On private range, ranchers have more options to do what might be best for the land and cattle, using innovations and flexibility. Here's a solid refresher on rotational grazing for cattle ranchers. Because goats eat things like woody brush, forbs, and problem weeds, they can take care of those plants while your cattle will prefer to graze legumes and common grasses. Case Study 2: Elk in Montana. In its simplest form, rotational grazing is described as moving grazing livestock from one paddock to another, allowing time for the previously grazed pasture to regrow prior to the next grazing event. Informa PLC's registered office is 5 Howick Place, London SW1P 1WG. Understanding the growth phases of forage, the amount of residual feed to leave and when the animals need to be moved is crucial, especially with cool-season grasses, or they won’t grow back very well. Thank you, your email will be added to the mailing list once you click on the link in the confirmation email. Their land is a mixture of mid-tall grass prairie, former cropland and abandoned cattle feedlots. Most of the Midwest grasslands are managed under continuous grazing practice, under which livestock graze the entire pasture season long without any grass recovery period. This makes the recovery periods longer than they can afford to have,” he says. Editor’s note: In talking with longtime BEEF readers, a top concern is helping people new to the business understand the art as well as the science of raising cattle. Stocking rate should always focus on forage demand rather than cow numbers. Neither text, nor links to other websites, is reviewed or endorsed by The Ohio State University. So, ride or walk your pastures to learn what they are telling you. “At that point, growth rate slows dramatically and the plant goes into Phase 3, which is when we would cut it for hay; it’s as big as it’s going to get,” explains Gerrish. However, mob grazing does have some distinct benefits: 1. Rotational grazing is the practice of moving grazing livestock between pastures (often called paddocks) as needed or on a regular basis. All rights reserved. If you have superior milking cows, they need almost twice the energy at peak lactation as they did when they were dry. We are back at it again with our Ag-notes from the students of the 2018 Small Ruminant Production course. To address this concern, BEEF will feature a series of articles over the next year written by veteran contributor Heather Smith Thomas that looks at various aspects of ranch management. John Hall, superintendent of the University of Idaho’s Nancy M. Cummings Research, Extension and Education Center near Salmon, says rotational grazing is always a very positive tool for stock producers, especially on irrigated ground. Rotational grazing with more than one species of livestock usually increases the efficiency of forage utilization and reduces the intensity of “landscape maintenance” practices such as mowing, chopping, or herbicide application. The reduced need for pesticides in rotational grazing systems benefits all. Regarding rotation grazing management in general, Hall’s advice is to learn the basics and then try to customize them to your ranch — always keeping the need for flexibility in mind. Ranchers are limited on public range when trying to graze certain areas at certain times, since there are constraints on when various pastures or allotments can be used. It’s most common in pastures that are continuously grazed, without rotation — but it can also happen in a rotation program if you leave cattle in a paddock too long, or if your recovery period is too short. “Basic techniques for rotation grazing management can be learned in workshops like the Lost River Grazing School in Lemhi County [Idaho], but then you must adapt those basics to your situation and your particular ranch,” says Hall. Temporary electric fence can be inexpensive and easy to move, partly because no gates are needed. Registered in England and Wales. It’s healthier for the pasture. Pastures and paddock setups can also make a difference in what’s most feasible. Management also needs to be applied that will maintain adequate leaf area for capturing sunlight and provide sufficient rest between grazing events for the plants in the pasture to recover. There are many benefits to this strategy as rotational grazing allows producers to utilize their pastures more efficiently by decreasing feed costs, decreasing weed pressure present in a pasture setting, improving the health and performance of grazing flocks, and contributing to the sustainability of the grazing land. Benefits of Rotational Grazing Rotational grazing provides many benefits and opportunities for livestock owners. Good grazing practices are often thought of as rotational grazing, but this is at best a half-truth. If you can run yearlings part of the season, or keep more heifers than you need, selling some after they are bred, you can adjust the stocking rate to try to match the grass supply. Animals that heavily graze a specific area can benefit the land by consuming and or physically destroying weed populations. Your local Extension or Natural Resources Conservation Service folks can provide advice on establishing and maintaining pastures, but how you manage them will determine the ongoing health and quality of those pastures. These pieces of land are usually described