mob grazing

Help Support CattleToday:

yuppiecowboy

Member
Joined
May 2, 2010
Messages
11
Reaction score
0
Long time listener, first time caller. I could use a little help here. I have read enough about mob grazing to have my interest piqued, but I cant seem to get any real details without buying something. I have a few questions and if anyone has any pictures I would be grateful.

For starters, I am having a hard time wrapping my brain around the stocking rates. It seems impossible. I want to try this on a 5 acre pasture and I have 20 pairs I can put on there. How much grass area would I devote to 20 pairs per day, and would I have enough pasture to rotate them through without kicking them to another pasture altogether to allow regrowth? Do I have to drag after them? Aerate? Overseed?

Any thoughts would be appreciated. I am in Iowa. Mostly bluegrass, some broam, some clover.
 

agmantoo

Well-known member
Joined
Nov 12, 2008
Messages
726
Reaction score
1
Location
zone 7 western NC
I rotational graze. Nothing is for sale here and I am not putting on seminars, writing books or magazine articles. With the information you provided above I believe you will be buying feed in 20 to 25 days. Research Greg Judy. He can graze cockle burrs successfully.
 
OP
Y

yuppiecowboy

Member
Joined
May 2, 2010
Messages
11
Reaction score
0
Thanks for the reply. I am not dependent on the 5 acres supporting 20 pairs, i have plenty of pasture. I am trying to get a grsp of how this works and how many I need to stock the little pasture with to do it right. I am using the little pasture as an experiment of sorts to see how it would work for me.
 
OP
Y

yuppiecowboy

Member
Joined
May 2, 2010
Messages
11
Reaction score
0
What I do is certainly not systematic, therefore not qualified to be called a rotation, but I graze an area, move cows off, move to the next, etc. I am not happy with my grass stands and weeds control and I am impressed by the results I have seen proclaimed by mob grazing. Can I accomplish similar benefits through a disciplined rotational system?
 

agmantoo

Well-known member
Joined
Nov 12, 2008
Messages
726
Reaction score
1
Location
zone 7 western NC
yuppiecowboy":1jl8441z said:
What I do is certainly not systematic, therefore not qualified to be called a rotation, but I graze an area, move cows off, move to the next, etc. I am not happy with my grass stands and weeds control and I am impressed by the results I have seen proclaimed by mob grazing. Can I accomplish similar benefits through a disciplined rotational system?

I am not impressed with mob grazing. If you have access to lots of acreage that you can lease for cheap and can hire a high school student to do the grunt work maybe it will work. It would help if you sold books, articles for magazines, and put on seminars and charged for visits. Those circumstances do not exist here. I sell calves only and will not try to convince you that you can feed cockle burrs. Here I am not a hobby producer and I must generate as much income per limited acre that i own. That means getting every lb per acre as I can produce for the lowest expense. Disciplined management is the only way to successfully do rotational grazing. Only for profit producers seem to put the effort forward to do intensive rotational grazing. I have great grass stands by most peoples standards and few weeds. I do not own any baling equipment nor do I have but a few days of emergency hay in storage. My production costs are low and my calves sell good when marketed. I make a profit. My cattle are suited for my operation. My forage is what grows the best for me on my farm. I continually strive to do better and remain open minded. I know what I do is unconventional and I am often negatively criticized. If this interest you I will help you get started. If you are not committed to succeeding then lets drop the subject. You see anything here that you do not like?
IMG00785.jpg
 
OP
Y

yuppiecowboy

Member
Joined
May 2, 2010
Messages
11
Reaction score
0
You have my undivided attention.

Help me with the concept of stockpiling. How much do I need to stockpile for 50 cows? DO I graze it for a while in the spring early then keep them off the rest of the year? DO I limit feed with a movable hot wire in the winter?

I would very much like to reduce hay feeding. I cant fathom eliminating it entirely given a typical Iowa winter.
 

agmantoo

Well-known member
Joined
Nov 12, 2008
Messages
726
Reaction score
1
Location
zone 7 western NC
yuppiecowboy":2ctvti7f said:
You have my undivided attention.

