Different Grass Management Methods Create Varied Outcomes

The Grazier's Art

Manage grass with different stock densities and matching techniques to fit the needs of your forage and livestock.

Published on: September 19, 2013

Last blog I wrote about how we should alternate areas where we graze non-selectively but on a young and lush pasture with areas stockpiled for the non-growing season.

Some people know these two methods as MIG or management intensive grazing and mob or ultra-high-stock-density grazing

Now I will write about other scenarios of grass management to obtain desired results.

Selective grazing:

In this method the stocking rate is determined by how much forage we take with the animals and the individual animal performance is determined by how much forage we leave behind after grazing.

Selective grazing is a tool we can use when high individual animal performance is desirable. It is done using relatively lower stock densities. When we allow for selective grazing, while still rotating, the animals can select the best plants or portion of plants to satisfy their requirements, which leads to the best individual animal performance.

The consequences of this type of grazing on the pasture would be to increase undesirable species, if done over the long term. However the problems from selectivity can be alleviated with mowing directly behind the animals grazing in this way.

Non-selective grazing:

This method allows for maximum carrying capacity if done correctly in a way the grass is allowed to replenish its root reserves; but individual animal performance can suffer somewhat. This is done at relatively high stock densities.

The deleterious effect on individual animal performance can be alleviated by reducing recovery time so forage quality is higher while still allowing forage to maintain a good stand. If done over the long term the grass stand would be weakened. That is why it is important to alternate areas grazed this way with areas given longer rest and even better plant and root recovery.

This type of grazing is similar to the MIG grazing many people have heard of or practiced.

Stockpiled forage and non-selective grazing:

Under this situation we aim to utilize all of the forage on offer and supplement protein or rumen enhancers to allow the animal to utilize to advantage said forage. Using all the forage doesn't necessarily mean grazing it all. Depending on your goals, a significant portion of it will be trampled down onto the ground. This type grazing is done under very high stock densities.

If forage quality is high enough there many not be a need for supplementation. Supplementation still would be less than 0.2 % of body weight.

These are the areas of the ranch to alternate with the non-selectively grazed area in the growing season and perhaps with the selectively grazed areas.

The benefits to the forage from this method are the long recovery period and deep root development.

This type of management requires attention to detail and a good pasture "eye" and it’s the reason I call this the graziers art as it will depend on how you adjust to varying conditions and apply the different management tools as to what you achieve.

It my next blog I will discuss the animal type needed to make our grass management more rewarding.