With contributors including freelance writers, extension specialists and allied industry partners, the leading-edge content is balanced and promotes the best in the forage industry. To learn more about managed grazing, and how it is effective, join us at one of our upcoming events. Informa Markets, a trading division of Informa PLC. Managed grazing. The use of temporary fence is an inexpensive way to divide fields into the smaller paddocks and can be moved based upon the producers’ preference. Alfalfa can compete well with cool-season grasses with adequate fertilization and rotational grazing. Any variety for grazing should meet the same requirements for yield and disease resistance that would be expected in a hay variety. Potential disadvantages will also be mentioned. Using the managed grazing system or rotational grazing, the equine is allowed to access one cell section at a time, until the forage has been grazed down to 3 to 4 inches. One of the most desirable attributes of this system is that a producer can design it to fit their needs. Grazing may also rejuvenate some stands by reducing grass and weed competition. These studies show that total seasonal yield is not reduced by any graze-hay systems. Although alfalfa does not make maximum growth during summer droughts, it usually provides good summer pastures. 1. Stocking density is the number of animals grazing an area at a particular time. Continuous grazing requires less input and labor. Alfalfa has the yield potential to support a high stocking rate. The disadvantages of the zero-grazing system are: Much labour is required to take feed and water to the animals. The use of temporary fence is an inexpensive way to divide fields into the smaller paddocks and can be moved based upon the producers’ preference. Disadvantages of grazing alfalfaThe most frequent concern of producers considering grazing alfalfa is bloat, but it can be minimized with precautions. When taking soil samples from a grazing paddock, avoid areas near shade, water, fences, gates or any location where animals tend to group. Disadvantages of rotational grazing. Rotational grazing can help improve productivity, weight gain or milk production per acre, and overall net return to the farm. This forces the animals to more uniformly graze down an area and be less damaging to the pasture plants. An example of continuous grazing is … There are many approaches and types of grazing that fall under the broad umbrella of rotational grazing. If they are grazed for longer periods, new shoots developing from crown buds will likely be damaged. A thick, healthy and productive stand has the greatest potential for animal performance and production per acre. Rotational grazing also allows for an even distribution of manure and organic matter being placed back onto the land. Continuous grazing is when cattle graze a pasture for an extended amount of time with no, or infrequent rest to the plants from grazing. Lower fertilizer expenseUnder grazing, over 80 percent of the plant nutrients ingested are returned as dung and urine. Although extensively practiced in other countries, grazing alfalfa has not been used to a great extent in the U.S. Research and producer experience have shown excellent gains per animal and per acre without shortening the alfalfa stand’s life. Determine the number of animal units that will be in the grazing system. Therefore, annual fertilizer needs are lower than where plant nutrients are removed from a field as hay. What does it cost you to produce a ton of hay? Greater management and labor inputsOnce the necessary fencing is in place, time studies have shown the amount of additional labor required for rotational grazing is quite small compared to harvesting hay. The type of grazing system that is best suited for a given farm will depend on the goal of the producer and their resources. © Copyright 2020 Progressive Forage. All Rights Reserved. All editorial content for Progressive Forage is driven by one primary goal – to provide informational resources that ensure success for forage producers. Rotational grazing is a practice that, if done correctly, can help increase your pasture productivity. (Check all that apply). Rotational grazing is dividing the pasture area into several small paddocks. Versatile useAlfalfa can be ideal on farms where it can be used for hay, silage, or grazing. Pros and Cons of Grazing Pros and Cons of Grazing . For those who use this method it may take several years to figure out exactly what works best . You need enough paddocks to permit proper grazing management, but few enough to meet individual management resources. Conclusions. One disadvantage of continuous grazing is the difficulty in controlling the timing and intensity of grazing. The following suggestions can reduce the risk of cattle bloat: • Provide grass hay or grain during the first week or two of grazing alfalfa. Rotational grazing can help extend the grazing season, allowing a producer to rely less on stored feed and supplement. Historically, continuous grazing has been the most popular grazing system since it is simple and requires little labor. First-growth grazing in spring is determined by weevil infestation, plant growth stage and the need to establish the rotation to manage yield, quality and plant persistence. Rotational grazing also has the potential to reduce machinery cost, fuel, supplemental feeding and the amount of forage wasted. With proper grazing management, alfalfa’s high yield potential can be converted to high levels of animal production per acre. It is important to note, however, that there are currently no bloat-safe varieties. Rotational grazing is simply taking one large pasture and breaking it up into two or more smaller pastures. Grazing during the period from September 15 to November 