Manage Like Mastodons
Mastodons were the keystone species of Pleistocene savannas in the Midwest, keeping forests at bay by knocking down trees, stripping bark and leaves, and opening up the canopy for sunlight to hit the ground allowing grasses to flourish. The landscape resulting from mastodon management was a lush and diverse mosaic of scattered trees and grassland – supporting more mammal diversity and biomass than anywhere else on the planet.
This week the cattle are in a paddock with lots of box elder saplings, young black locust trees, and hybrid poplar stump sprouts. Yesterday, I walked through the paddock knocking down all the poplar and box elder so the cows could eat the leaves. As soon as the trees came down, they all came running and mobbed down the tree leaves. Just then, I heard a chainsaw just up the hill. I walked up and Mark was cutting down some of the black locust so the cows could get at the branches. We were both thinking the same thing. Sometimes you just have to manage like mastodons.