Wednesday, June 19, 2024
HomeGrazing ManagementMob Grazing in South Dakota Ten Months of the Year

Mob Grazing in South Dakota Ten Months of the Year

Charlie and Tanya Totten rent 4,000 acres of flat, fertile pasture land and rocky river breaks near Chamberlain, South Dakota. In this video he talks about how he manages his cattle and his land to improve productivity and natural resources.

Charlie says, “I’m not doing it for my grand kids. I’m doing it for me because it’s rented land and I have to make money in a short time period.” Key to his success is mob grazing and figuring out how to use his land creatively. “This flat land up on top will run twice as many cows as the steep river hills just a half mile away. Some of that poorer land is a long ways from water, so moved it into dormant season grazing when cows didn’t take as much water in the cooler part of the year.”

The Tottens mob graze 400 acres a year, letting pastures rest for a year before they’re grazed again. Their goal was to double production over a season of grazing, not by doubling the cow herd, by by doubling time they graze, so they’re out in pasture 10 months of the year.

In this 4:31 video, Charlie talks about his ranch, and the soil health and the plant life that he’s improved thanks to his grazing management. It’s part of the Profiles in Soil Health series from the South Dakota Soil Health Coalition, the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service, and the Conservation Districts of South Dakota.

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Kathy Voth
Kathy Voth
I am the founder, editor and publisher of On Pasture, now retired. My career spanned 40 years of finding creative solutions to problems, and sharing ideas with people that encouraged them to work together and try new things. From figuring out how to teach livestock to eat weeds, to teaching range management to high schoolers, outdoor ed graduation camping trips with fifty 6th graders at a time, building firebreaks with a 130-goat herd, developing the signs and interpretation for the Storm King Fourteen Memorial trail, receiving the Conservation Service Award for my work building the 150-mile mountain bike trail from Grand Junction, Colorado to Moab, Utah...well, the list is long so I'll stop with, I've had a great time and I'm very grateful.


  1. Thank you for sharing these experiences and practices.

    I was wondering how your management practices affected birds like meadow larks, pheasants, sharp-tailed grouse, grey partridge (Huns), etc.

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