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What is “Back-Grazing” and Should You Do It?

By   /  April 25, 2016  /  1 Comment

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A common question for graziers is what does ‘back-grazing’ mean. Then their next questio
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About the author

Jim Gerrish is the author of "Management-Intensive Grazing: The Grassroots of Grass Farming" and "Kick the Hay Habit: A Practical Guide to Year-around Grazing" and is a popular speaker at conferences around the world. His company, American GrazingLands Services LLC is dedicated to improving the health and sustainable productivity of grazing lands around the world through the use of Management-intensive Grazing practices. They work with small farms, large ranches, government agencies and NGO's to promote economically and environmentally sustainable grazing operations and believe healthy farms and ranches are the basis of healthy communities and healthy consumers. Visit their website to find out more about their consulting services and grazing management tools, including electric fencing, stock water systems, forage seed, and other management tools.

1 Comment

  1. Richard Moyer says:

    Thanks for these practical and simple reminders, Jim; I know you could share much more on each of these. The pictures help with me and my kids, to see what we’re working toward.

    Another tip in limiting back grazing: More (potential) watering points. We have a frost-proof waterer in every fenced field. (They straddle the fence, so one waterer can serve 2-3 fields.)
    When installing 6000 ft of water lines on our farm, my son had the foresight to put recessed quick connects every 120 feet within our biggest fields. So when we split our herd or big fields with polywire, we can still maintain higher density and limit backgrazing with movable, 75 gal, float valve waterers. Does take more time, but also helps spread manure evenly and keeps cattle in day 1-3 areas.

    On neighbors’ land with few to no fences and installed water, these moveable waterers also prevent our cattle from making ‘eyesores’ in neighbors’ pasture, through backgrazing or loafing.

    We were extremely dry last six weeks in SW VA, so much so we had to feed hay again last two weeks. The field with hay became a sacrifice area, with backgrazing for 10 days. Now that rains have returned, cattle moved and most forage growing well again, that sacrifice area has not, the crowns of those plants eaten repeatedly for 10 days. Same with neighbors who did not limit backgrazing, they’re still feeding hay. So we can see how long it’s taking for this 10-day backgrazed field to recover, on one side of the fence vs. the other. Overgrazed areas can be instructive, if I remember to compare them over time to those treated better…

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