Serving Minnesota and Northern Iowa.

Famers using rotational grazing see benefits

By Carol Stender

Date Modified: 07/24/2013 4:24 PM

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ROSEAU, Minn. — Shayne and Jamie Isane saw the benefits of rotational grazing during last year's drought.

Conventional grazing and water systems became depleted in the drought, they said during the Minnesota State Cattlemen's Summer Tour.

Rotational grazing is good for grasses and the soil. NRCS grazing specialist Mark Hayek demonstrated the affects of rainfall on four systems — pasture, pasture with bluegrass, conventional till, conventional till with cover crop and no till. The ground that had the grasses held more water and filtered it.

Their watering system, installed by Darin Bertilrud, brings fresh water to paddocks and eliminates the need for ponds, they said.

Bertilrud, who started installing the systems through his Bert's Livestock Watering System business in 2007, said fresh water systems prevent disease from spreading and improves herd health.

The Isanes have installed 3,200 feet of 1.5-inch pipeline for the system plus 26 miles of tensile wire for the rotational grazing pastures.

The herd is made up of 300 crossbred cows that are primarily Black Angus, Red Angus and Hereford. They start calving in mid-March and end two months later.

The cows are dispersed to several rotational pastures.

The cattle are brought in from pasture in the fall, and the calves are weaned. Calves are backgrounded until February or March and then sold at the local livestock barn in Bagley. Hay is important to Isane Farms. They feed it to their own herd and have a commercial hay business. Commercial hay is put up in large square bales and shipped to several states.

The brothers also raise corn, soybeans and wheat on 3,000 acres.

They also have a trucking company that hauls gravel and dirt for the construction portion of their business plus ship grain, hay and feed.

On the Waage Farm near Strathcona, brothers Ryan and Ross and their cousin, Todd, operate a feedlot and use sunflowers, beet pulp, potatoes and distillers grain in the rations. Over the last few years they've mixed beet pulp, potatoes and straw in the ration, said Ross.

The use of byproducts has been good for their operation, he said.

Their feedlots are open with a good shelterbelt for protection from the weather. They purchase cattle through brokers and sale barns, keeping the livestock they bring to the feedlots in groups.

They market around 2,500 feeders a year.