A project of the National Center for Appropriate Technology                             1-800-346-9140 • www.attra.ncat.or...
mechanically, storing it, and transporting it to                           the animals. Instead, the livestock are moved t...
as much as possible. A single strand of electric tape  An easy way to begin MiG                              and temporary...
hand, the need for harvested forages declines,                              resulting in less time spent making hay or sil...
Figure 1. Forage Growth Curve                                                          Pounds per acre per day            ...
not given adequate rest. Animals must be moved        Other than salt, the need for mineral supple-                       ...
Effects on the Animals                              for cool season grasses and legumes is approx-                        ...
A list of books on grazing is provided at the end                Grazing Lands Conservation Initiative (GLCI)             ...
Gerrish, J. 2004. Management-intensive Grazing: The Grass-References                                                      ...
The Stockman Grass Farmer                                             programs, which provide the knowledge and support fa...
Noteswww.attra.ncat.org   ATTRA   Page 11
Rotational Grazing                  By Alice E. Beetz and Lee Rinehart                  NCAT Agriculture Specialists, Nove...
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Rotational Grazing

  1. 1. A project of the National Center for Appropriate Technology 1-800-346-9140 • www.attra.ncat.orgRotational GrazingBy Alice E. Beetz Rotational grazing is a grazing management strategy characterized by periodical movement of livestockand Lee Rinehart to fresh paddocks to allow pastures time to regrow before they are grazed again. Some popular rotationalNCAT Agriculture grazing systems include Management-intensive Grazing, multiple-pasture rotation, and short-durationSpecialists grazing (Gerrish, 2004; Hanselka, et al., no date). Other names include cell grazing and controlled grazing.November 2004 There are slight differences between how practitioners of each type of system may describe how theyUpdated Sept. 2010 work, but they are all basically predicated on adequate rest periods to allow for adequate forage regrowth.© 2010 NCAT Rotational grazing requires skillful decisions and close monitoring of its consequences. Modern electric fencing and innovative water-delivery devices are important tools. Feed costs decline and animal health improves when animals harvest their own feed in a well-managed rotational grazing system. IncludedContents are lists of resources for further research and other ATTRA publications related to rotational grazing.Introduction ......................1Choosing a GrazingSystem ................................ 2Making the Change........ 3Fencing and WaterSystems ............................. 4Forage Growth ............... 5Managing ForageGrowth ............................... 5SeasonalAdjustments ..................... 6Effects on theAnimals .............................. 7Grazing Planningand Economics ............... 7InformationResources .......................... 7Conclusion ........................ 8References ....................... 9Resources .......................... 9 A well-designed rotational grazing system including a nice permanent lane and paddocks subdivided with electric polywire. Photo by Susan Schoenian. Introduction and forage produced on the farm. In addition, soil losses associated with highly erodible land Ruminants such as cattle, sheep, and goats can used for row crops decline when such land is convert plant fiber—indigestible to humans— converted to pasture. Besides these benefits,The National Sustainable into meat, milk, wool, and other valuable prod- rotating row crops into a year or two of pastureAgriculture Information Service,ATTRA (www.attra.ncat.org), ucts. Pasture-based livestock systems appeal to increases organic matter, improves soil structure,was developed and is managedby the National Center for farmers seeking lower feed and labor costs and and interrupts the life cycles of plant and live-Appropriate Technology (NCAT). to consumers who want alternatives to grain-fed stock pests. Livestock wastes also replace someThe project is funded througha cooperative agreement with meat and dairy products. The choice of a grazing purchased fertilizers.the United States Departmentof Agriculture’s Rural Business- system is key to an economically viable pasture-Cooperative Service. Visit the based operation. Because ruminants co-evolved with grasslandNCAT website (www.ncat.org/ ecosystems, they can meet their nutritionalsarc_current.php) formore information on Adding livestock broadens a farm’s economic needs on pasture. A profitable livestock operationour other sustainableagriculture and base, providing additional marketable products can be built around animals harvesting theirenergy projects. and offering alternative ways to market grains own feed. Such a system avoids harvesting feed