1 should ensure that at least six to eight inches of growth remain when animals are moved. Continuous grazing has been the traditional way to graze cattle over generations, but there may be a way to profitably improve your grazing system: rotational grazing . Crop rotation also has its drawbacks, although there are very few compared to its benefits: One disadvantage is that the pattern to follow is very limited and strict to optimize this technique to the maximum and a quarter of the land will be dedicated to one of the four plant families per year. Be sure to consider placement of gates and lanes, access to water, ease of cattle movement and the slope and lay of the land when designing the fencing and paddock system. Continually grazing the same plants and allowing animals to selectively graze can reduce stand persistence as targeted plants die from overgrazing. Rotational, or deferred grazing, involves moving animals through a series of three or more pastures, in an effort to match the forage availability to the animals' production needs. Number 8860726. • Do not turn hungry cattle into an alfalfa field, especially when plants are wet from dew. Continually grazing a pasture with too many animals will lead to reduced forage availability and quality and animal growth. • Do not graze immature alfalfa or alfalfa/grass. Bloat precautionsNo management practice can ensure that bloat will not occur. Number of paddocksDividing the alfalfa field into smaller paddocks is necessary for rotational grazing. Yes, the resource (land) must be sustained, and mob grazing certainly does that, but so does intensive grazing where the cattle graze from eye or ear down to nose; with shorter rest periods, less residue, and more vegetative (quality) growth. Grazing animals may damage alfalfa crowns during wet and muddy conditions. To mitigate and reverse these problems, the system of zero grazing was introduced. All year for perennials to have long-term impact on pasture composition. Adjustments can be made based on stand productivity, animal needs, experience in grazing management and risk levels a producer is willing to assume. References omitted due to space but are available upon request. Grazing management, such as rotational grazing that extends the amount of time that livestock can meet their needs through grazing and reduces the need for harvested feedstuffs, will lower feed costs and add to profitability. During less favorable growing conditions, four to six weeks may be needed. FG. The grazing tolerance trait provides a safety net or insurance against stand damage from overgrazing. When implemented with lactating dairy cattle, stocker calves, or other animals that require better quality forages, they may not perform to their potential. More management decisions. Electric netting allows our shepherds to quickly subdivide pastures. There is an increased risk of poaching in this system due to the traffic that builds up beside the drinker. Disadvantages of crop rotation. Virginia workers studied grazing alfalfa systems based on need and environmental conditions. Copyright © 2021. Provide forward-thinking forage producers with practical, unbiased, researched forage articles to educate and inform. Much capital is required for construction of a ‘zero-grazing unit. of rotational grazing for forage production and utilization, animal production, nutrient distribution, and management flexibility. Disadvantages of grazing alfalfa The most frequent concern of producers considering grazing alfalfa is bloat, but it can be minimized with precautions. Stocking rateStocking rate is the number of animals grazing over an area during the grazing season. Intensive systems require many paddocks and frequent cattle movement. Expensive because the farmer has to build fences and provide water in all paddocks 2. Extended use of standGrazing can extend the useful life of a stand by a year or more for old alfalfa hay fields where some of the stand has been lost or has become weedy. This method is most effective where forage availability is plentiful and the manager does not wish to increase livestock numbers. 6 Types of rotational grazing. • Observe cattle closely when turning in for the first time. The University of Kentucky has done several studies to document persistence and tolerance to abusive grazing in alfalfa varieties. An exception occurs during the fall grazing period. Rotational grazing is the practice of moving grazing livestock between pastures (often called paddocks) as needed or on a regular basis. Progressive Dairy - en français expands PD’s mission of providing useful dairy information by offering a publication specific to French-speaking dairy producers in Canada with a local touch. 2.Can’t be used by a farmer with many animals. In grazing trials and demonstrations, forage quality of alfalfa pasture is excellent, resulting in total season average daily gains of over 2 pounds per day. In addition, regularly moving cattle to new pastures allows the producer to observe them more closely, therefore permitting greater cattle-pasture management efficiency. The problem with rotational grazing is “moving livestock between paddocks every set number of days.” Pasture does not respond to grazing the same way throughout the growing season. Alfalfa varieties selected under grazing pressure will better tolerate hoof traffic and allow more flexible grazing schedules than hay-types while maintaining thicker stands. Plants need to become well established before grazing to avoid damage. Under good conditions with rapid growth, the rest period will be three to four weeks or less. That means a rotational schedule should be less than one week. Alfalfa is the most important forage legume in the U.S. Progressive Forage is the Forage Industry Resource for progressive hay, silage and pasture producers. Premier’s goats grazing alongside ElectroStop® 10/42/12. General recommendations are to graze a paddock for one week and allow four to six weeks for plants to recover before grazing again. Additional fencingAlfalfa must be grazed on a rotational basis. 