SUSTAINABLE GRAZING SYSTEM DEVELOP A SYSTEM IN 5 STEPS
1. Calving in harmony with green grass minimizes hay feeding, and can increase weaning rate, and general herd health. In practical terms this generally means calving around the same time as the local populations of wild ruminants such as deer, elk or antelope.
2. Extending the grazing season to decrease or eliminating the feeding of purchased and harvested feeds takes advantage of cattle’s ability to “self-harvest” grass, a renewable feedstuff. This can be done by filling forage gaps with grazable forages and by applying changes in grazing management, resulting in a tremendous positive effect on the bottom-line.
3. Develop a cowherd that is capable of high reproduction efficiency on a forage-based system. Today’s cattle genetics are not all the same, and the genetics currently found in many cowherds are not capable of producing a marketable calf year after year within a high forage based system. Changing cowherd genetics to match a management strategy that is in sync with nature is a critical consideration.
4. Improving grazing management by applying the principles of adaptive holistic grazing leads to greater ranch sustainability, and economic viability. Most leading ranches use some form of rotational grazing based on a grazing management plan that focuses on grazing grass that is prepared to endure the rigors inherent with grazing. Utilizing a rotational grazing program that mimics the movements of the historic herds of herbivores is key to ranching in harmony with nature.
5. Modern forage genetics provide varieties of grass that are much better able to endure management intensive grazing, with better yields, higher nutritional levels, and improved persistence. Stop using your Grandfather’s Forages. Many of the grass varieties used in forage systems today are 50 to 70-year-old genetics, even though much better varieties are available. Grazing systems in sync with nature rely on providing cattle within a high forage system. These systems should include high quality forages to maintain efficient production.
Ranching in harmony with nature requires a heightened reliance on well managed grazing to fill the nutritional needs of the cowherd. The basis for the sustainability of the entire beef production system is the capacity to harvest grass, a renewable source of feed, and turn it into a nutrient dense food. A ranch can contribute to the beef industry’s sustainability by improving grazing management to be more in sync with nature.
-Bryan Weech, Territory Manager