Help me with the concept of stockpiling. How much do I need to stockpile for 50 cows? DO I graze it for a while in the spring early then keep them off the rest of the year? DO I limit feed with a movable hot wire in the winter?

I would very much like to reduce hay feeding. I cant fathom eliminating it entirely given a typical Iowa winter.


yuppiecowboy

A lot of distance and several hardiness growing zones separate us. I have visited your state but never over wintered. The concept of rotational grazing is rather simple but does require discipline as we mentioned previously. Certain size cattle do work better than others. My cattle are smaller than many of the bovines owned by members of this board. It is a recognized fact than a frame 3.4 to low 4 cow will require less feed. If you are selling into the market (not breeding stock) for your operation to be the most profitable that it can be you must sell what your farm can produce, be it size of feeder calves to the forage that will flourish, with the best margin. My main grass is fescue. Is it the best grass for my live stock? No. Is it the most forage that I can produce for the least expense? Definitely. Will my calves reach market weight the fastest on the fescue? No, but they will reach market weight with the least expense. Will my frame 4 cows impress anyone that visits or rides by? Unlikely. Will they maintain body condition on stockpiled fescue and over winter and cycle timely? You betcha! Therefore do I fall in the same groove (rut) as my neighbors? Not hardly. If feeder calves dropped 50% would I still be profitable? Yes, but I would not like it. These are the reasons I do what I do! Now, yuppiecowboy I must asked are you willing to get in this scheme of things? If so, you are going to have to fly by the seat of the pants on what Iowa issues surface on which I know nothing. If you are committed those should be issues that you will overcome through some solution or compromise of yours. Can I do in Iowa what I do here? I doubt it but I am confident that I can succeed at some level. I faced many of the same obstacles when I first started here with no mentor. I did doubt whether I could ever make it through a Winter with no hay. With success came confidence and finally comfort to where I sold the hay equipment.

To answer your specific questions.
You will always use a movable separating method. I use a pigtail post and polywire. The posts step into the soil with your foot. The polywire is a multi-strand stainless wires and plastic strands intertwined that are lightweight and conduct electricity from a fence charger
Each day with intensive rotational grazing you will allocate what YOU want the cattle to have access. This is a great tool for developing a great forage based low weed infested pasture that will flourish.

Stockpiling for 50 cows requires doing a little math.
Cattle going into Winter need to be in very good body condition.
Calculate when the last forage growth will happen in your location.
Determine how much forage you need per day.
Determine when you think that new growth in the Spring will began.
How many days is the non growing period.
Add about 3 weeks to this non growing period, this is how many days you will need feed.
The feed can come from stockpiled or windrowed forage provided in you situation that the cows get get to it through the snow/ice
Note...Once you start rotational grazing you will be awed by how much further you can go into Winter will your pastures

Yes, you will graze the area that you will eventually stockpile. You will cease to graze in time for the area being stockpiled to recover during the last growing period of Summer/Fall.

I would like you to read this in its entirety. It is long, a lot may not apply but it avoids a lot of typing and possibly some oversight.
http://www.homesteadingtoday.com/showth ... p?t=286704
 

agmantoo

Well-known member
Joined
Nov 12, 2008
Messages
726
Reaction score
1
Location
zone 7 western NC
I have used my herd to "skin" trashy areas of brush and weeds. It did not work very well for me. Tramping trash to the ground but not killing it was a problem as the weeds just made seeds while lying on the ground. Manuring edible or desirable plants creating waste was another problem. My acreage has been improved to where most of it is now in good forage production. Putting too many cattle on a limited area creates soil compaction and is destructive to the root system of the established forages. Most mob grazers that I have read about do not mob graze their own pastures. Instead they lease land. They have only a small investment involved and are out to get as much weight gain as possible baring the consequences or the land is so arid that it is only suitable for a single grazing for many months and they are out to maximize what can be gleaned and do not expect to return anytime soon. As the landowner, the return from mob grazing is too low for the land investment IMO. Abundant cheap land for lease is nonexistent here.
 

