Please remember, I will write about grass management under high to very high stocking rates, the number of productive animals carried on your ranch per year. Everything will revolve around this.
Because the seedlings of your best species are more palatable and take a long time to put out strong enough roots to resist the pulling action of a cow wrapping her tongue on the seedling when your herd is doing selective grazing, the rest time, under selective grazing, is NOT long enough for them to establish; especially on a drought year and bare patches start to appear (in brittle environments) or undesirable species take over (in more humid environments).
If we want strong and fat roots of our best forage species the rest period needs to be long enough to allow for this. This means when the basal leaves start to turn yellow; at this point the root reserves allow for another grazing without damage to the roots.
Besides this, the very harmful recommendation to incorrectly name...
Watch the video above for the full interview with Ryan Boyd from South Glanton Farms in Manitoba, Canada or read the transcript highlights below:
Question 1 - Years in Total Grazing vs Selective Grazing
[2:26] Jim: How many years have you been doing Total Grazing vs Selective Grazing?
[3:02] Ryan: We've been selective rotationally grazing for 15 years now so it has been about one year since we really started Total Grazing. It took seeing it, witnessing it in person at your experienced ranch there [Florida] to really for the light bulb to go on and really show us the potential. So when we came home we started in the Total Grazing. We were totally believers after trying it for one summer. We would never switch back now. We still have a lot to learn but it's so much potential with Total Grazing.
Question 2 - Nuffield scholarship. Total Grazing vs other grazing operations
[3:45] Jim: I remember you visited me on February of 2020 and then you left on a Nuffield...
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...
If we start with the end in mind, we need to project our future number of cattle, and water needs, considering that we have increased 3 times the normal stocking rate in the first years. After that stocking rates can increase further.
1.- Always plan for a much higher number of animals, as your land improves your stocking rate MUST increase to keep conditioning your grass for maximum photosynthesis. This is important to repeat: as the cow needs the grass the grass needs the cow. If your ranch demands more cattle to keep up with the extra grass being produced and you do not increase your stocking rate the improvement of your soil may go back.
2.- Build resiliency into your system, pressurized systems can fail, especially in the weekends. You do not want thirsty cows which would lead to depressed individual performance.
3.- Allow enough water trough space so that all animals can consume water unimpeded, consider timid and dominant animals. Having the...
When we have been total grazing half the ranch in the growing season (total grazing half means it doesn’t get away from the cows and thus maintains higher quality). There is the other half that will have the full growing season to grow, deepen its roots and allow for the full expression of each individual plant.
This is where we enhance the humus production the most by having deeper, stronger roots and having more carbon remain in the soil after the following total grazing on the next non-growing season.
We have observed where this is practiced that the rested or spelled area develops a mellow, darker soil.
In this rested area, there is no human or animal traffic, is where most wildlife will be concentrated and meshes well with a goal of enhancing wildlife habitat which improves biodiversity, essential for good resiliency of the land.
This is where ground resting birds have the best habitat to reproduce unmolested.
It is also the time to recruit seedlings of desirable species...
There is a big difference between selective grazing where the animal is allowed to graze the species and parts of species that it prefers and Total grazing where the animal is not allowed that luxury and has to consume most everything on offer.
To have the cattle thrive under this management the grazing periods need to be short, so the rumen has a constant quality of feed coming into this wonderful batch system that is the rumen. Around every two hours is the optimum but this will depend on quality of forage on offer.
This takes some experience to do successfully so the cattle are getting enough breaks and area to do well (full gut at the end of the day, good looking manure, pre grazing and post grazing pasture mass).
The benefits to the environment are: