What is in this article?:
- Rotational grazing versus continuous grazing
- Extend the grazing season
- Rotational grazing is a system where a large pasture is divided into smaller paddocks allowing livestock to be moved from one paddock to the other, allowing the grazed paddock a rest period for forages to initiate regrowth, renew carbohydrate stores, and improve yield.
Extend the grazing season
The disadvantages of rotational grazing include the need for more fence to be constructed, time required to move cattle, and the need to have water and access to shade from each smaller paddock. The use of temporary fence is an inexpensive way to divide fields into the smaller paddocks and can be moved based upon the producers’ preference.
Rotational grazing can help extend the grazing season, allowing a producer to rely less on stored feed and supplement. One of the most desirable attributes of this system is that a producer can design it to fit their needs. Rotational grazing allows a producer to be more in control of the timing and intensity of forage grazed by cattle.
For those wanting to start using this system try taking one pasture and dividing it in half to begin with. If you see an improvement, divide it again the next year, or try dividing another pasture in half. For those who use this method it may take several years to figure out exactly what works best . Using temporary fence materials and portable watering tanks allows a producer to experiment with different paddock sizes and watering systems.
The type of grazing system that is best suited for a given farm will depend on the goal of the producer and their resources. Rotational grazing allows a producer a better opportunity to use livestock to manage grasses, legumes, and weeds. Continuous grazing requires less input and labor.
Increased area per animal is required as the season advances into the hot summer months, when pasture regrowth slows down. This can be done either by moving cattle to another paddock, often hay fields are cycled into grazing rotation after first cutting, or reducing herd numbers in a continually grazed system. The key to making a grazing system work is managing the balance between production and use of forage throughout the year. To learn more about managed grazing, and how it is effective, join us at one of our upcoming events.