  2. 2. mechanically, storing it, and transporting it to the animals. Instead, the livestock are moved to Temperate pasture – Temperate pastures are the forage during its peak production periods. typically very productive. They are charac- terized by well-developed soils, medium to Producers manage the pasture as an important high pre cipitation, and moderate to rapid crop in itself, and the animals provide a way to nutrient cycling. They can be dominated market it. by warm- or cool-season plants and occupy Reduced feed and equipment costs and niches from Maine to Florida, from Texas to Minnesota, and from Southern CaliforniaRelated ATTRA improved animal health result from choosing to the Pacific Northwest coastal regions ofpublications species well-suited to existing pasture and envi- Washington and Oregon. ronmental conditions. In most operations, aPastures: Sustainable good fit between animals and available pasture Rangeland – According to the Society forManagement provides more net income. ATTRA’s publication Range Management, rangelands are a type of Ruminant Nutrition for Graziers goes into more land on which the natural vegetation is domi-Pasture, Rangeland, depth on this subject. nated by grasses, forbs and shrubs and theand Grazing land is managed as a natural ecosystem (SRM).Management Some animals will produce acceptable meat with In North America, rangelands include the grass-Pastures: little or no grain finishing. Marketing these lean lands of the Great Plains stretching from TexasGoing Organic meats directly to consumers is an opportunity to to Canada, from the prairie states of the Dakotas increase profits. Skilled managers who can con- and Nebraska, to the intermountain states andAssessing the the annual grasslands of California.Pasture Soil Resource sistently offer high-quality forage to their ani- mals, producing lean and tender meat, shouldPaddock Design, consider pursuing this market.Fencing, and high growth rates. But if overgrazing occurs,Water Systems for desirable plant growth rates will dwindle.Controlled Grazing Choosing a Grazing System Rotational (or controlled) grazing, on the otherA Brief Overview Continuous grazing, the most common graz- hand, increases pounds of animal productionof Nutrient Cycling ing system in the United States, often results per acre. How the system is managed influencesin Pastures in overgrazing and an increase of less-desirable the level of production, of course. In fact, Man- plant species. When livestock graze withoutNutrient Cycling agement-intensive Grazing (MiG) is another restriction, they eat the most palatable foragein Pastures term for rotational grazing. This term emphasizes first. If these plants are repeatedly grazed with- the intensity of the management rather than theConverting Cropland out allowing time for their roots to recover and intensity of the grazing.to Perennial Grassland leaves to regrow, they will die. Plants not eatenRuminant Nutrition by livestock mature and go to seed. Thus, popu- MiG is grazing and then resting severalfor Graziers lations of undesirable plants increase, while pre- pastures in sequence. The rest periods allow ferred plants are eliminated, reducing the qual- plants to recover before they are grazed again.Multispecies Grazing ity of the forage in a given pasture. Trampling Doubling the forage use is often possibleGrazing Networks for and animals’ avoidance of their own wastes by changing from continuous to controlledLivestock Producers further reduce the amount of usable forage. grazing. There is considerable profit potential for the producer willing to commit to an initialProtecting Riparian Continuous grazing has the benefit of low capi-Areas: Farmland capital investment and increased management tal investment, since fewer fencing and wateringManagement Strategies time (Kole, 1992). The producer can meet indi- facilities are required than with rotational graz- vidual animal gain or gain-per-acre goals withManaged Grazing ing systems. Because livestock are moved less sound management decisions.in Riparian Areas frequently from pasture to pasture, management decisions can be simpler. Some research demon- Faced with low milk prices, the potential lossDung Beetle Benefits strates that rotational grazing and continuous of price supports, and ever-rising costs, somein the Pasture Ecosystem grazing have similar effectiveness on rangelands dairy producers have changed to MiG to meet (Briske, et al., 2008). However, many range economic and quality-of-life goals. Some are pro- managers utilizing rotational grazing systems viding cows fresh paddocks after each milking. on rangeland have reported increased range Seasonal dairying—drying off the entire herd health and animal performance (Sayre, 2001). during times when pasture production is low— Continuous grazing frequently results in higher is often the next step, but it requires even more per-animal gains than other grazing systems, as skillful management and may not be as prof- long as adequate forage is available to maintain itable. For more information, see the ATTRAPage 2 ATTRA Rotational Grazing
