Grazing management principles

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Grazing management is one of many techniques used to accomplish the goals of sustainable farming. It’s a way to use your cattle in combination with your land as two most important resources you have at your disposal as a farmer.

By managing your cattle more efficiently you’ll be able to nourish the soil and to use its full capacities in order to feed the animals from your own resources. This is effective both in terms of its financial accomplishments and in terms of green farming.

There are a few basic principles of this practice, we will put forward here:

A short grazing period

One of the biggest problems that modern farmers are facing is overgrazing. That can be easily solved by making sure that you have a short grazing period and that you stick to it no matter what. Doing so will prevent he cattle from eating the regrown yields as soon as it comes out.

Animals will start with eating the best forage first and move on to the less ones only when this one is done. This is a way for you to monitor when it’s the time cut the grazing period.

Stocking rates and carrying capacity

These two ways to measure the yields and the amount of grazing needed are often confused and seen as one of the same. However, they aren’t the same and you should adjust one to the other, in particular stocking rates should match carrying capacity.

Stocking rate should be the one to be adjusted in order to become the same as the carrying capacity. That’s the way to deal with the changing amount of feed available and to make sure that there’s enough of feed for all of your animals at all times.

Changing the rest period

Implementing resting periods during which your cattle won’t graze at all, is perfectly normal and many do so regardless of the rest of their practices. Those who care about environmental practices, need to do more than that.  The resting period needs to change and adapt to the quality of your soil and its growth rate.

As the growth rate change, you’ll need to shorten or prolong the rest period to adapt to the new reality of the quality of your pasture and most importantly yours soil. Irrigated pastures (cool-season grasses) typically grow rapidly in the spring, slow down considerably in the heat of the summer and then pick up some in the fall as the temperatures start to cool.

The size of the herd

The next thing to worry about is the size of the herd you’ll plan to graze. The goal here seems rather simple in what it’s trying to accomplish, but rather difficult in actually accomplishing it. You should use as large herd as you can.

This will help you have a shorter grazing period all together and longer resting period as well. It will increase the stock density and help you incorporate new seeds faster.

Stock density

Stock density is another metric and grazing management principle to keep an eye on. It’s often said that the stock density is the most important tool you’ll have in your tool belt because it increases or lower all of the metrics that you want to impact.

It will also allow you to create at least somewhat uniform use of the pasture. That means that it will affect every patch of land in the same way and all the animals in the same way (at least roughly and at least as much as it’s possible).

What to monitor?

There are a few metrics that you’ll need to pay attention to in order to see how well your grazing management is going. These are:

-Regrowth meaning how fast your farm is re-growing its crops after all of them have been consumed in the grazing process.
-Manure is another metric to check out. It shows how much the animals have effected your land and how more fertile have they made it.
-You should also be aware of how much bare ground is there on your land.
-The amount of weeds you have on the land is also important to know.
-In the end you should also be aware of trends that appear with your production.

Conclusion

Grazing management is a process of using your land to feed the animals and in return improving the quality of that land in an organized way. It’s an important part of making sure your land is cultivated in an eco-friendly way.

There are a few basic principles based on which this is done. This includes: the size of the herd that you use, stock density, how long the resting periods are, and stocking rates of your herd. This is what you need to take into account when you feed your own animals.

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