Different grazing strategies for livestock producers - AgriWebb

Different grazing strategies for livestock producers

Different grazing strategies for livestock producers

To get the most from your pastures, you need a well-considered grazing strategy. When deciding the grazing strategy that works for your operation, there are a number of factors to consider:

  • the needs of your livestock
  • the quality of your pasture
  • your land management goals
  • labour and infrastructure costs

You can use the following grazing strategies separately or simultaneously. Understanding their benefits and downfalls is key to selecting the most suitable approach for your operation and pastures. 

Common grazing strategies

Continuous grazing

The simplest grazing system, continuous grazing involves leaving animals in the same paddock for most of the season. The stocking rate is generally calculated so that the same amount of livestock are kept throughout the year (set stocking), with any shortfall in pastures covered by supplementary feeding. 

Benefits:

  • low infrastructure costs
  • minimal labour
  • reasonable animal gains

Disadvantages:

  • uneven grazing patterns
  • variable nutrition
  • uneven manure distribution

Rotational grazing

Rotational grazing sees several smaller paddocks stocked at a higher density, and livestock rotated through these paddocks. A simple way to trial the system is to divide a single paddock into four smaller paddocks with temporary electric fences – stock rotate through each paddock over eight weeks, so each paddock is grazed for two weeks and rested for six.

Benefits:

  • pasture is grazed when it’s more nutritious
  • pasture recovers between grazings 

Disadvantages:

  • more water and fencing infrastructure
  • more labour intensive

Time-control grazing or cell grazing

A more intense form of rotational grazing, time-control or cell grazing can see stock moved as frequently as every day. Movements are driven by the rate of plant growth rather than a set calendar and vary throughout the season.

Benefits:

  • pasture is grazed at its most nutritious
  • pasture recovers between grazing periods
  • the system is flexible 

Disadvantages:

  • increased infrastructure costs
  • labour intensive
  • more management expertise needed

Strip grazing

A way to restrict grazing within a larger paddock, strip grazing uses temporary fencing to contain stock. After a section is grazed, the strip is moved to open up more pasture. Back fencing is also required to prevent overgrazing and soil damage.

Benefits:

  • pasture is grazed at its most nutritious
  • easy to implement on a temporary basis

Disadvantages:

  • labour intensive
  • increased infrastructure costs

Tactical grazing

Tactical grazing can be summed up as “all of the above”, and uses a range of grazing strategies. The approach may change within a year or across a series of years, depending on animal and pasture objectives at the time.

Benefits:

  • doesn’t require a complete commitment
  • enables flexibility throughout production

Disadvantages:

  • can be complex for less experienced managers
  • requires deep knowledge of local conditions
Greg Bradfield with Phone in Paddock

Using data to skyrocket your grazing management

Whatever grazing system you use, it’s crucial to maintain reliable records of both your stock movements and the condition of your pastures. Combining this with your production outcomes will provide valuable insights into your grazing systems. It will also enable you to manage your pastures even more productively into the future.

Using AgriWebb, a Grazing Plan is easily created each time livestock is moved into a paddock, and the Insights feature lets you know exactly what is happening in your paddocks, in real-time. Accessed through the Farm Map, you’ll get information such as your stocking rate, feed on-offer (FOO) and grazing days remaining.

To discover all the AgriWebb features that assist with grazing management, sign up for a free trial now.

Hannah Powter
AgriWebb

Comments

  1. Hi , in my operation I practice cell grazing rotating through up to 60 paddocks making it rather intensive. Having grazing days left and notifications when to move mobs on my mobile device is just what I need to complete agriwebb for me. The other feature would be to have notifications from my planner sent to my mobile on a daily basis.

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