novatech

Well-known member
Joined
Dec 21, 2006
Messages
4,830
Reaction score
2
Location
Brenham, Texas
agmantoo":uidh1147 said:
I have used my herd to "skin" trashy areas of brush and weeds. It did not work very well for me. Tramping trash to the ground but not killing it was a problem as the weeds just made seeds while lying on the ground. Manuring edible or desirable plants creating waste was another problem. My acreage has been improved to where most of it is now in good forage production. Putting too many cattle on a limited area creates soil compaction and is destructive to the root system of the established forages. Most mob grazers that I have read about do not mob graze their own pastures. Instead they lease land. They have only a small investment involved and are out to get as much weight gain as possible baring the consequences or the land is so arid that it is only suitable for a single grazing for many months and they are out to maximize what can be gleaned and do not expect to return anytime soon. As the landowner, the return from mob grazing is too low for the land investment IMO. Abundant cheap land for lease is nonexistent here.
I have personally seen 50 stockers grazing 1 acre paddocks, for 2 days and then moved to another paddock, with a total of 20 acres in the rotational system. I have seen the paddocks get better every year. Because it works for him does not mean it will work for you. Because it does not work for you does not mean it does not work. What works for you does not mean your system will work for everyone else.
Rotational grazing has been used so far back I can,t remember. At least back in the early 50's. I thought it was the standard for anybody with cattle.
What hoof action does to the ground is dependant on the soil type and the moisture level at the time the cattle are on it.
 

agmantoo

Well-known member
Joined
Nov 12, 2008
Messages
726
Reaction score
1
Location
zone 7 western NC
novatech

Do you differentiate between intensive rotational grazing and mob grazing? I do. In my interpretation of mob grazing everything is eaten to the ground. With intensive grazing the forage is managed. Possibly we are apart on words only. Currently I have 92 mature cows/heifers and roughly 50 calves grazing approximately 1/2 acre + - every 24 hours.
 

traderaaron

Well-known member
Joined
Feb 5, 2010
Messages
75
Reaction score
0
Mob grazing is about efficient harvesting of grass and the subsequent regrowth of that grass to be harvested again when it's ready.

Ideally the forage you are grazing should be relatively mature and then harvested as effectively as possible using the mob or herd of cattle and grazed down to the point where the grass will regrow as effectively as possible. This is dependent on your soil, grass, climate and the weather year you are having. Having more mature grasses and therefore root structures is important to the health of your pasture, this is more true the more arid the climate.

In some areas this might be grazing a pasture once or twice a year, in others once a week or more perhaps.

You can practice the ideals of mob grazing with lower stocking rates but obviously the cattle will be much more selective in what they eat and you won't get the same grass harvesting effect. Think of the cattle as very efficient mowing machines. During the growing season you want them to eat some of everything, in the winter you'd want them to eat only the highest nutrient value plants.

Here's an article that might be of interest to you, http://www.acresusa.com/toolbox/reprint ... alatin.pdf
 

Lucky_P

Well-known member
Joined
May 21, 2009
Messages
3,444
Reaction score
521
Location
Western KY
I'd be interested to hear Jim Gerrish's take on mob-stocking - he shows up on the board here from time to time.
We've kinda tried to follow his lead on management-intensive grazing since the farm manager/wife attended one of the MU Grazing School sessions back in the mid-90's when he was at the MU grazing center at Linneus, MO.
We're Currently rotating about 85 head of cows, calves, and yearlings through 5-acre paddocks(fescue/orchardgrass/white clover) every 3 days - but need to cut paddock size in half and rotate faster to get better, more uniform utilization. Can't keep up with regrowth at this point in the season, but depending on weather conditions, that will probably change as we get into mid-summer, when crabgrass/johnsongrass/lespedeza will assume more prominence in the sward.