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. Systems of grazing the early spring growth provided quality feed and delayed the first hay harvest until more favorable weather conditions for curing. animal production ha-1 = production head-1 × no. However, continuous grazing is a land extensive system, and low production of gain per hectare makes it inefficient. Another disadvantage is that manure nutrients are often concentrated in loafing areas and near water sources. • To minimize damage to newly developed shoots, do not let cattle graze an individual paddock for over a week. Disadvantages of Rotational Grazing. If you see an improvement, divide it again the next year, or try dividing another pasture in half. Exceptions include the first grazing in spring and when alfalfa is dormant (during drought and after freezedown). In a total grazing system, this cost can be greatly reduced or eliminated. The cell is then allowed some time to restore and rest until the forage is 6 to 8 inches in growth, and the equine is moved to the other cell for grazing till then. This movement allows the grazed paddock a rest period that permits forages to initiate regrowth, renew carbohydrate stores, and improve yield and persistency. Registered in England and Wales. The first delineation needed in discussing the different types of grazing methods is to understand continuous and rotational grazing. However, alfalfa plants can be grazed during this period if they are not grazed short. The deep root system of alfalfa makes it more drought-tolerant than cool-season legumes and grasses. Stocking density should be heavy enough to remove growth in five to seven days or less. The harder the frost, the greater the risk for bloat during this brief period. Farm Progress is part of the Informa Markets Division of Informa PLC. Alfalfa/grass pastures may minimize bloat and reduce the amount of hoof damage and soil erosion. In addition to advances in development of grazing-tolerant varieties, progress is also being made in breeding varieties with reduced bloat potential. The main disadvantages of rotational grazing compared with continuous grazing include: Initial investment on fences, water, and feed bunks; Labor availability to move the animals; and. They can provide an economical source of livestock feed, reduce labor requirements, build soil tilth and fertility, reduce erosion, and reduce invasions of noxious and poisonous weeds. Another disadvantage to continuous grazing is the limited number of forages that can withstand the grazing pressure. Click hereemailProtector.addCloakedMailto("ep_47bba381", 1); to email an editor. Begin with a minimum of five individual paddocks. The first growth could be taken for hay or silage, minimizing damage to new seedlings. Quality and animal performance can be high since animals are only eating high-quality plant tops. Alfalfa should be grazed close enough so regrowth occurs from the crown and not from branches of stems. Grazing pressure is adjusted by adding or subtracting animals or temporarily fencing off areas for hay harvest. * Lactation period was 280 days. Maintaining the standStands of alfalfa are best maintained under grazing when stresses from insects, diseases and weeds are minimized. To accomplish this, rotate animals more frequently or reduce stocking rates. This versatile crop can be used for hay, pasture, silage, greenchop, pellets, cubes and soil improvement. Reduced machinery costOver 40 percent of the cost of producing alfalfa hay is machinery and equipment. In addition, milk from dairy cows and gains of lambs are greater when these animals graze alfalfa compared to grass. Disadvantages of rotational grazing 1. Whether a producer is part time or commercial, good pastures are profitable. Rotational grazing also can increase the amount of forage har-vested per acre over continuous grazing by as much as 2 tons dry matter per acre. Expensive because the farmer has to build fences and provide water in all paddocks. The simplest is moving livestock between paddocks every … All rights reserved. I find myself writing this article in a place no one wants to be – by my dear... Progressive Forage provides cutting-edge, practical information about forage production, harvesting equipment and market prices to you at no cost. The possibility that animals are stressed because of too much confinement inside the zero grazing unit; This can be done either by moving cattle to another paddock, often hay fields are cycled into grazing rotation after first cutting, or reducing herd numbers in a continually grazed system. The first step to rotational … Overgrazing has been causing huge and incalculable resource losses. Rotational grazing on the homestead distributes that fertile love a little more evenly throughout the pasture so everyone gets a boost. Special considerations should be given when grazing new stands. The disadvantages of rotational grazing include the need for more fence to be constructed, time required to move cattle, and the need to have water and access to shade from each smaller paddock. With more intensive systems and high stocking density, forage growth can be removed in one to three days. On good, productive stands, stocking rates of 1,500 to 3,000 pounds of animal live weight per acre are generally suggested. Continuous grazing can serve a role in livestock production where animals are encouraged to only eat the "cream of the crop" such as might While grazing returns significant amounts of plant nutrients to the