  3. 3. as much as possible. A single strand of electric tape An easy way to begin MiG and temporary posts for interior paddocks instead It is often suggested, as an easy way to begin of permanent interior fencing is a good way to MiG, to subdivide existing pastures with one reduce infrastructure costs. or two fences (or simply close existing gates). Managing these simple divisions is a chance to try out a more controlled system and begin Making the Change learning this type of grazing management at When making a change in grazing manage- a basic level. If the new fences are electri- ment, a logical first step is an inventory of the fied high-tensile wire, animals will learn to farm’s resources. An aerial map of the farm respect them, and managers can practice han- is useful to mark fences, water supplies, and dling them. The manager’s observation skills existing forage resources. Writing down farm develop as the animals and forages adjust to and family goals in this process makes it easier the change. to stay on course with management decisions. However, Dave Pratt, CEO of Ranch Manage- When a salesperson is applying pressure, for ment Consultants, Inc., notes that starting instance, it helps to be able to evaluate the cost with what you have and building off it leads of the product against some chosen goal. to cumbersome and more costly designs in the long run. Instead, Dave counsels would-be gra- Implementing rotational grazing requires ziers to start from scratch and take a fresh look subdividing the land into paddocks, pro- at everything. The existing fences on a farm viding access to water, adjusting stock- were probably not laid out and constructed ing rates, and monitoring grazing duration. with rotational grazing in mind (Pratt, 2010). These decisions may seem overwhelming Starting with a ranch map that delineates soil at first. Some of the reference materials and vegetation types as well as annual forage listed at the end of this paper offer informa- productivity and designing a grazing system tion about setting up paddocks to fit the from the ground up will produce a much more landscape, calculating stocking rates, and workable system than constructing grazing paddocks piecemeal. estimating forage yield and availability. For more information, see ATTRA’s Introduction to Paddock Design, Fencing, and Water Systems for Controlled Grazing.publications Dairy Production on Pasture: AnIntroduction to Grass-Based and Seasonal Dairying The change to controlled grazing will haveand The Economics of Grass-Based Dairying. impacts on the animals, the plant community, and the farmers. Livestock operators who haveMiG can be used in many other operations as not monitored their livestock daily or weeklywell. Cow-calf and stocker operations benefit will feel the greater time demands. On the otherfrom increased forage and higher-quality feedunder MiG. Some graziers specialize in dairybeef or in raising replacement heifers for dairyoperations. When MiG is used with sheep and What do you expect to get from a rotational grazing enterprise?goats, fencing must be excellent in order to keepthe livestock in and the predators out. (Guard • Identify problems to overcome and opportunities you can take advantage ofanimals can enhance predator protection. Morein-depth information about guard animals is • List your on-farm assetsavailable from ATTRA.) – land – buildingsEconomically successful rotational grazing requires – livestock – machinerycareful analysis including whole-farm planning. – forages – sensitive areasLivestock require large capital expenditures relativeto their value, and being profitable with MiG on a – water (such as riparian areas)small scale is not guaranteed. This is because small – lanes – wildlifeoperations often don’t have the scale necessary tojustify the infrastructural improvements needed • Match your grazing goals to your resources to determine thefor intensive rotational grazing (Pratt, 2010). This feasibility of a rotational grazing enterprise.necessitates minimizing the cost of improvementswww.attra.ncat.org ATTRA Page 3
  4. 4. hand, the need for harvested forages declines, resulting in less time spent making hay or silage. Purchased feed costs also shrink. Economic benefits come from improved ani- mal health and increased production. Research confirms lower feed costs and fewer vet bills on most operations making this transition. Actual figures vary widely, depending on the profitability and forage condition under the old system. As the new system is fine-tuned, feed quality improves, quantity increases, and man- agement skills also grow. As a result, more ani- mals can be raised on the same acreage, translat- ing into more income for the farm. Permanent perimeter fences should be well It takes commitment to succeed in making the constructed to keep cattle off highways, away from change to MiG, a system requiring more com- riparian areas, or off the neighbor’s pastures. A plex management skills. Old ways of thinking single electric wire can run the length of the perimeter fence to provide a charge to temporary paddocks will need