After being set-stocked on a pasture near the farmstead and fed hay all winter it is finally time to start rotating the animals through the pastures again. Temperatures are above freezing and the automatic water system is turned on again so we've put the animals out on a pasture toward the back of the farm. We set up a couple of temporary fences that we will move regularly giving them a bit of fresh ground each day. There still isn't much green out there yet, but it is good for them to start switching feeds slowly.
Cattle and sheep are ruminants that rely on bacteria to digest the feed they consume. Switching their feed too quickly can mean killing off too many of the bacteria that were adapted to that feed before bacteria more suited to the new feed are ready to take over. This leaves them with an unhappy belly and a body more vulnerable to health issues. Switching feeds gradually is one of the preventive techniques we use to protect our animals' health without using medicines. They'll continue to have hay to munch on until they no longer need it. Meanwhile they'll enjoy the fresh ground and the taste of spring.