WHAT IS PASTURE MANAGEMENT?
Providing cows and other ruminants with access to pasture can decrease operating costs and increase milk/meat quality. To get the most value from a pasture, farmers should consider pasture management. This involves selecting forage species best suited to the grazing plan and regulating the animals access to pasture based on weather and forage growth.
ROTATIONAL & MANAGEMENT
Managed grazing controlling where and when livestock species graze an area of land - has numerous advantages over continuous grazing. Rotational, or deferred grazing, involves moving animals through a series of three or more pastures, in an effort to match the forage availability to the animals' production needs. The rotation schedule will depend on herd size, paddock size, and paddock number. Managers can rotate livestock through a series of paddocks as forage availability allows, moving them from an area where the animals have completely utilized the available forages and have achieved a desirable residue height - the amount of forage left that has not been grazed.
ADVANTAGES OF INCORPORATING MORE PASTURE AND GRAZING
One of the major advantages of a deferred grazing system is the allowance of the land and forages to rest and accumulate growth after they have been defoliated through grazing, without the risk of animals coming back and grazing them again before they have had the opportunity to regrow and replenish nutrient stores. Because animals are in a smaller area of concentration than in a continuously grazed system, manure is distributed more evenly across the grazing area and carrying capacity is increased as the animals are forced to utilize more of the available forage in a paddock and waste less. As carrying capacity increases, so does productivity per unit land area.
HOW CAN WE HELP?
If you are interested in pasture management need help with the next steps, RC&D has a pasture management program?