By Tom Collins
PARIS — Raising cattle on a rotational-grazing farm was something that was borne out of necessity for a Western Ontario farmer who had no background in agriculture.
Sandra Vos raises up to 35 beef cows and yearlings on her 80 acres outside of Paris in Brant County. Vos, originally from Toronto, is a nurse by trade, and ended up buying the land from her uncle in 2001 to keep the property in the family. She started raising beef cattle about three years later.
With only about 55 acres usable for pasture and hay, Vos needed a system that could get the maximum use out of the acreage. Her rotational grazing system earned Vos the environmental stewardship award (TESA) from the Beef Farmers of Ontario on Feb. 22.
“Land is incredibly expensive. Getting more land at this point is just an impossibility, so my goal is to improve the land through rotational grazing and have more animals on it without having to go out and buy more land,” Vos said.
Vos has designed a unique system for her rotational grazing. Every week, she spends about an hour installing a paddock area made out of temporary wires and step-in stakes. The paddock is broken down into seven sections, about an acre each. Each day, the Red Angus cattle are moved to a different section of the paddock, a process that takes about 10 minutes. At the end of the week, Vos sets up a new paddock over a different seven acres.
“For me, rotational grazing is very simple,” Vos said. “I don’t need a lot of equipment to do it. I farm by myself, so it has to be efficient, it has to be safe, and it has to be easy to do so if I want to take a couple of days off, I can train somebody to open wires and close wires.”
Vos also installed above-ground water lines to provide easy access to water for the cattle, fenced off the creek to keep the cattle out of the water, and fenced off the bush area to provide a space for deer and birds.