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Grazing Management: Systems. Grazing Systems?. Why would you want to use a grazing system? What do you expect from your grazing system?. Grazing Systems Objectives. Vegetation Considerations Deferment promotes plant succession Increase desirable species Reduce and improve sacrifice areas

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grazing systems
Grazing Systems?

Why would you want to use a grazing system?

What do you expect from your grazing system?

grazing systems objectives
Grazing Systems Objectives
  • Vegetation Considerations
    • Deferment promotes plant succession
      • Increase desirable species
      • Reduce and improve sacrifice areas
    • Improve forage harvest efficiency
      • Reduce animal selectivity
      • Grazing systems do not change forage preferences
    • Integrate range improvement practices:
      • Brush control
      • Prescribed burning
      • Seeding
grazing systems objectives4
Grazing Systems Objectives
  • Animal Considerations
    • Animal production per head and per acre
      • Many rangeland grazing systems will reduce animal performance
    • Improve animal management and care
      • Supplemental feeding
      • Health care
      • Artificial insemination
grazing systems objectives5
Grazing Systems Objectives
  • Economic Considerations
    • Reduce costs
      • Facilities such as watering points and handling equipment
      • Variable inputs, especially labor
  • Management considerations
    • Facilitate application of improved management
definitions for grazing systems
Definitions for grazing systems
  • Stocking density – The animal density per unit land area at one point in time.
  • Stocking rate – The total animal demand per unit land area for during a forage year.
  • Grazing pressure – The ratio of forage demand to forage available at any point in time.
  • Cumulative grazing pressure – The ratio between the total forage demand and forage available for the entire forage year.
the goal and challenge
The Goal and Challenge
  • Increasing harvest efficiency can increase animal production
  • Deferment promotes range improvement through plant succession
    • Deferment reduces harvest efficiency
designing grazing systems
Designing Grazing Systems
  • Considerations of grazing frequency and grazing intensity when designing grazing systems

Relationship (linear) between average annual precipitation and recommended proper stocking rate at locations from Sonora, TX to Manyberries, Canada

stocking rate considerations
Stocking Rate Considerations
  • Higher stocking rates produce higher gains per acre when:
    • Precipitation is above average
    • Animals receive supplemental feed
  • Continuous stocking may increase risk during droughts because of:
    • Need to destock when beef prices are low
    • Need for costly supplements (lack forage)
    • Long-term reduction in perennial grasses
three concepts for carrying capacity
Three concepts for carrying capacity
  • Agronomic-livestock production
    • Focus on Animal Production
  • Wildlife-animal population equilibrium
    • Focus on maximum animal numbers
  • Rangeland management-sustainable use
    • Focus maximizing animal production while sustaining rangeland productivity

(Kothmann and Hinnant, unpublished)

types of grazing systems
Types of Grazing Systems
  • Continuous (Yearlong or seasonal)
  • Rotation Grazing Systems
  • Deferred Rotation
  • Merrill 3-Herd/4-Pasture System (DR type)
  • Rest-Rotation Grazing
  • High Intensity-Low Frequency (HILF) System
  • Short-Duration Grazing
rotational grazing systems
Rotational Grazing Systems
  • Purposes include:
    • Relatively short grazed & non-grazing periods
    • Control timing of grazing
    • Reduce area selectivity
  • In humid grasslands and tame pastures:
    • Can increase animal production/acre (not per animal) through more uniform use of plants
deferred rotation
Deferred Rotation
  • Emphasizes deferment of forage use
    • Grazing area divided into at least two pastures allowing non-grazing for part of a year
  • Generally use 2, 3, or 4 pastures
  • Merrill 4-pasture 3-herd is an example
merrill system
Merrill System
  • This is a deferred rotation system that emphasizes cyclic deferment of grazing
  • Pasture and rotation characteristics:
    • Area divided into 4 pastures, used by 3 herds
    • Each pasture grazed 12 mo, “deferred” for 4 mo
    • Each pasture is deferred once in each season during a 4-year cycle
  • Useful where yearlong grazing is practiced
  • Winter rest allows soil recovery although forage may not be actively growing
rest rotation grazing
Rest-Rotation Grazing
  • Emphasizes a full year’s rest for part of the grazing area
  • Used in mountainous areas in western US
  • Pasture and rotation characteristics:
  • 3-5 pastures per herd
    • One pasture receives 12-months rest
    • Grazing pressure in others increases
rest rotation grazing19
Rest-Rotation Grazing
  • Advantages:
    • Low SR and non-grazing can improve vegetation
    • Low livestock numbers can provide multiple-use advantages with more forage allocated for wildlife & watershed
  • Disadvantages:
    • Generally reduces animal production per head and per acre
    • If SR not reduced significantly, intensive grazing for full grazing season may damage rangeland
high intensity low frequency
High Intensity-Low Frequency
  • HILF grazing emphasizes improvement of range condition thru use of high grazing pressure to increase uniformity of forage use with sufficient non-grazing time for plants to regrow following grazing
  • Pasture and rotation characteristics:
    • 3+ pastures
    • Grazing periods of at least 14 days
    • Non-use periods of at least 60 days
high intensity low frequency21
High Intensity-Low Frequency
  • Advantage:
    • Minimizes competitive advantage for less preferred plants because animals are forced to be less selective
  • Disadvantages:
    • Individual animal performance decreases when animals are forced to eat mature, unpalatable forage
    • Requires reduction in stocking rate (similar to Rest Rotation)
short duration grazing
Short-Duration Grazing
  • SDG emphasizes increased grazing pressure for short periods to minimize excessive plant defoliation and to allow rapid regrowth of grazed plants
  • Pasture and rotation characteristics:
    •  8 paddocks/herd, each with equal forage supply
    • 5 days or less grazing period (shorter during active plant growth periods than dormant period)
    • Non-grazing periods < 4-6 weeks
short duration grazing23
Short-Duration Grazing
  • Advantage:
    • SDG may improve diet quality because maturation of forage is delayed by repeated defoliation
    • Centralized watering/handling facilities (wagon-wheel) that can improve livestock management and reduce labor and facilities expenses
  • Disadvantage:
    • Lots of fencing and high fencing cost
    • Animal trails in long narrow paddocks
    • < 60-day growing period in arid areas diminishes positive effects of repeated defoliation/rest
custom design your grazing system
Custom design your grazing system
  • What are your vegetation management goals?
  • What are your animal production & management goals?
  • What are your management and economic constraints?