This is a little inspiration for thinking about your grazing management and what your goals are.
In this two minute, time lapse video you’ll see how continuous grazing impacts the overall production of a forage grass – orchardgrass in this case. The plant on the left is “grazed” (clipped) every week regardless of whether or not it has recovered. The plant on the right is grazed once a month and so recovers much more quickly. Over time you’ll see that there is less and less forage being provided by the plant on the left as it struggles to regrow.
Of course, the thirty day recover period in this video is only for demonstration purposes. In your pastures, the recovery period changes over the course of the grazing season. In the spring, grasses grow quickly so recovery periods can be shorter. As the summer wears on, grasses grow more slowly and recovery periods are longer.
Dave Pratt lays out the principles you can use for determining recovery period length in his excellent article here:
Your Goals Will Determine What’s Right For You
If you’re planning to renovate or seed a pasture, the short grazing with no rest or recovery could be ideal for providing a good seeding environment. Some short grazed areas might also be in order if, like Brent Durham, you’re trying to provide wildlife habitat for certain bird species. Repeated short grazing can also be a tool for reducing weeds and other plants you don’t want in your pasture. On the other hand, if you’re trying to increase forage productivity, or are concerned about erosion and maintaining moisture in the soil, continuous, short grazing could prevent you from being successful.
Being clear about your goals and objectives can help you decide what kind of grazing management is best for a given situation. Here’s some help for identifying yours.
We cover these principles and how to apply them in our Grazing 101 ebook and online courses. Course registration and ebook downloads are free and come with a coupon for 25% off an On Pasture subscription. Head over here to get started.