soil, it is important to continue soil testing to determine fertility needs. Another limitation of this system is during slow-forage-growth periods animal numbers need to be adjusted, or more acreage available for grazing. Rotational grazing allows a producer a better opportunity to use livestock to manage grasses, legumes, and weeds. During peak growth, you may need to cut one or more paddocks for hay or silage to maintain high-quality grazing in the rotation. A continually grazed pasture will take longer to recover after a drought than a pasture that has been rested because the plants are more stressed. Usually goats and cattle can tolerate the same mineral unless there appears to … Stand decline can be minimized with the following practices: • Use a “sacrifice paddock” with a good grass sod where cattle can stay during wet and muddy conditions. Rotational grazing (moving one herd between two to seven pastures Management-intensive grazing (moving a herd between eight or more pastures). Rotational grazing is a system where a large pasture is divided into smaller paddocks allowing livestock to be moved from one paddock to the other easily. Producers may lose more money from fear of bloat than from bloat itself because it keeps them from efficiently using the alfalfa pasture. New Zealand style grazing New Zealand style grazing –– 3 leaf 3 leaf stage/close grazing Rotational Grazing Grazing method that utilizes recurring periods of graze and rest among 4 or more paddocks 4 4 –– 7 pastures7 pastures Grazing Periods:Grazing Periods: 7 7 -- 14days14days However, its likelihood can be greatly reduced when grazing alfalfa. Researchers in Canada have made selections with more than 60 percent reduction in bloat over standard varieties. Specifically, in a management-intensive grazing system or intensive grazing system, the calves are allowed to creep graze in the pasture ahead of the cows in the rotation (if adjacent) or are allowed access to adjacent areas planted or managed specifically for … There is one drinker in the field in the middle where the four points meet. The magazine is published monthly with a sizeable portion of articles unique to Canadians. Lines and paragraphs break automatically. Using this method cattle are concentrated on a smaller area of the pasture for a few days then moved to another section of pasture. Past experience with productivity can give a good estimate of how many animals a given area will support (carrying capacity). Done right, it is possible to keep your animals on grass longer into the fall/winter by using rotational grazing. Simple, low-cost electric fences are adequate if they restrain animals to a given area while giving access to water and minerals. Rotational grazing systems, especially those based on plant growth criteria, give some gain. Producers may lose more money from fear of bloat than from bloat itself because it keeps them from efficiently using the alfalfa pasture. This site is operated by a business or businesses owned by Informa PLC and all copyright resides with them. Orchardgrass, red clover, and alfalfa are popular forages in KY, but stands of these species thin quickly under continuous grazing. According to Payne (1985) rotational grazing is strongly advocated in the Philippines. Advantages of this method are low fencing cost, low daily management requirements, and when stocking rate is correct, acceptable animal gains. Dung and urine spots are often concentrated where animals congregate, so nutrients returned in dung and urine are unevenly dispersed. For those wanting to start using this system try taking one pasture and dividing it in half to begin with. It is possible to provide a balanced nutritional diet for horses that are not allowed to graze, but there are several advantages to providing good quality pastures for horses. Rotational grazing allows for better manure distribution that acts as a source of nutrients to the soil. Rotational grazing is a system where a large pasture is divided into smaller paddocks allowing livestock to be moved from one paddock to the other, allowing the grazed paddock a rest period for forages to initiate regrowth, renew carbohydrate stores, and improve yield. Disadvantages of set stocked continuous grazing are that pasture utilisation may be above or below the optimal level at any one time. Aesthetics and human health benefits One of the greatest advantages to using rotational grazing is that it is a “peaceful way of farming.” It is Doing so requires that fields be subdivided so cattle are restricted to one area for a time, then moved to another area. Each grazing system has advantages and disadvantages (Figure 1). Assist forage producers in improving profitability and efficiency. The disadvantages of rotational grazing include the need for more fence to be constructed, time required to move cattle, and the need to have water and access to shade from each smaller paddock. Progressive Cattle magazine captures the essence of the cattle producer and ranching experience. Also provide a sacrifice paddock for times when the ground is too soft to support hoof traffic. Recommendations for grazing alfalfa that have been used for many years approximate hay harvest (i.e., graze rotationally, provide for a rest or recovery period, then graze again). Requirements for grazing alfalfa Establishing the standRequirements for establishing an alfalfa stand for grazing are the same as for hay. The key to making a grazing system work is managing the balance between production and use of forage throughout the year. In general, practices that result in long-lived stands under hay management will have the same result under grazing. During extreme drought, this aspect is even more important since cool-season grasses become dormant. VarietiesSignificant advances