A couple of years ago I was working with Don Ashford on the Grazing 101 Eboo. He shared these thoughts with me and I’m sharing them with you as they go so well with this week’s article collection. Enjoy!
Two of the goals that all producers should work toward with their grazing operations are sustainability and balance.
In a sustainable operation, renewable resources are harvested in a way that allows their inherent regeneration and continued ongoing supply. In the forestry industry this involves selective cutting and replanting. In our case we are talking about grass and what this means is that, given the opportunity, the grass will grow back after it is grazed. This is what grass does and this regrowth is the ongoing supply of forage for the cattle.
The magic word here is opportunity. The grazier creates this opportunity for the regrowth with skillful management. What we are trying to do with our grazing management is to take advantage of this inherent regeneration process, while not not creating any lasting damage to the forage’s ability to continue the process.
This is where balance comes into play. Balance in this context means the capacity of an operation – the amount it can produce without diminishing its ability to produce. Ideally if an operation is in balance the production will be more or less constant.
The problem is not so much getting the operation in balance but keeping it in balance. A gallon bucket works fine until you try to put more than a gallon in it.
Cattle producers do this all the time. They will load a pasture down with more cattle than it can possibly carry and then the hay and lick tanks and range cubes show up and more likely than not any chance of profit is gone. With proper management, if the stocking density is in balance with the paddock size and the forage supply, and the grazier works to keep it that way, it can go on and on and on.