to shift as analytical and problem- wherever you need them. Photo courtesy USDA-NRCS. solving skills develop. The new grazier’s com- mitment will be tested by mistakes, unexpected weather patterns, and neighbors’ attitudes. Animals need to be trained in electric fences. Producers sometimes use a special paddock Fencing and Water Systems for introducing new stock into the system (fencing suppliers can furnish information). Rotational grazing requires additional fencing. Once animals learn to respect the electrified High-tensile electric fencing is cheaper and easier wire, it becomes a psychological rather than a to install than conventional fencing. Temporary physical barrier. as well as permanent electric fencing is available, and many producers use a combination of the Providing water is another capital requirement two. This equipment offers flexibility in manag- of rotational grazing systems. Experienced pro- ing animal and plant resources. ducers soon see the value of adequate water, and some regret that they did not invest more in the water system initially. Designing a water system for future expansion may be the best option for beginners with limited funds. Many producers use pipes and portable water- ers to create movable water systems and design permanent systems based on this experience. Flexibility in locating water within paddocks Polywire and polytape should be part of any final design, so the manager are essential for quicklyand efficiently setting up can control animal distribution and avoiding grazing paddocks. Con- trampling around the water source.ductive wires are braided into the polywire/tape Some paddocks have alleyways that give ani-and connected to a fence mals access to one water source from sev- charger to electrify the eral side-by-side paddocks. However, the area temporary fence. These around a permanent water source will suffer materials can easily be from heavy traffic. This heavy-use area tends to installed from a spool, accumulate nutrients and is a potential source ofsupported by temporarymetal or fiberglass posts, parasites, disease, and erosion. (Many producers to make paddock set-up see the same problems in any location where a quick job. Photo animals congregate, e.g., shade trees and courtesy USDA-NRCS. mineral sources.)Page 4 ATTRA Rotational Grazing
  5. 5. Figure 1. Forage Growth Curve Pounds per acre per day Weeks of growthWater sources should be strategically placed to ensureanimals have access from each paddock in the is low because of the small leaf area available tograzing cell. This permanent water source allows capture solar energy.access from a lane that leads to successive grazingpaddocks. Photo courtesy USDA-NRCS. During phase two, plants grow rapidly because leaf area is increasing. Toward the end of this growth phase, forage growth is near its peak,Heavy livestock traffic around ponds, springs, and it is of high quality. This lush and abundantor streams can destroy vegetation. Piping water forage is ideal for grazing.away from these sources or limiting animals’access results in higher-quality water for them, The transition from phase two to phase threeand it benefits wildlife habitat. Some producers marks the beginning of reproduction and slowerreport economic benefits from providing cool, plant growth. Lower leaves begin to die as theyhigh-quality water, though little research exists. are shaded out by those above. Plant resources are used for reproduction rather than moreMineral blocks are typically placed near the growth, and forage quality declines.water supply, but excessive use of the area canlead to the problems mentioned above. Placingthe minerals away from water or other gathering Managing Forage Growthareas helps redistribute the animals’ impact and The grazier manages this forage growth-curveavoids overuse of any one area. Dispensing solu- to keep pastures producing a maximum amountble minerals in the water is another alternative. of high-quality forage. Decisions about movingFor more information on fencing and water, see animals from paddock to paddock are based onATTRA’s Paddock Design, Fencing, and Water the amount of forage available, size of paddocks,Systems for Controlled Grazing. and estimated seasonal growth rates. The num- ber and nutritional needs of the livestock mustForage Growth also be figured into this balance.How much pasture area to offer animals and After each grazing period, if adequate leaf areahow long to keep them there are critical deci- is left for photosynthesis, plants quickly replacesions for a successful grazier. These decisions leaves lost without depleting root reserves. Theinfluence the amount and quality of forage animals are moved to fresh, succulent pastureavailable throughout the grazing season. before plants are overgrazed. Thus, the plants and animals both benefit from good grazingFigure 1 shows the natural progression of forage management.growth through three stages. Phase one is thefirst growth in the spring or the time required for Many desirable plants, including legumes andregrowth after extreme defoliation. Photosynthesis native grasses, disappear from pastures that arewww.attra.ncat.org ATTRA Page 5
