Why selective grazing turns into overgrazing at the very high stocking rates

total grazing Mar 08, 2021

First let me tell you. All I will talk about is related to grazing under high to very high stocking rates, stocking rate being the number of productive animals maintained on a ranch per year, as this is what determines profitability on a ranch.

Selective grazing, by definition, harvests only a portion of the available forage before the cows move on to the next paddock. This means that they move faster around your ranch AND return faster than if their harvest were more Total, high harvest efficiency, which would mean it takes longer for them to finish it before moving on to the next paddock giving a much longer time to return, a longer rest period under Total Grazing.

Under selective grazing the best species get severely grazed while the less desirable or undesirable species get grazed less or not at all!.
This leads to desertification in brittle environments, or to undesirable species or brush taking over in more humid environments, unless serious destocking takes place, and we know that stocking rate determines profitability.

This happens because under selective grazing, by definition, the rest periods are shorter, and in a drought year the forage will get over grazed, which means it is re grazed before full recovery, leading to negative consequences like:

  • Death of desirable species plants from overgrazing and over shading.
  • Larger inter plant spacing, due to over shading and over grazing happening in the same paddock.
  • Poorer leaf to stem ratio of regrowth, under selective grazing less stems are consumed which leads to a poorer leaf to stem ratio in regrowth.
  • Stems consume energy and leaves produce energy with the difference available for production or growth which makes the leaf to stem ratio essential for high daily gains and for fast humus buildup.
  • Less humus is created, as humus is formed by fat microorganisms fed sugary root exudates made by photosynthesis.

A high leaf to stem ratio is the result of Total grazing and allows for a much higher photosynthesis rate.

When we consider how plants grow, and how they regrow after different types of grazing, how humus is formed by a better leaf to stem ratio, and that we are managing a continuum and not isolated events we can understand why Total grazing is MUCH better and achieves much higher stocking rates than selective grazing in any of its different variations and names.

In our Total grazing online course, you will learn exactly why a Total grazing strategy is best for each individual plant, soil health, humus buildup, forage species diversity, environment restoration and profits.
The Total grazing online course will improve your profitability as it is based on proven low-cost biological methods that really work and fully explain how nature created the best soils in the world.

Total grazing compared to selective grazing in any of its forms.
This is the first of a three-part series comparing Total grazing to selective grazing or as some call it, top grazing.


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