When Darrel Franson set up his grazing system in 1994, he rotated cows on five-acre cells of forage just at vegetative stage. He calculated they’d have enough to eat for five days.
“But after about three days, they would stand there bawling at me, looking to move across to the next cell,” says Franson, Mt. Vernon, MO. “So I thought, I’ll take a poly wire and split that cell into two 2½-acre cells. Lo and behold if I didn’t get an extra day out of it!”
Then he split those two cells into four and the cows were satisfied for five days.
“I soon taught myself that, if I just give these cows what they could eat in a day, I get the most utilization. That’s when I bought the tumble wheels and started rolling the fence to give them enough for one day or sometimes half a day. During calving season I check them during the morning and the night, so I move fence each time and get even better utilization,” he says.
A tumble wheel, consisting of six spokes and a central hub to hold electric fence wire, is a portable unit that takes only one person to roll from one part of a pasture to another. In summer, Franson also back-fences – after he moves the tumble wheel into fresh pasture, he also moves the fencing behind the cattle up to keep them from back grazing.
“If I had turned them in on that whole 10-acre piece, they would take what they like best. But I’m the referee; I’m the 10-count guy. I will say when they can go back and eat that off again. And it won’t be until the plant has gotten up and replaced its root reserves and is ready to go again. Ready to fight a fair fight.”