  6. 6. not given adequate rest. Animals must be moved Other than salt, the need for mineral supple- after three to five days, maximum, to prevent ments is likewise difficult to determine. If soil them from grazing these plants’ regrowth. tests show that micronutrients are missing, they can be added to the mineral mix. However, some If not removed from the area, livestock will pref- may be present in the soil but unavailable to the erentially graze certain forages and deplete root plants. Adjusting pH often remedies this. While reserves, thus killing the most palatable forage some consultants argue that missing micronu- species. Uncontrolled grazing thus eliminates trients should be applied to the soil so they can desirable species and maintains those that can be eaten as plant material, mineral supplements tolerate repeated defoliation, such as tall fescue. are often the most economical solution. Minerals Management-intensive Grazing encourages not removed by grazing will cycle with other a wide variety of plants in the pasture. Plant nutrients in the pasture as the years go by. diversity increases in adequately rested pastures. Plants adapted to the varied soil and mois- Seasonal Adjustments ture conditions of the landscape thrive in their Rotational grazing gives the livestock manager microclimates. Animals can graze plants during flexibility in responding to the changing forage their seasons of maximum palatability. supply. During periods of rapid plant growth,M anagement- Livestock will, in fact, eat many weeds in their cattle are moved quickly through paddocks. intensive vegetative stage, some of which are good feed. Alternatively, if equipment is available or the By eating weeds such as dandelions, quack- work can be hired, excess forage can be har- Grazing vested for feeding later. During periods of slow grass, redroot pigweed, and lambsquartersencourages a wide when they are young and tender, grazing ani- plant growth, delayed rotation allows plants invariety of plants in mals keep both annuals and perennials from each paddock a longer time to recover after eachthe pasture. going to seed. These plants have been shown to grazing period. have feed values that compare favorably with Various strategies or specialized forages can oats (Marten, 1978). delay having to feed harvested forages. In late Dairy or fast-growing meat animals will need fall, stockpiled fescue or other winter grasses energy or fiber supplementation at certain times can be strip-grazed. Grain and stalks left in of the season, depending on what they can corn or milo fields after harvest, offered as graze for themselves. Since what livestock eat is strips, provide another source of good-qual- different from a random profi le of the plants ity feed into the winter months. Small grains, in the pasture, forage samples or harvested grown alone or with brassicas, are a third forage tests will not exactly reflect true animal option in some parts of the country for extend- intake. It is, therefore, difficult for the manager ing the grazing season. to know whether protein or energy supplemen- In some regions, providing excellent grazing tation is economically justified. There are rules through the hottest summer months is the big- of thumb, though. For example, high-produc- gest challenge. Native grasses, summer annuals, ing dairy cattle will likely need energy supple- and interseeded legumes can offset this slump. mentation when on high-quality cool-season However, the costs of establishment—in time pasture, to help them maintain body condi- and money—are justified only if the result- tion and adequately metabolize the protein they ing increase in livestock production translates are getting from the forages. In addition, high- into sufficient profit. A good resource for learn- producing cattle on warm-season forages such ing more about extending the grazing season as Bermudagrass may need protein supple- with alternative forage systems is the Extending mentation, especially in the dormant season Grazing and Reducing Stored Feed Needs, by when protein content is low in the forages. Don Ball, Ed Ballard, Mark Kennedy, Garry Protein supplementation also increases the rate of Lacefield, and Dan Undersander, available passage of forage in the animal’s rumen, thereby online at www.agrypurdue.edu/Ext/forages/pdf/ increasing forage utilization. Supplementation ExtendingGrazing-Auburn.pdf. The ATTR A on pasture is therefore a matter of providing publications, Pastures: Sustainable Management extra nutrients to make up deficiencies, and not and Pasture, Rangeland, and Grazing Manage- as a substitution for the forage that is there. ment, provide further information on this subject.Page 6 ATTRA Rotational Grazing
