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Mob Grazing – Definition, Benefits, Drawbacks and Implementation

By   /  April 13, 2015  /  2 Comments

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Meet Anders Gurda. His videos were completed with the support of . He is now

Meet Anders Gurda. His videos were completed with the support of the University of Wisconsin Extension and Hay & Forage Grower, as well as the Center for Integrated Systems (CIAS), Ceres Trust, and Sustainable Agriculture Research & Education (SARE). He is now an associate researcher in organic and sustainable cropping systems at UW-Madison.

Anders Gurda created this set of videos as part of his graduate-thesis work at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. They answer the questions we all have when we’re learning about a new way to do something: What is it? What are the benefits? What are the downsides? And, how do I do it? Even better, the answers come to us from folks who are doing it. If you’ve got 30 minutes, sit down and watch them all.  If not, save this link and sit down for a break with your favorite beverage to rest a bit while you learn something too!

In Part 1, (4:15) farmers try to define Mob Grazing. Since it’s done differently by every practitioner, one definition is hard to come by. But listening to the different graziers try to describe it gives you a good idea of how you might adapt the practice to fit your needs.

Tablet readers, here’s your link.

Part 2 (8:50) looks at why these farmers mob graze. The benefits they list include:

• Increased organic matter
• Manure distribution
• Decreased selectivity, more even grazing
• Increased stocking capacity
• Season extension – one Wisconsin Farmer is grazing into December
• Lessening the impact of the summer slump
• Good animal performance
• More time with animals
• Resilience

The link for our tablet readers.

Part 3 (6:01) explores the drawbacks of mob grazing. Topping the list is “More Work” that comes from the daily moves. There are also some animal health setbacks with some animals doing better than others. Are you a dairy farmer? Mature forage can affect milk production, so you have to be on top of the grass at all times. Those are just a few of the points these mob-grazing practitioners make. They also give some tips about how they address these challenges.

Tablet readers, here’s your link.

The last part in the series looks at Implementation (11:30) the farmers talk about how to prepare for what could happen to you when you’re first starting this and give you some tips on what worked for them. My favorite advice is “Be ready to screw up!” You’ll learn a little about fencing solutions, providing water to the herd, stocking density and seasonality, and rotation and rest. Best of all you’ll get the farmers’ words of advice.

And the link for tablet readers.

We hope you enjoy this series. If you’ve got advice to add, or questions that your fellow readers might be able to help you with, share them in the comments below.

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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.

2 Comments

  1. Darrel Franson says:

    I’ve yet to hear a mob grazer report his/her production in terms of lbs. of beef/acre with stockers, or lbs. of beef/acre with cow-calf, or lbs. of milk/acre with a dairy. Yes, the resource (land) must be sustained, and mob grazing certainly does that, but so does intensive grazing where the cattle graze from eye or ear down to nose; with shorter rest periods, less residue, and more vegetative (quality) growth. This is what we do and my O.M. over the last 22 years has come from an average (2.5 ac. grid samples) of 2.8% to an average of 4.3%. The past 5 yrs. my cow-calf operation has produced an avg. of 402 lbs. of beef (calves & cull cows sold) per acre. What is that number for the mob grazer? This with all of our hay made on the same land for winter feeding. I can see where my “pasture repair” costs will be higher as excessive rain brings damage that must be repaired. The economics of mob grazing, the profitability, needs to be included in the debate. Will it work when the cattle market cycle heads south? What is a Mob Grazier’s Yield in Marketable Product?

  2. Tom Crofton says:

    What about flies?
    Do you drag the manure patties?
    What about weeds?
    Do you move the back fence to keep the paddock small?
    We have 20 head so our herd is about 15-20,000 lbs mid summer (incl calves) should we think in terms of 1/10 acre twice a day?

    We have been moving cattle daily when the grass gets down to 3 inches
    We are willing to let it get taller before we start this spring and graze to 7-8

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