Managed Grazing Long Overdue For Most Beef Producers

Fodder for Thought

Effective grazing management is the key to beef operation sustainability.

Published on: June 14, 2012

It is becoming more apparent that challenges such as reduced land availability for grazing and drought are the new norm for farmers and ranchers.

All you have to do is look at the latest U.S. Drought Monitor Report to see that a large percentage of the country is facing some degree of drought conditions.

With these factors in place, the need to implement some form of rotational grazing practices on livestock farms and ranches is greater now more than ever. A properly managed rotational grazing system provides many benefits to both the land and livestock -- by increasing soil fertility, plant health and growth, and forage utilization by livestock.

Good managed grazing helps the forage and the cattle.
Good managed grazing helps the forage and the cattle.

With all that said however, rotational grazing still seems to be something that only “certain” farmers do. Driving through the countryside I come across a majority of cattle farms that are stuck in what I call the “continuous rut.” The telltale signs are overgrazed pastures and large bare areas caused from constant animal traffic near waterers and feeders. Livestock are never moved and have free run of pasture.

So I ask why this is so. Why do so many farmers not implement some form of a rotational grazing system? Is it time? Is it money? Or is it a lack of knowledge?

Whatever the reason, for the sustainability of our way of life we need address this. Effective and responsible grazing management through rotational, management intensive and holistic methods are vital to the sustainability of the beef industry.

In some instances, such as lack of land area, I can see how continuous grazing may be the only option for a farmer. However, in those instances I question whether the value of the available forage is even considered or just an afterthought.

I mean…we can always buy hay, right?

Either way, grass is not infinite and certainly not free. Our pastures are dynamic ecosystems and it’s high time we give them the care and attention they truly deserve. And in the end, you may be surprised to find that your cattle and forages thank you for it.

It’s a proven fact that increased forage utilization leads to an increase in beef output.