  7. 7. Effects on the Animals for cool season grasses and legumes is approx- imately 15 to 30 days, depending on theMultiple paddocks make access and handling eas- season. For warm season grasses, the restier. Cattle become easier to work when they see period is 20 to 40 days, again depending on thepeople as the source of fresh pasture. Managers season. Rest periods are important for calculatingwho observe their animals frequently can identify the size and number of paddocks.and treat health problems in their early stages. These factors, as well as other planning factorsIf just beginning an animal operation, the such as paddock layout, size, and numbers, andproducer should choose a breed adapted to the how many animals a paddock will support, areclimate and grazing system or pick individual addressed in the Minnesota Extension publi-animals with good performance records on cation Grazing Systems Planning Guide, andpasture. Some types of animals, even within a is available online at www.extension.umn.edu/breed, can better use high-quality forage, and distribution/livestocksystems/DI7606.html or byothers are better adapted to low-quality range- calling 800-876-8636. In addition, the NRCSlands. Some tolerate legumes without bloating. Grazing Lands team has many online tools andThere is as much variation among individuals publications to assist producers in documentingwithin the breeds as between breeds. To some a grazing plan. The NRCS Grazing Lands web- Cextent, animals learn grazing skills (Forbes, site is www.glti.nrcs.usda.gov. ulling1995). Therefore, animals that have been raised animals that As with any agricultural enterprise, an analysison pasture—especially those from a controlled don’t adapt is of the economics of the operation is crucial ingrazing system—are desirable. In an estab- the planning process. A budget for a grazing essential to achieving alished herd, culling animals that don’t adapt is operation should take into account the capital profitable grass-basedessential to achieving a profitable grass-based improvements as well as the yearly inputs tolivestock system. livestock system. operate the enterprise. The ATTRA publication Grazing Contracts for Livestock includes budgetGrazing Planning spreadsheets that are useful for budgeting costsand Economics associated with a grazing operation.A grazing plan helps producers visualize andanticipate the various changes that occur during Information Resourcesthe grazing season. Some of the factors to track A host of published and electronic informationin a grazing plan include grazing land inventory, about rotational grazing is available to producers.such as number of acres, number of paddocks, The Stockman Grass Farmer (SGF) is an excellentand forage yield. Forage yield can be expressed monthly publication for news about alternativein pounds per acre per inch. For most pastures, forages and innovative management strategies,you can expect a yield in the range of 150 to 350 as well as for discussions among practitioners ofpounds per acre per inch, depending on forage management-intensive grazing. In addition, thedensity. Your local NRCS office will likely have commercial and classified ads offer many ser-data on forage yields for your area. vices, including grazing workshops and suppliesKnowing the forage requirements of grazing that may be difficult to obtain locally. Supplierslivestock is necessary for successful grazing and their salespeople often serve as consultants,planning. This is basically the number of having practical experience of many grazinganimals you are grazing times their average operations. A free sample issue of SGF is avail-weight times their daily utilization rate. Daily able to those who call or write to request it.utilization rate is the animal’s forage dry mat- Graze is another outstanding monthly publica-ter intake expressed as a percent of the animal’s tion that includes articles on all aspects of graz-body weight. Beef cattle consume 2 to 3 per- ing, pasture management, and marketing. In acent of their body weight per day, whereas dairy regular feature, five or more “grazing advisors”cattle consume 2.5 to 4.5 percent of their body answer a question posed by the editor. Theseweight per day. advisors, each an active grazing operationRest periods for various grasses and legumes manager, represent a variety of livestock typesare important for grazing planning. Rest periods and geographical locations.www.attra.ncat.org ATTRA Page 7
  8. 8. A list of books on grazing is provided at the end Grazing Lands Conservation Initiative (GLCI) of this publication. If local libraries and book- has a website that lists State GLCI Coordinators stores are unable to get them, any issue of The and Grazing Lands Personnel, available at www. Stockman Grass Farmer has an ordering form for glci.org/StateGLCI.htm. The site includes a map many of them. and list of designated GLCI grazing specialists H o l i s t i c M a n a g e m e n t ™ (w w w . h o l i s t i c for each state. management.org) is a decision-making process There are many agricultural discussion groups initially used for livestock management on on the Internet covering a wide range of topics. range. Now the model is being used by many Internet discussion groups operate via e-mail. farmers and ranchers to evaluate options as they Listserves receive and distribute postings. When plan for changes to