Ranch Shredding

Ranch shredding, or ranch mowing, is a topic that deserves its own article. This is that article.

There are so many trains of thought regarding ranch shredding, so let’s look at the two main avenues of thought and see if we can clarify it all just a bit.

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Now let’s talk about ranch shredding.

What is ranch shredding?

Ranch shredding is just a fancy term for mowing your ranch grasses and pastures. It generally consists of operating necessary tractor mowing equipment tackling the vegetation in pasture, cutting it down to ground level, thus “re-seeding” the pasture so it will grow faster the next season.  Organic material is left on the ground to compost and feed the soil, and in theory that will result in a lush pasture in the future.

How often should you mow ranch land?

The controversy begins with any discussion of how often you should mow ranch land.  Too much mowing will result in stunted growth. Too little mowing will result in a lack of nutrients in the soil.

The best time for ranch shredding

What does the Extension Service say about ranch mowing? Let’s take a look:

“Mowing is needed when animals can’t keep up with plant growth. Plants “want” to grow to maturity, set seed, and shut down for the season. We want them to stay vegetative because that form is more nutritious (more protein and digestible fiber). We keep them vegetative by mowing before they head out. I can’t tell you how often you need to do this—it will depend on your irrigation and the weather. You can easily assess by taking a look, though. In most cases, you would mow or graze when grass plants are 6-8” tall and only mow/graze down to 3” (take half, leave half). The plant’s energy reserves are stored in the bottom 3” of the stem, not the roots, so overgrazing really sets plants back. Grass plants respond to grazing/mowing by sending out more tillers (stems) and making the pasture thicker, capturing more sunlight and making the field more productive. Mowing will also stimulate new and more palatable growth on the plants the horses don’t tend to eat and it will help control weeds if you mow before they set seed. Harrowing the pasture is a good idea, too—it distributes manure (fertilizer) more evenly and reduces the taboo areas where horses refuse to graze.”

It depends on what you want

This is the bottom line of this discussion. One size does not fit all purposes.  Decide what you want from your ranch pasture and then decide on what kind of ranch shredding schedule will work best for your purposes. If you need help, seek professional advice from the local extension office.  They are always eager to share their lot mowing expertise with ranchers and farmers.

A word about Keith’s Tractor Mowing

Keith’s Tractor Mowing is a local company which is highly respected in the Fort Worth area. Call us for more information about ranch shredding or all of our commercial mowing services.