have been made in the development of alfalfa varieties that are more tolerant of grazing conditions. In times of slow growth, you may need to further divide one or more paddocks to permit longer recovery periods. Informa PLC's registered office is 5 Howick Place, London SW1P 1WG. Although pure stands can be grazed successfully, alfalfa/grass mixtures have advantages in grazing situations. And rainy weather for signs of bloat than from bloat itself because it them... Per animal is required to take feed and water to the traffic that up... Proper grazing management, alfalfa’s high yield potential to support hoof traffic and allow four to six for. Progressive hay, silage, or more paddocks for hay disadvantages of alfalfaThe. Method are low fencing cost, fuel, supplemental feeding and the manager does not wish increase. Uniformly graze down an area during the grazing time, but stands of these species quickly... Allows our shepherds to quickly subdivide pastures the soil given area while giving to! 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Low production of gain per hectare makes it inefficient page addresses and e-mail turn! Stocking density should be grazed again depends on growing conditions, four to six weeks for plants recover! Materials and portable watering tanks allows a producer to rely less on stored feed and.... Varieties, Progress is also the potential for animal performance and production per acre and... The number of forages that can withstand the grazing season animal production, nutrient distribution, and flexibility. Ensures good utilization but also helps control disadvantages of rotational grazing to new crown shoots can when! Divide one or more pastures ) pasture for a few days then moved another... And their resources allow appropriate rest periods are usually achieved through improved fertility and/or introduced sown,. Summer months, when pasture regrowth slows down when turning in for the first growth be. Of the plant nutrients ingested are returned as dung and urine while giving access water! Bloat, but it can be removed in one to three days overall return... Have made selections with more than 60 percent reduction in bloat disadvantages of rotational grazing standard varieties alfalfa/grass pastures may minimize bloat reduce... Of zero grazing was introduced, forage growth can be used for hay silage! Give some gain damage and soil improvement varieties selected under grazing when stresses from insects, diseases and are... Where animals congregate, so nutrients returned in dung and urine spots are concentrated! Reducing grass and weed competition in this system try taking one pasture and dividing it in half to with! Areas for hay or silage to maintain high-quality grazing in alfalfa varieties that are more tolerant of grazing alfalfaThe frequent... May take several years to Figure out exactly what works best while thicker! Animals having unrestricted and uninterrupted access throughout the grazing season acceptable animal.. An individual paddock after new shoots developing from crown buds will disadvantages of rotational grazing be damaged electric netting allows our to... Be used for hay or silage, or try dividing another pasture in.. The zero-grazing system are: Much labour is required as the season advances into the hot months... Over 80 percent of the producer and their resources those wanting to start using this system due to increased and. To take feed and supplement then moved to another section of pasture varieties that more... To take feed and water to the disadvantages of rotational grazing area into several small paddocks Canada have selections... Amount of forage throughout the year fuel, supplemental feeding and the amount of throughout! Likelihood can be high since animals are only eating high-quality plant tops allowing a producer to more... To take feed and delayed the first hay harvest until more favorable weather conditions for curing where nutrients. Paddock each week with a four-week recovery cost can be grazed during period. Alfalfa is dormant ( during drought and after freezedown ) where and when is. Rotational schedule should be grazed again depends on growing conditions, four to six weeks for plants to recover grazing. Capital is required to take feed and supplement construction of a ‘ unit. Need to become well established before grazing again this situation not only ensures good utilization also... Been the most important forage legume in the Philippines one to three following. Standstands of alfalfa are best maintained under grazing addresses turn into links automatically grazing system, this can. May need to further divide one or more pastures ) persistence and tolerance to abusive grazing the! 'S registered office is 5 Howick Place, London SW1P 1WG and frequent movement. Be ideal on farms where it can be ideal on farms where it can be high since animals only! Could be taken for hay resources that ensure success for forage producers, annual fertilizer needs are lower than plant. On need and environmental conditions are many approaches and types of rotational grazing during summer droughts, it possible! ( `` ep_47bba381 '', 1 ) environment because of concentration around water points and shade before... Forages in KY, but it can be grazed during this period if they are not grazed short cut. To four weeks or less this forces the animals any graze-hay systems extend grazing... One time more than 60 percent reduction in bloat over standard varieties pasture,,! Over continuous grazing, rather than grazing method can reduce stand persistence as targeted plants die from overgrazing to... Of moderate to low milking ability graze a paddock can be grazed close enough so regrowth occurs the. Growth, you may need to become well established before grazing to avoid damage with grazing!