic Grazing Management


October 19, Big Spring Farm Pasture Walk, Adolphus, KY

October 31, Kentucky Grazing Conference, Low-Stress Livestock Handling, Elizabethtown, KY.

November 1, Kentucky Grazing Conference, Low-Stress Livestock Handling, Lexington, KY.

February 15, Grazing for Profit, Harriman, TN (865) 248-3159,

Timely Tips – February 2022

Timely Tips – February 2022

Winter Grazing:

Mud and Seeding


It’s been a long, cold, wet winter in Tennessee/Kentucky, and this inevitably brings on the potential for lots of mud. Hay feeding strategies and maintaining cover are crucial to reducing mud and compaction. Seeding areas denuded from feeding will increase production, reduce weeds, and improve soil health.

Mud Management

Here are a few considerations to reduce the impacts of mud

  • Number One – maintaining good vegetation
  • Stockpile pastures intended for winter feeding
  • Feeding away from travel areas
  • Unroll hay on areas to build fertility and weedy areas (48-14-48/ton N, P2O5 & K2O)
  • No hay ring around good hay with 20 plus cattle
  • Where possible, bring in hay from the side of the field that has more cover, not through the cattle
  • Feed over the fence
  • Move hay feeding location each feeding
  • Set out hay when dry or when the ground’s frozen
  • Ration bale grazing with polywire
  • Fenceline feeders and manger feeders used only in wet, muddy conditions
  • Use these conditions to your advantage, pug out undesirable vegetation
  • Reseed areas lacking cover 

ips for Winter Seeding

      • Frost seed in February, ideally on frozen ground or snow
      • Ideal time to seed legumes 
      • Drill or harrow in March
      • Cool season grass, ideally drilled in September
      • Warm season grass like crabgrass broadcast seeded on lightly tilled soil in Ma

        Seeding Feeding areas

      • Persistent use areas, seed bermudagrass or tall fescue
      • Seed something to utilize excess nutrients and reduce weeds, annuals are fast and reduce weed issues
      • 2-4-8 Renovate! 2lbs white clover, 4lbs red clover, 8lbs annual lespedeza on thinner soils. If cost is a concern, use this ratio, reduced.
      • Pelletized lime works well to bulk up the seed mix.