Assess Past Grazing Season and Plan Ahead

As the grazing season comes to an end, take time to reflect on and assess the past grazing season. It is important to continually make an effort to improve and advance a managed grazing system. When planning for the upcoming grazing season, decide on a purposed budget and time limitation. If you have little or no budget to make improvements to your grazing system, simple changes to management practices can make significant improvements.

What is Holistic Grazing Management?

A group of Kentucky producers and county agents had the opportunity to visit Greg Judy’s farm last month. Judy runs a unique cow/calf operation near Harrisburg, Missouri. He explained that he learned these methods from Allan Savory who began holistic management while raising livestock in South Africa. After visiting Judy’s farm, I wanted to know: what is holistic management?

Suggested Grazing Heights

Grazing at too low of a height causes overgrazing and decreases stand productivity and longevity. The general recommendation is to remove livestock once pastures are grazed down to an average height of 3 to 4 inches. Although, in pastures with mixed species, it is best to follow this recommendation to avoid overgrazing and reducing desirable species, ideal grazing height can vary depending on the forage species. Below is a table with the recommended height to remove animals from a pasture:

Species

Harvesting Excess Spring Growth

Cool season grasses are growing rapidly and producing large amounts of forages at this time of year. Livestock may not be able to keep up with grazing the excess growth during these times. In order to keep forages from becoming too mature and decreasing in quality, one good option may be to harvest some fields for hay while managing others by grazing. If not harvesting for hay, pastures should be mowed to keep forages from becoming too mature and to control weeds. Each individual should assess whether this would be economical for them.

Rotational Grazing Practices Improves Soils

Implementing rotational grazing practices improves forage productivity. Plants often show an improvement not only in growth but rate of regrowth. Improvements in soils seen by rotationally grazing directly impact forage growth. These benefits are realized through reduced erosion, decreased soil compaction, and improved manure distribution.

Alfalfa Grazing