as marginal. Please contact site owner for help. Benefits of grazing Cost The biggest cost in most, if not all, cattle production systems is feed. Planned grazing by cattle on elk winter ranges can be an effective way to enhance forage palatability.21 In 1984 a rotational grazing system was established to address forage conflicts between elk (Cervus elaphus) and livestock on Mount Haggin Wildlife Management Area in Montana.22 The system rotated rested pastures in a manner that maintained … Properly managed pasture-based systems use land efficiently and provide high production per acre. Benefits of Rotational Grazing Rotational grazing can be simply explained as moving livestock between pastures (often called paddocks) every set number of days or as needed. Cattle will generally do most of their grazing within 800 feet of a water source. Marginal land Not all land can grow row crops. For example, in a continuous grazing scenario, organic matter distribution may be sporadic as higher levels of organic matter would be found in areas of shade or a water source as animals may have a preference for these types of environments. Another benefit of rotational grazing is that cattle become gentler with regular human contact during moves to fresh paddocks. Clean water is important for good animal performance. Designing and spacing watering tanks can keep grazing animals away from stream and increase grazing utilization of the pasture. The Benefits of Rotational Grazing Hart Dairy / 2 days ago / Animal welfare , Grass , Regenerative Farming , Sustainability , Cows , Rotational Grazing At Hart Dairy, we know that in order to produce the best feed from our pastures, we must manage those pastures in a more sustainable way. The pipes are tall enough to pass over the fence, as long as you don’t have the fence where the wheels have to go across,” he says. Providing good clean water from a spring or well can increase gains by 20 percent. Rotational grazing can help extend the grazing season, allowing a producer to rely less on stored feed and supplement. When moving animals more frequently, the grazier sets eyes on each animal much more often than in less intensively managed systems. A gentle herd first begins in the “wintering lot” where cattle are “bucket broke.” The Pembertons buy 450- to 600-pound black Angus heifers from private treaties. If you have trouble accessing this page and need to request an alternate format, contact u@osu.edu. This site is operated by a business or businesses owned by Informa PLC and all copyright resides with them. Overgrazing can happen whenever cattle are allowed to return to the same plants, keeping them grazed down into Phase 1. There are many benefits to this strategy as rotational grazing allows producers to utilize their pastures more efficiently by decreasing feed costs, decreasing weed pressure present in a pasture setting, improving the health and performance of grazing flocks, and contributing to the sustainability of the grazing land. As we approach fall like temperatures, forage growth patterns will begin to change. That means sickness and other issues can be noticed and addressed in a timelier manner. One consideration that may be of great benefit to you and your operation is to obtain some aerial images of your land to determine where you can make your pastures and how they will be split. “This Phase 2 growth continues until the mass of the plant is requiring a lot of energy just to maintain its structure. A managed rotational grazing system needs to be implemented which subdivides the pasture into smaller paddocks. There are many benefits to this strategy as rotational grazing allows producers to utilize their pastures more efficiently by decreasing feed costs, decreasing weed pressure present in a pasture setting, improving the health and performance of grazing flocks, and contributing to the sustainability of the grazing land. That doesn’t include the benefits of stockpiling grass in the field for fall or winter grazing. Rotational grazing allows a producer to be more in control of the timing and intensity of forage grazed by cattle. Spam protection has stopped this request. “The goal of rotational grazing is hold the grass in Phase 2 for as much of the season as possible by letting pastures recover periodically,” he explains. It takes a while to get enough leaf area to capture adequate solar energy for rapid growth,” he says. This is because cattle have a higher level of preference for grass, goats for woody plants, and sheep for forbs. “Wheel lines can cross over [electric fences] because they are not a physical barrier — especially if you run the fence perpendicular to the wheel line path. If the pasture is in a recovery period and not grazed, plants start to accumulate enough leaf area to be able to grow more rapidly. “This is the part you can’t learn from a book or a workshop. Many producers use grazing to reduce costs for their operations. While in this Ag-note the benefits of rotational grazing were demonstrated with sheep, the advantages remain similar for all grazing species. There is also some shading of the lower leaves and some leaves dying. Jim Gerrish, American GrazingLands Services, May, Idaho, says grass growth involves three phases. Cattle prefer grass in Phase 1 because it’s tender, succulent and high in nutritional quality. To maximize and optimize