Grazing management is an essential part of keeping livestock, as farmers depend on soil quality for efficient cattle grazing. It is therefore important to have a long term plan in place for grazing, in order to avoid soil damage.
It is crucial to stick to these principles, as they are the core of the process. If you do, you’ll be able to keep both your cattle and soil profitable for years to come.
The first and most simple principle is that you need to give the pasture time to rest. That’s the simplistic definition, but there’s much more to it than that. It can be difficult to determine how long the pasture should rest before resuming use–this is where soil monitoring technology comes in handy.
This also depends heavily on the overall climate of the area in which you are grazing, as it determines the time the field needs to recover.
Overgrazing is often misunderstood more than any other concept, and is often mixed up with the concept of severe grazing. Severe grazing isn’t necessarily a problem, but it should be done carefully, with special regard to the soil. Overgrazing, on the other hand, is something you should try your best to avoid.
There are two ways in which overgrazing occurs:
-Animals are left in paddock for too long. They re-graze the paddock before it’s prepared to be grazed again, and before the soil and the plants have time to recover.
-Animals are brought to the paddock too soon, and the effect is the same.
Stocking density is often referred to as stocking rate, but the two terms share many similarities. Stocking rate is the number of livestock grazing in a particular pasture. Stocking density is about the number of livestock that are grazing on a particular paddock.
If you have a quarter section of 160 acres, with 320 head of cattle, that means your stocking rate is 2 head per acre. When herding 320 cattle that are confined to a 10 acre paddock, that works out to roughly 32 head per acre. If the next paddock is only 3.2 acres in size, that would make a stocking density of 100 head per acre.
Monitoring refers to keeping track of your soil’s qualities, as well as your animals on a regular basis. There are a few facets in particular that you’ll need to keep track of.
-Regrowth, which is how fast plants are re=growing on the property you’ve already grazed.
-Manure, which also needs to be monitored in terms of how much there as as well as where it’s spread.
-Bare grounds should also be monitored, keeping track of their size and where they are located.
-Weeds are one of the worst things you could have on your grazing fields, and you need to know where they are as well as what specific weeds you are dealing with.
-Trends should be followed as well. These are simply long-term developments of the soil and its plant life.
Herd size is also something to monitor. When it comes to this, there’s much less nuance and problems to worry about, than there is with other facets of grazing.
Simply put, you want to maximize the size of the herd you are grazing at any one particular time. This allows you to get the most out of your pasture, and the most out of the work that needs to be put in. However, it can be somewhat difficult to figure out what the optimal herd size is for you. You’ll need to try different things to find what works best.
This is a science as well as an art, and you’ll need to keep learning about the process to improve it over time. It’s best if you manage to learn by doing, and adapting to your own mistakes. It can also be useful to stay in contact with other farmers, and share experiences about the job.
Grazing management is the process of organizing your grazing methods while ensuring that your cattle are secure and fed, and your soil isn’t damaged in the process. The practice is ancient in origins, but today relies heavily on modern technology and science.