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Just a Few Fences Can Improve Pasture Health and Increase Stocking Rates

By   /  September 22, 2014  /  Comments Off on Just a Few Fences Can Improve Pasture Health and Increase Stocking Rates

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This video comes to us from our friends Downunder.  It shows one sheep producer’s experience with using rotational grazing to improve his pastures.  With just three fences dividing a 45 hectare pasture (111 acres), John Keogh says, “We’ve picked up 4 DSE (dry sheep equivalents) per hectare and have seen a 15 to 20% return on investment.”

Pasture Use Patterns

What the pasture looked like before fencing.

When Keogh started this demonstration, there were three distinct areas in the pasture.  One area was under grazed, another was overgrazed and the last part was grazed just right.  The problem was self-perpetuating.  The under grazed area’s forage was tall and rank and unpalatable, so the sheep avoided it, which caused overgrazing in another part of the pasture.  So the under grazed area was always under grazed and the overgrazed area was always over grazed.  With fencing they could better manage the sheep’s movement through the pasture, and in no time forage use changed, the overgrazed area improved, and the under grazed area became more productive.  Now all areas of the pasture are producing as much as the optimally grazed area.

The result doesn’t surprise Tim Ekberg, advisor to the local producers .  “All the research shows that rotational grazing does increase winter stocking rates and can allow you to have a higher stocking rate through the year.”

It’s a great 4 minute look at the benefits of rotational grazing, along with some good news for our readers in arid regions.  It shows that you can make beneficial changes without lots of effort.  It also shows something we don’t often see: video of 1500 sheep moving through a rotationally grazed pasture.

Tablet users, here’s your link.

This project was supported by Meat and Livestock Australia. The organization delivers marketing and research and development services for Australia’s cattle, sheep and goat producers.

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About the author

editor and contributor

Kathy worked with the Bureau of Land Management for 12 years before founding Livestock for Landscapes in 2004. Her twelve years at the agency allowed her to pursue her goal of helping communities find ways to live profitably AND sustainably in their environment. She has been researching and working with livestock as a land management tool for over a decade. When she's not helping farmers, ranchers and land managers on-site, she writes articles, and books, and edits videos to help others turn their livestock into landscape managers.

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