their operations. Holistic you subscribe, your name gets added to the Management International can refer producers mailing list. If you wish to post to the discussion to state organizations and regional representa- group, you only need to send one e-mail, and tives, who can in turn provide information and the listserve will send it to all members. Sub- contacts with practitioners. After initial train- scribing to newsgroups is a simple and painless ing courses, Holistic Management practitioners process, and it is free. There are lists associated often form management clubs to further their with most ruminant breeds. A search engine understanding and learning as they apply holis- such as Yahoo! can help locate lists on the Web. tic management principles. See the ATTR A publication Holistic Management: A Whole-Farm Decision Making Framework. Conclusion Management-intensive Grazing is not for every Many land-grant universities have materi- producer. It will not instantly provide wealth als about rotational grazing that are specific to and leisure or solve all the problems livestock their states. Workshops and videos on Manage- ment-intensive Grazing may be available as well. producers face. Some experienced graziers say it Check with local Extension offices regarding takes three years of observation and manipula- such resources. tion of soil, plant, and animal resources to really begin to manage them well. During these years The Natural Resources Conservation Service there will be countless challenges and necessary (NRCS) has grazing specialists in each state adjustments. Every attempt to prepare for poten- to help farmers improve their grazing manage- tial problems will make the transition smoother. ment. Your county NRCS office can refer you to An assumption that the system can continually the grazing specialist in your area. be improved will help the manager to identify weak areas early. Being alert for difficulties ensures that they can be addressed before they become serious. Nevertheless, those producers who have made the change to MiG report many benefits, including increased net income and improved quality of life. In groups of these innovative gra- ziers, one is struck by the enthusiasm and cre- ativity they bring to the management of their particular pasture systems. They observe the results of their decisions and are constantly fine- tuning their systems to meet their production and family goals. Acknowledgment:Rotational grazing systems provide producers with the ability to match available Special thanks to Dave Pratt, CEO of Ranchforage to daily livestock forage demand, resulting in increased productivity and Management Consultants, for providing technicalthe maintenance of resilient pastures. Photo courtesy USDA-NRCS. review of this publication.Page 8 ATTRA Rotational Grazing
  9. 9. Gerrish, J. 2004. Management-intensive Grazing: The Grass-References roots of Grass Farming. Ridgeland, MS: Green Park Press.Briske, D.D., J.D. Derner, J.R. Brown, S.D. Fuhlendorf, Heitschmidt, Rodney K., and Jerry W. Stuth. 1991. Graz-W.R. Teague, K.M. Havstad, R.L. Gillen, A.J. Ash, and ing Management: An Ecological Perspective. Timber Press,W.D. Willms. 2008. Rotational Grazing on Rangelands: Portland, OR. 259 p. Available online at: http://cnrit.tamu.Reconciliation of Perception and Experimental Evidence. edu/rlem/textbook/textbook-fr.htmlRangeland Ecology and Management 61:3-17, January. Hodgson, John. 1990. Grazing Management: Science intoForbes, J.M. 1995. Voluntary Food Intake and Diet Selec- Practice. Longman Handbooks in Agriculture. John Wileytion in Farm Animals. CAB International, Wallingford, & Sons, NY. 203 p. www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/England. p. 353. B6T3W-49NPSNP-6Y/2/206976fae0f39eaff 558013aa80Gerrish, J. 2004. Management-intensive Grazing: The Grass- 15b15roots of Grass Farming. Ridgeland, MS: Green Park Press. Hodgson, J., and A.W. Illius (eds.). 1996. The EcologyHanselka, W., B.J. Ragsdale, and B. Rector. No date. Graz- and Management of Grazing Systems. CAB International.ing Systems for Profitable Ranching. College Station: Texas Wallingford, U.K. 466 p.AgriLIFE Extension. http://animalscience.tamu.edu/images/ Murphy, Bill. 1998. Greener Pastures on Your Side of thepdf/beef/beef-grazing-systems.pdf Fence: Better Farming With Voisin Grazing ManagementKole, Glenn. 1992. We compared herds in confinement and (4th ed.). Arriba Publishing, Colchester, VT. 379 p.herds that graze. Hoard’s Dairyman. Vol. 138, No. 2. p. 47. Rattray, P.V., I.M. Brooks, and A.M. Nicol (Eds). 2007.Marten, Gordon C. 1978. The animal-plant complex in Pasture and Supplements for Grazing Animals. Occasionalforage palatability phenomena. Journal of Animal Science. Publication No. 14. New Zealand Society of Animal Production. Hamilton, NZ. http://nzsap.org.nz/sap131.htmlVol. 46, No. 5. p. 1476. Savory, Allan, with Jody Butterfield. 