In Brief: The Benefits Of Planned Rotational Grazing

What is “Rotational Grazing”?

The grazing animals are kept in as small of an area as possible while still keeping them happy and not overcrowded. This small area is moved around within a larger area very regularly. The exact timing of the movement from one area to the next area depends on the grazing plan, but is usually about one or two days. The area has fencing to keep the animals in and a basic portable shelter which is moved with the animals . The animals only need enough shelter to mimic their natural environment (for goats, dry-land animals, that means shelter from the rain, for pigs, forest animals, that means access to shade) if you are rotating them regularly. Cows do not need any shelter.

High-Density Grazing at B-C Ranch, SK, Canada

Advantages

  • Huge increase in forage production per acre, with no additional inputs. Most people double their forage production in the first few years after adopting rotational grazing. Depending on the climate and intensity of management 200-300% increases in forage production can be expected.
  • Huge reduction of animal parasites and diseases because animals are not constantly living near their own feces, by the time they return to an area their feces (and all the parasites in it) have decomposed.

  • Increased animal nutrition because animals have access to a wider variety of plants, and the plants can be allowed to recover and reach maximum nutritional content before the animals are allowed to eat them.

  • Reduced need for supplemental feed in winter (as long as you do not have ice, or more than 2ft of snow) because tall grass can be stockpiled for winter grazing

  • Reduced need for supplemental feed during the dry season
  • No need to move manure or change bedding, the manure will just decompose where it fell and help the soil in that area.

  • Increased plant health because plants are given a chance to recover after being eaten

  • Increased soil health because under proper management the animals will only eat about 50% of the plants in the area… the rest they will trample to the ground, this plant material will protect the soil and eventually decompose, building soil in the process

  • Far less smell unpleasant smells, feces are not allowed to build up in one area

  • Increased biodiversity because plants that cannot withstand constant grazing, but can withstand occasional grazing, will be able to grow

  • protecting delicate plants is much easier because you only need to protect them for the short amount of time that the animals are around them

  • happier animals, animals like new things and getting to move to a brand new area almost every day keeps them very happy

  • this system mimics what these animals would do in their natural environment (constantly move around to fresh areas) and in my experience moving closer to the natural way of things usually brings tons of benefits for the entire ecosystem

Disadvantages

    • More watering points need to be provided. However efficient fence systems can cut the number of watering points needed by half or more.

    • Extra labour; the animals must be moved frequently. However efficient systems reduce the labour involved (moving 5000 cows to a new pasture can easily be accomplished in 30 minutes, for example)

References/ Resources

Alan Savory: The primary genius behind rotational grazing

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vpTHi7O66pI

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uEAFTsFH_x4

“Holistic Management” is his revolutionary book

Joel Salatin: The face of rotational grazing.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EbJc8i5B9RU

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JjBtZxlkEDw

Greg Judy:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=W6HGKSvjk5Q

Gabe Brown:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9yPjoh9YJMk

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *