Published Jul 7, 2010

Managing Pasture for Birds at Dan Specht’s

By Kevin Dietzel
Pastures can be managed for bird habitat and for productivity and animal performance. On a warm Saturday morning (June 26, 2010), fifteen people gathered at Dan Specht’s farm to hear about different ways to manage pastures for bird habitat.
Dan started the session by talking about his grazing management practices, including grazing some pastures and hayfields early in the spring, causing them to reach maturity later. This way, they can be grazed or hayed after the early summer nesting season and still have good forage quality.
Next, Greg Schmitt from the Iowa DNR talked about different programs the DNR is working on related to bird and wildlife habitat on private lands, and also touched on funding opportunities from the NRCS.
Ron Windingstad, of the Audubon Society in Minnesota, talked about different things Audubon is working on, and specific bird species that need extra attention because of their rarity and lack of habitat. He is shown here demonstrating a model chimney swift tower.
Bird expert Jon Stravers also talked about various birds and answered questions about bird habitat and life cycles.
Mike Natvig and Dan Specht chat by the truck before the field day.

Some of the workshop attendees went on a pasture and bird walk after lunch. We saw several bobolinks, some gold finches, and other birds I don’t remember anymore.
We saw Dan’s cows on the pasture walk too!
Dan’s watering tank. All of his pastures are on a gravity feed watering system, with automatic float valves in each tank. Dan says it is important to put electric wire around the float mechanism so the cows do not play with it.

People can drink from these waterers too!

Dan demonstrates his crowd gate made from a deconstructed grain bin. He says it is important to set the middle post first, then construct the exterior around that.