What determines our stocking rate?

 We know that the main determinant of profitability for a ranch is the number of productive animals we can carry at a low cost per year.

And we know that the main constraint to a very high stocking rate is the Winter or dry season. The number of animals we can maintain in good body condition at a low cost in the Winter or dry season determines our stocking rate. Normally, in our green season we have forage excess!

By doing Total Grazing with adapted genetics, we can, and should have our cow's fat in the green season and in good condition in the Winter/dry season. The way to achieve this is to only graze the section or paddocks that our cows can keep up with in the green growing season and stockpiling the rest. Then we keep grazing the green season area until growth stops, and we finish off this area. Then we go to the stockpiled area and do Total grazing there!

By adapted genetics I mean cattle that have the resistance and adaptation to:

  • High heat index
  • Parasites and disease
  • ...
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5 Quick Tips on Building Fences

total grazing May 04, 2021

Last week and this week I have been building fences... in the hot sun of Florida.

But I have done this gladly because fencing is so important to achieve Total Grazing in a ranch.

Fencing allows us to have the "predator effect" which is key to improve our land the fastest.

Today I am sharing with you 5 simple but very important tips you can use when building fences:

1. Whenever you start try to first design where your roads will go, and the roads will double as water alleys to your water points.


2. Go to through highest ridges, your cows and vehicles will spend less energy travelling around the ranch on the highest ridges.


3. Try to avoid steep slopes because that will create erosion on the road or water alley


4. Build a perimeter road so that you can travel around your ranch and put out fires and to check perimeter fences, that’s very important!

 

5. Then you go perpendicular to your water alleys or road and build a grid of permanent one-wire fences which will be no...

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How to reduce risks

total grazing Apr 26, 2021

I have stated: selective grazing leads to overgrazing when you have high to very high stocking rates.

I say this because by doing selective grazing we, by definition, leave a shorter rest to grazed paddocks and the herd returns sooner to re graze what was grazed.  Whenever rainfall diminishes the best species get re grazed before they have had the chance to fully replenish their energy reserves in crown/roots which means they are being over grazed.

Overgrazing occurs when an individual plant is re grazed before it has fully recovered from a previous grazing.  It has nothing to do with severity of grazing and it’s a function of time.  That is the reason why they advise to lower stocking rate when they get less rainfall.

With Total grazing we avoid overgrazing by taking more cow/days per grazing which allows for a much longer rest period.  Short rest periods in a short drought situation causes overgrazing.

Remember, stocking rate or the number of productive...

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Higher leaf to stem ratio creates a better solar panel

total grazing Apr 02, 2021

Last blog I tried to explain how Total grazing creates more humus and how too much litter impairs new seedlings. 

Now, I am going to talk about how the higher leaf to stem ratio following a Total grazing creates a better solar panel which allows for higher forage production every year if done correctly.

Leaves produce energy through photosynthesis, stems consume energy by respiring.  The ratio of leaf to stem determines forage production and humus buildup.  Cattle also do better on a leafy pasture.

This increase in harvest efficiency means we can take more cow days from each grazing and give longer rest periods to every paddock.  What happens with longer rest periods? Higher total forage production!

What happens to better species composition? The best species are not grazed selectively and have a longer period to establish, grow and reproduce!

This means that, under Total grazing, we not only get more cow/days harvested per acre but also increase the following:

...
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How to increase humus in your land

total grazing Mar 26, 2021

Lately I have observed that many grazers confuse Total grazing with overgrazing or taking all and coming back sooner.

This is NOT Total grazing, and we would not get the huge response we are getting from the land and animals in terms of biodiversity, higher forage production, better leaf to stem ratio, higher humus buildup, better desirable species composition and much higher number of growing points per square yard.


First let’s talk about how most humus is formed: it is not from decaying litter. Now we know that at least 70 percent of humus is formed from digested microorganisms that feed on root exudates.

What are the implications of this? This means that the better the leaf to stem ratio we get after Total grazing gives us a much better photosynthesis rate and more root exudates to feed these microorganisms.

Remember, these microorganisms need to be fat to efficiently be converted to humus with humus being the stable fraction of organic matter that cannot be further...

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Why our stockpile NEEDS to be in AREA and not as leftovers

total grazing Mar 15, 2021
 

Please remember, I will talk about the best 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.

Under selective grazing, because harvest efficiency is much lower, either a much lower stocking rate is needed, or you will need to graze the whole property and call the leftovers stockpile.  But it is NOT.

The leftovers after selective grazing are much lower in quality, as the cows select the best and leave what they do not like (much lower quality in leftovers!), especially as the Winter or dry season advances. This makes the protein supplement costs MUCH higher and your cows body condition much lower which is NOT in your best interest.

Under Total grazing, at the very high stocking rates needed for profitability and to improve your land the fastest, we leave a portion of the ranch to stockpile, in the growing season, with NO grazing there; in this area the roots grow...

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How to allow for best species seedlings to establish, grow and set seed

total grazing Mar 12, 2021
 

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...

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South Glanton Farms, doubled and tripled their forage production in less than a year

 

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...

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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...

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Stock water at very high stocking rates

total grazing Feb 01, 2021
 

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...

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