See Mob Grazing Results Here

Beefs and Beliefs

I mob graze calves and post photos and my thoughts on performance.

Published on: October 27, 2011

I started mob grazing a mixed group of 20 steers and heifers just over a week ago and so far I'm convinced things are going well.

I'm trying to strike a balance between reasonable performance and optimum number of days grazing; two antagonistic factors.

Overall, the cattle seem to be staying full and gaining some weight. Their dung has remained, on the average, in that moderately firm, slightly greasy but not runny state. Sometimes they run into the new paddocks and buck and kick, showing they feel really good. Sometimes they don't. These are the key components I'm using to determine whether the animals are gaining as well as they can under the situation.

In fact, the highest levels of mob grazing strike me as always being difficult to manage for the highest performance, but I believe I've seen the advantages gained outweigh the disadvantages. Specifically, you prepare the ground for better performance later and you produce a high level of beef per acre because you harvest so much forage and you're constantly giving the cattle fresh forage.

I'm posting a series of pictures here from the lowest stock density I've used on a very dense patch of primarily fescue because I think the results are easier to see than on some of the junky mixed paddocks I'm grazing the most right now.

This paddock started at 8 a.m. in the morning at 180,000 pounds stock density.

Forage height going in probably averaged 8-10 inches, but is laid down some because we're really dry. Arguably, that may be providing higher quality despite lower yield.

 

Here's the paddock after five hours of grazing.

 

Note it's down to a couple inches average standing forage.



But also notice how nicely the litter is mashed/trampled down. Together with the dung and especially the urine distribution I should be protecting the soil and feeding the microbes when we finally get some rain.

Just for a reference, here's a picture of the transition line to the next paddock of fescue on the right and the one they just came out of on the left.

 


Here's an example of dung condition, with the fresh green ones just about perfect and the hours-old pat a little too runny when it fell.




They'll be moving back into some junky, abused paddocks this afternoon. In fact, as I write this they're preparing to go into one that's about half goldenrod. I'll shoot photos before and after and post them. I think I'll get some great trampling there at stock density of about 400,000 pounds. They won't stay there long, but they did some real damage to the edge of that little goldenrod colony in the paddock just to the west.

Stay tuned.