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  • What is rotational grazing and what are the benefits?
    Rotational grazing is a livestock management strategy that involves dividing a pasture into smaller sections or paddocks and systematically moving animals through these paddocks in a planned sequence. The goal of rotational grazing is to optimize forage utilization, promote pasture health, and improve overall livestock productivity. This method contrasts with continuous or set-stocking grazing, where animals have unrestricted access to an entire pasture for an extended period. Here's a breakdown of how rotational grazing typically works: - Division of Pasture: The pasture is divided into smaller paddocks using temporary or permanent fencing. (in our case - permanent) The size and number of paddocks (23) depend on factors such as the type of forage, the number of animals (approx 60 cows, 3 bulls and 62 calves) , size of property (375 acres) and the desired grazing period (2-3days). - Scheduled Moves: Livestock are moved from one paddock to another on a scheduled basis. The frequency of moves can vary based on factors like forage growth rate, pasture size, and the number of animals. - Rest and Recovery: After the cattle have grazed a paddock, it is given a rest period to allow the vegetation to recover. This promotes healthier and more vigorous regrowth of forage plants, preventing overgrazing and maintaining pasture quality. Fun fact - grazed pasture grows 7 times quicker than cut pasture. So it's better to use livestock to regenerate the paddock, than to use man made equipment like slashing. - Improved Forage Utilization: Rotational grazing ensures that animals consume a higher percentage of available forage in each paddock before moving to the next. This optimizes forage utilization and helps prevent selective grazing, where animals preferentially eat certain plants. - Weed and Pest Control: Regular rotation can help manage weeds and control pests. By moving animals through different paddocks, the grazing pressure disrupts weed growth, and it can break pest life cycles. A tick's life cycle is 28 days. If the paddock is rested for longer than 28 days, it helps reduce the tick load on the livestock. We empty troughs once the cattle move to the next paddock. This is to discourage wildlife and wild dogs using our property for feeding or passing through. - Soil Health Improvement: Rotational grazing has benefits for soil health. It reduces soil compaction and erosion, encourages the distribution of manure across the pasture more evenly, and promotes the growth of a diverse range of forage species including dung beetles, which process the dung and reduce the available dung for flies to lay lavae in, reducing the fly load on the cattle. - Water Management: Adequate water sources are strategically placed within or near each paddock to ensure that animals have access to fresh water at all times. We changed all the fire pumps to solar. Water is pumped from the dams to a feeder tank. - Increased Productivity: By managing pasture resources more efficiently, rotational grazing can contribute to increased livestock productivity, including improved weight gain, better reproductive performance, and overall herd health. Overall, rotational grazing is a sustainable and holistic approach to pasture management that seeks to balance the needs of livestock with the health and productivity of the land.
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