the use of this precious asset many farmers/ranchers are turning to rotational grazing. “A common thing you’ll see in continuously grazed pastures is overgrazed areas [Phase 1 grass] right next to mature clumps [Phase 3] that cattle aren’t eating — and no Phase 2 grass. “We discuss electric fence, but research across the West has looked at controlling cattle use of rangeland without fences. Improved herd health: Although often an unintended, improved herd health is a common side effect of rotational grazing. There are many variables regarding the best number of days spent in a paddock. A lactating cow has a much higher demand than a dry cow. In a cow-calf operation, this is the greatest challenge for keeping the forage supply and animal demand in balance. While these articles will focus on the basics, it may be that old-timers can pick up a tip or two as well. Remember, water sources for grazing livestock should be within 800 feet for effective grazing management. Smith Thomas is a rancher and freelance writer based in Salmon, Idaho. One of the most desirable attributes of this system is that a producer can design it to fit their needs. For many who use rotational grazing, planned frequent movements of livestock on pasture, the goal is to use livestock as a tool to improve the soil and the forage diversity of the farms they manage. The Wildland Vegetation program incorporates due consideration for the forage needs of deer and other wildlife, erosion control, and a desire for protection of sensitive environments. In addition to the costs of feeding, rotational grazing will greatly benefit your land. Grazing multiple species allows you to increase your stocking density without overloading your pastures. Electric netting allows our shepherds to quickly subdivide pastures. Number 8860726. The key to rotational grazing or trying to expand the grazing season with pasture management is to try a new idea, on a small scale, before you change your whole system. When done properly, pasture rotation can prevent overgrazing, aid optimal regrowth of plants and allow the same piece of ground to be grazed several times during growing season. by Troy Smith, field editor @Enticed by the potential benefits, including increased quantity and quality of forage produced, im-proved utilization of available forage and increased carrying capacity, Dan Stelling applied rotational-grazing … Those will change from year to year, as Mother Nature dictates. Premier’s goats grazing alongside ElectroStop® 10/42/12. Cattle producers target grasses and attempt to eliminate bare ground and reduce forbs and brush in favor of homogenous, grass-dominated pastures. When livestock graze large pastures, they tend to repeatedly graze preferred areas. You must be cautious as you monitor the growth and regrowth of your pastures. Holistic planned grazing forms just one part of a wider holistic management framework. This week, students Matt Blose, Marissa Friel, Courtney Hale, and Maureen Hirzel provide us with a brief outline of the benefits of rotational grazing by providing insight on how to start and some important considerations you need to ask yourself prior to jumping into this type of management scheme. Once cattle learn they can do this, they can be easily moved without gates. Using Google Earth would be a simple way to easily plot your paddocks of interest. “We still have a lot to learn about how best to use these grasses, especially on rangeland. Rotational Grazing Benefits: South Dakota Producer Perceptions. Related: How to build a low-maintenance cowherd. On a dry year when grasses become short on protein, cows will readily eat a protein supplement, and you can move the location of their grazing with movement of supplement tubs. Another benefit of rotational grazing is that cattle become gentler with regular human contact during moves to fresh paddocks. This is stressful for plants because they don’t have enough leaf area to support maintenance,” he says. First, you need to take into account several factors such as land availability, rotation schedule, number of animals being grazed, and forage availability. When conducted at a high level of intensity, rotational grazing can also offer your grazing animals feedstuffs of high quality depending upon the maturity stage of plant growth. But this won’t work for every operation. Rotational grazing systems are generally the most efficient way to get the best use of pastures and maximum beef production per acre, as well as being healthier for the land and plants. Lines and paragraphs break automatically. Grazing Benefits Regenerative grazing is a principle-driven agricultural practice of building soil health by managing livestock on perennial and annual forages, and in a way that supports human and ecosystem health, farm profitability, and community and food system resilience. Informa Markets, a trading division of Informa PLC. Some stock producers find best results by moving cattle daily or even several times a day. Increased pasture productivity Rotational grazing can help improve long-term pasture quality and fertility by favoring desirable pasture species and allowing for even manure distri- bution. https://www.beefmagazine.com/sites/all/themes/penton_subtheme_beefmagazine/images/logos/footer.png. Beef Magazine is part of the Informa Markets Division of Informa PLC. Cattle can be moved just