It's safe to say that "s**t happens". And on a cattle ranch, it happens A LOT!
You can tell a lot about your herd, with just the cow pies on the ground. Our daily pasture walks provide a variety of health indicators. A healthy poop looks different each season. Color and consistency change along with it. Spring is the simple loose stool, brighter green in color. This "splatter" is normal consistency with the high protein but low fiber from the tender, young grasses they are eating. As the grass begins to dry in the Summer the color becomes more brown. Summer stool shows more bio mass but less protein.
As Summer spills into Fall, the grass becomes less nutrient. This causes the poop to have more of a dough consistency as seen in the second photo. As the protein levels drop, it is a good idea to add additional supplements. In order to decrease the dependency of hay and supplement, we keep a multi-species planting plan, allowing the food plots to stagger seasonally. This is also beneficial with our rotational grazing.
Illness can also be determined from cow pies. When you see a chalky white, tan, or grey, it can indicate some form of illness. This is important to keep an eye on the herd due to spreading as well. The biggest factor we look for is diarrhea. Runny or liquid poop requires our immediate attention for determining cause and treatment.
These cow pies are only one way we monitor the herd health. We love staying up to date with them and that's why we never miss a day of walking through the herd and kicking some cow pies! Hey, s**t happens!