Rotational grazing is a concept that has similar benefits to rotating farm crops. When an area is constantly sucked of its nutrients, it can have a harder time naturally restoring itself. The same can be said for grazing fields. However, livestock prefer eating premature new crops instead of grazing in areas that haven’t been touched.
That’s why rotational grazing and creating a herd migration in your farm pasture is a great idea. Free range is still a concept, but you may notice that the landscape has continued to change in pastures.
When you drive by a farm now and see tons of fences, this is likely to create herd migration. Farmers are taking advantage of the benefits. Here is why you should too.
Benefits of Rotational Grazing
Training cattle to graze is not usually an immediate thought. But the benefits are similar if you train a pet. A healthier lifestyle makes for a healthier pasture. The cattle are typically moved when two to three inches are left. Then they can move on to the next pasture, which should be around six to eight inches.
1. Fresh Food
Having healthy cattle is the priority for any farmer. When you use herd migration tactics, you are constantly moving them to fresh grass. In turn, the cattle will eat grass with the most nutrients, as opposed to an area that is overused and struggling to come back.
The cycle by which an area is grazed depends on the farmer. Some producers prefer for a cycle to last seven days. Others may go every few hours. The latter requires a lot more dedication and nurturing. There will be more soil turnover and watering with quicker cycles which is unideal. Sometimes a quick turnaround can defeat the “green impact.”
2. Environmentally Friendly
A farmer who does rotational grazing right is a farmer who is more environmentally friendly. The earth needs its time to run through its own cycles. Longer rotational grazing cycles can allow that part of the earth to recover naturally.
This is something where technology has also played a heavy role in recent farming strategies. Climates that are unpredictable may not always allow for soil recovery. However, new trends such as food technology and hydroponics offer different solutions. Fencing is not all that different.
When farmers need more water, soil, and other materials to turn the area over quicker, they use more resources. This is less efficient. Keeping your land sustainable is a big part of reducing costs and keeping the cattle healthy.
3. Group Meals
When no fences are in place to help control the migration, cattle can roam wherever. The results lead to difficulty maintaining the land. There are likely to be splotches of overused land while others go untouched. When herds graze together, the likelihood of erosion is much less.
It also allows you to collect more grass because of the abundance you’ll receive from having healthy pastures. With a decent stockpile, you can cut costs by not having to buy more hay. A double benefit as it comes back to sustainability and cost efficiency.
Erosion can also have an impact on crops. Some land is used for crop rotation and later for grazing to let it recover. Erosion and weeds don’t allow for the area to be easily manicured back to a crop-ready zone. Soil with correct pH levels is key and not always easy to cultivate.
4. Healthy Habits
Cattle in a controlled environment struggle less with portion eating than those who roam free. The fertility of the cattle, regardless of whether it be for dairy or beef, is important. The healthier the cattle are, the better chance for a longer life. This is more profitable for farmers as the longevity of the animal impacts product and sales.
Interestingly enough, cattle who are confined can develop unhealthy feet and legs. This is one of the leading causes of poor longevity in cattle. When they move on a schedule and get exercise, they end up much healthier and happier.
It’s also important for today’s consumers to shop for ethically sourced products. The movement for no animal cruelty has continued to progress. Ensuring that your cattle are happy and healthy is important for humanitarian reasons as well as from a sales point of view.
5. Easier Tracking
When the cattle eat together, it is easier to monitor the pastures and, more importantly, watch the cows’ health. Weight management is one of the most significant factors to keep track of. Understanding the cows’ weight allows the farmer to add more pasture sections or subtract them.
6. Implementing A System
The first step in rotational grazing is understanding why herd migration positively impacts a pasture. The benefits range from environmentally friendly effects such as using fewer resources and allowing the land to heal naturally. The farmer also has economic benefits, like spending less on resources. And most importantly, the health of the cattle improves with herd migration. Find out more about Sustainable Cattle Farming: Is It Possible?
Finding the right fences and system for the pasture is another story. Technology today has allowed farmers to approach traditional farming with new concepts. Using fencing with migrational herding may be an old trick, but it’s making the rounds. Combining this with new sustainable farming methods such as hydroponics allow room for error in bad crop seasons.
When the cows are healthy, so are the products. Ethically sourced beef and dairy products are at the top of most consumers today. This method plays a huge role in providing that.