1999. Holistic Man-Pratt, Dave. 2010. Ranch Management Consultants. agement: A New Framework for Decision Making. IslandPersonal communication. Press, Covelo, CA. 616 p. http://holisticmanagement.org/Sayre, N. 2001. The New Ranch Handbook: A Guide to store//page1.htmlRestoring Western Rangelands. Santa Fe, NM: The QuiviraCoalition. Periodicals with a Grazing FocusSRM. No date. Rangeland Resources of North America. The Forage LeaderLakewood, CO: Society for Range Management. American Forage and Grassland Council 350 Poplar Avenue Elmhurst, IL 60126Resources 800-944-2342 630-359-4274 FAXGrazing Books www.afgc.orgTry searching for these books at online bookstores, libraries, info@afgc.orgor from the websites listed. A membership benefit; membership cost $30/yr.Ball, Donald M., Carl S. Hoveland, and Garry D. Lacefield. Graze2007. Southern Forages, 4th Ed. International Plant Nutri- P.O. Box 48tion Institute , Norcross, GA. 332 p. Available for $35 from: Belleville, WI 53508 608-455-3311International Plant Nutrition Institute www.grazeonline.comSuite 110 graze@grazeonline.com655 Engineering Drive $30 for 1-year subscriptionNorcross GA 30092(770) 447-0335 Hay & Forage Growerhttp://ppi-store.stores.yahoo.net/soutfor.html 7900 International Drive, Suite 300 Minneapolis, MN 55425Barnes, Robert F., Darrell A. Miller, and C. Jerry Nelson 952-851-9329(eds.). 2007. Forages: An Introduction to Grassland Agri- 952-851-4601 FAXculture. 6th ed. Vols. 1. and 2. Iowa State University Press, http://hayandforage.comAmes, IA. hfg@penton.comwww.attra.ncat.org ATTRA Page 9
  10. 10. The Stockman Grass Farmer programs, which provide the knowledge and support farm-P.O. Box 2300 ers and ranchers need to improve their land, their lives, andRidgeland, MS 39158-9911 their bottom line.800-748-9808 (toll-free) Tom Trantham’s Twelve Aprils Grazing Program601-853-8087 FAX www.southernsare.uga.edu/twelve/trantham.htmlhttp://stockmangrassfarmer.net Tom Trantham’s Twelve Aprils grazing program has beensgf@stockmangrassfarmer.com part of three Southern Region SARE projects. Tom has influ- $32/yr enced scores of experienced and beginning dairy farmersHolistic Management In Practice through presentations at conferences and magazine stories.The Savory Center This on-line manual addresses the most common questions1010 Tijeras Ave. NW about his system.Albuquerque, NM 87102 Pastures for Profit: A Guide to Rotational Grazing, by505-842-5252 Dan Undersander, Beth Albert, Dennis Cosgrove, Denniswww.holisticmanagement.org Johnson, and Paul Peterson. Cooperative Extensionhmi@holisticmanagement.org Publishing, University of Wisconsin-Extension. 2002. free newsletter http://learningstore.uwex.edu/pdf/A3529.pdfWeb-Based Publications on Fencing and Grazing Systems Planning GuideWater Systems from USDA-NRCS www.extension.umn.edu/distribution/livestocksystems/DI7606.html A step-by-step guide to planning a grazing system, includingElectric Fencing for Serious Graziers. Columbia, MO: inventory of resources, goal setting, designing fencing andMissouri Natural Resources Conservation Service. 2005. water systems, forage requirements, and grazing system monitoring.www.mo.nrcs.usda.gov/news/pubs_download/out/MO%20NRCS%20Electric%20Fencing_low.pdf Extending Grazing and Reducing Stored Feed Needs, by Don Ball, Ed Ballard, Mark Kennedy, Garry Lacefield, andWatering Systems for Serious Graziers. Columbia, MO: Dan Undersander. Grazing Lands Conservation InitiativeMissouri Natural Resources Conservation Service. 2006. Publication. 2008.www.mo.nrcs.usda.gov/news/pubs_download/out/ www.agry.purdue.edu/Ext/forages/pdf/ExtendingGrazing-Watering%20Systemslow.pdf Auburn.pdfSelected Web Resources on Grazing, Rangeland Health and Planned Grazing Field Guide by Nathan Sayre and Kirk Gadzia. A Joint Publication fromForages, and Pasture Management Earth Works Institute, The Quivira Coalition and the RioMany resources are now available on the Internet. Several Puerco Management Committee. Fourth Edition - April 2009excellent resources that are applicable to most regions of the US http://quiviracoalition.org/images/pdfs/77-Planned_Grazing_are listed below. Also, be sure to check the websites of nearby Field_Guide.pdfland-grant universities. They often contain information use-ful to both the beginner and the experienced grazier. Note that Rangelands Westthese addresses change often. http://rangelandswest.org Provides access to many sources of information on rangelandRanch Management Consultants, Inc. management, including the Extension sites of the western land-953 Linden Ave, Fairfield, CA 94533 grant universities.707-429-2292www.ranchmanagement.com/index.html American Forage and Grassland Council Provides high-quality education and support programs such www.afgc.org as the Ranching For Profit School and Executive Link Off ers membership, conferences, and publications.Page 10 ATTRA Rotational Grazing
  11. 11. Noteswww.attra.ncat.org ATTRA Page 11
  12. 12. Rotational Grazing By Alice E. Beetz and Lee Rinehart NCAT Agriculture Specialists, November 2004 Updated 2010, © 2010 NCAT Holly Michels, Editor Amy Smith, Production This publication is available on the Web at: www.attra.ncat.org/attra-pub/rotgraze.html or www.attra.ncat.org/attra-pub/PDF/rotgraze.pdf IP086 Slot 47 Version 101410Page 12 ATTRA