Sunday, 28 August 2011

Not Enough Cattle!

This was a popular refrain amongst ranchers and farmers practicing mob grazing: "We haven't got enough cattle at the moment".

Although no instant fix, over time mob grazing produces more grass - much more - than under conventional set-stocking regimes. It also requires animal impact, especially in the more non-brittle areas (Allan Savory came up with a brittleness scale, from 1 to 10, with one being very non brittle, humid and damp, and ten being desertlike conditions).

In a non-brittle environment (and Missouri and Mississippi were both lower down on the scale, as would be much of the UK) a lack of cattle numbers or a lack of cattle grazing density has several unintended consequences. One is that the rest period can allow weeds to proliferate in the pasture and lack of density doesn't then have the 'pasture-topping' effect that mob grazers look for from their cattle.

I saw several farms where weeds, in particular ragweed and ironweed, seemed to be shading out more desirable species. The farmers were unanimous in their opinion that, with higher stock density and grazing at the right time of year, they would be able to get the weeds under control.

If only they had more cattle....

Regrowth on a well-managed pasture on Doug Peterson's farm in North Missouri. The pasture shows an excellent mix of warm and cool season grasses and broadleaf plants and will provide excellent forage next time it's grazed, whatever the weather

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