I can see the 'benefits' of mob-stocking, as Salatin described it in the article linked earlier in this thread - if I had free access to overgrown/undergrazed ground - with adequate perimeter fencing and a way to make water available to each new small paddock you moved the cattle to, but I'm not sure it's the way to go on my pastures that are currently in decent condition - looks to me like you sacrifice a lot in forage quality by letting those forages become hypermature before you rotate back to them.
 

agmantoo

Well-known member
Joined
Nov 12, 2008
Messages
726
Reaction score
1
Location
zone 7 western NC
Traderaaron

I read the article you linked me to with great interest. It appears that a new terminology has surfaced referred to as "Ultra High Stock Density". To me it is only semantics and this is what I having been referring to as very high intensive rotational grazing. Mob grazing is not that in my mind, as to what I have been exposed to in other articles. The Ultra High Stock Density grazing is a more managed method in my interpretation.

What is done with the Ultra High Stock Density differs minimally with what I do. The most significant different is the number of animals. I do not have the available acreage dedicated to forage that is used in the article. (Actually I am a tree farmer).

This is the 8th year of doing year round rotational grazing. I started doing rotational grazing on a lesser scale around 1997/1998. I post here to share with others what works for me because I know how trying it was to get started.

Staying open minded is important to me and I appreciate the thoughts of others.

Jim Garrish is "the man IMO"
 

novatech

Well-known member
Joined
Dec 21, 2006
Messages
4,830
Reaction score
2
Location
Brenham, Texas
agmantoo":1dwmk7h0 said:
novatech

Do you differentiate between intensive rotational grazing and mob grazing? I do. In my interpretation of mob grazing everything is eaten to the ground. With intensive grazing the forage is managed. Possibly we are apart on words only. Currently I have 92 mature cows/heifers and roughly 50 calves grazing approximately 1/2 acre + - every 24 hours.
I actually thought they were the same. I have been wrong more than once so correct me if I am. Regardless my understanding is that you take half and leave half. As far as when to put them on the grass it is my understanding it is the same as hay, put them on at boot stage. Some grasses will tolerate being eaten to the ground such as the bermuda's but the bunch grasses do not.
 

cjk

Member
Joined
Apr 27, 2010
Messages
24
Reaction score
0
Location
Klamath Falls, OR
So I have been reading quite a bit about this "mob"/"intensive"/"rotational" grazing. I understand the philosophical differences between the definitions, however I feel there are many of the principles that are constant throughout the different methods.

I also spent the better part of a day reading the 33 pages on the above referenced board. There is some quality info there.

If you have a decent perimeter fence, would you have to light up all 4 sides of each paddock? Or could you have the sides of your watering lane energize your front/back polywire that dead ended into your exitsing perimeter fences? I want to get this up and running, and this appears to be the quickest for my set up to get going.

Thanks
 

regolith

Well-known member
Joined
Jan 17, 2009
Messages
2,795
Reaction score
1
Location
New Zealand
If your boundary fence is normally stock proof, it'll be fine without electricity. Over time, most aren't and running a hot-wire along them is a quick fix and prevents further damage.
 

agmantoo

Well-known member
Joined
Nov 12, 2008
Messages
726
Reaction score
1
Location
zone 7 western NC
cjk
For me the paddocks that work best have two very long permanent sides that are parallel to each other. These two fences can be either perimeter or interior but need to be permanent. In the aforementioned sides, the interior fence needs to only be a single high tensile wire.

The remaining two temporary fence sides consist of movable polywire and step in posts and are usually installed parallel to each other. This arrangement is used to form a variable size paddock (box). Polywire and single wire fences are electrified.

The cattle are put in the paddock to graze. After they have consumed the allotted forage another polywire is erected ahead of the consumed paddock to again allocate forage. The herd is allowed to move into the ungrazed area by opening a "gate" in the now center polywire fence. Once the cattle are on the new forage the "gate" is closed so they cannot return to the consumed paddock. The third polywire fence behind the grazed area is dismantled to be used to establish the new paddock on the next move.

As you can readily understand, this creates in some situations, problems in accessing water. Some people run water underground, some on the surface and some transport water in a truck. With some planning and an occasional permitting of the herd to back graze/travel a consumed paddock you can get them to water. You do what you have to do. I have a few commercial waterers and some underground piping but I still use streams. With planning you may be able to layout the paddocks and create lanes to let the cattle access water. I do this also. I make the lanes wide enough that I can use them as supplemental paddocks and graze them.
 
Top