by putting a couple of tall sticks or pieces of PVC pipe in the fence line for a few moments, to raise the electric wire enough for cattle to go under it and into the next paddock. Once you have an idea of where you will be grazing your flock, the next consideration is resources. When you go from a dry cow (maintenance requirements) to peak lactation, you’ve doubled the demand on the pastures — even before you add in the calf. Keep in mind that rotational grazing is simply an organized method of managing grazing livestock. Copyright © 2021. Beef producers and researchers alike have long known that rotational grazing is best for pasture health. “You can also put up permanent single-strand, high-tensile fence 2 feet tall that you don’t have to move, says Gerrish. Among the four benefits listed, faster drought recovery was most highly rated by users, in that nearly 50% of the users perceived significant benefit of rotational grazing when it comes to the increased resilience of grassland to drought. The main benefits of rotational grazing stem from a focus on plant growth phase. Benefits of Multi-Species Rotational Grazing. Learning how to adjust the grazing and recovery periods is an art. This form is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply. The growth rate is very fast for a while, then slows to nothing, so it’s hard to keep everything in Phase 2 in a continuously grazed pasture. Cornstalk grazing: What supplementation is needed? Ag Economy Barometer rises in December 2020, Vaccine successfully treats bovine anaplasmosis, Taiwan president urges easing of beef, pork trade barriers, Cedar fight goes across fence and state lines, South Dakota rancher uses cover crops, rotational grazing to extend grazing period, Salt placement was traditionally used to distribute cattle, Allowed HTML tags:


. The Wallaces currently run 40 cows, 230 ewes and 40 nannies on several hundred acres that are cross-fenced into small paddocks for rotational grazing. If it turns dry, what should we do differently than if we had a better year?” asks Hall. “We take the cattle off when grass is eaten down toward the lower height of Phase 2. – Matt Blose, Marissa Friel, Courtney Hale, Maureen Hirzel, OSU Animal Science Undergraduate Students, and Brady Campbell, Program Coordinator, OSU Sheep Team. This method of grazing has low input costs, low labor requirements, and allows for livestock to choose what plants they wish to consume. Cattle can create bare land or a thriving grassland ecosystem. DeLaune is researching the integration of cover crops and livestock into cotton-wheat rotation systems, including grazing after cotton harvest. Instead of letting animals continuously graze down an entire pasture, the animals are herded into a section of the pasture for a short period of time. “But the problems we generally have, especially in the West, are temperature extremes — and we can’t always get grass watered when it needs it. “One of the problems in thinking about rotational grazing is the tendency to think one size fits all, and that there’s a particular way to set up pastures and move cows,” says Hall. There are numerous benefits to multi-species grazing, especially for those who start out with rural or mountain properties (rather than pastures) that have marginal grazing land in need of improvement. However, once your flock is out to pasture, the work certainly does not stop here. “If the irrigation system breaks down and takes a few days to fix, or it doesn’t rain, or whatever, we may have to be willing to feed hay at a time of year we hate to feed hay, just to give those pastures enough time to recover,” he explains. You run into situations each year that you haven’t encountered before, as well as learn from your mistakes. However, stocking rates and pasture moves aren’t a static thing. “This is a tool you absolutely must use to get maximum beef production on that expensive input,” he says. This may vary from north to south in the U.S., but studies show that by keeping forages in their rapid-growth stage more of the time, rotational grazing reduces the need to feed hay by about 30%. Grass was so plentiful in 2018 that cattle grazed until Christmas, Brian says. Adjusting recovery periods to encourage maximum grass growth and keep most of it in Phase 2 is a juggling act. The Pembertons see several benefits of rotational grazing, such as pasture rest, time for regrowth and soil conservation. Remove cattle from cornstalks when soils begin to thaw, Cover crops offer potential grazing benefit for cattle operations. refers to the allowance of a group of grazing livestock to selectively choose what forage they eat in a large pasture for the duration of the growing season. Contributors include members of the OSU Beef Team and beef cattle specialists and economists from across the U.S. Fall Plant Control of cressleaf groundsel; Prevent the sea of yellow in the spring, Management Considerations for Warm-Season Perennials, Winter Application of Manure; Remember Setbacks, Visit our ‘One-stop Shop’ to View Agriculture and Natural Resources Programs. Do you have enough fencing, both permanent and temporary, as well as an adequate water source? Good ranch management starts with good pasture management. 4. If you leave animals on a piece of land for too long, they’ll eat down …

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