Livestock grazing renaissance emerging

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Intensive grazing, also referred to as mob grazing, incorporates a simple strategy to reduce actual input costs while maximizing conservation values. What is intensive grazing? In the case of small or large scale ranches, it simply requires the strategy of moving your livestock, every 12 hours, into small confined pastures that have not been grazed up to 40 days. The pasture is never grazed below 9 inches of growth which encourages a quicker, thicker regrowth and a deeper, hardier root system. It also chokes out the weed seed germination cycle.

The small pasture area creates a heavy livestock fertilizing and tilling process through livestock trampling. It also provides a steady, naturally sweet and savory new feed in which the livestock learn to expect every 12 hours. The livestock and the rancher become unified within their relationship.

The conservation values are huge. Thicker thatch conserves on water usage. Deeper roots create a hardier, drought resistant crop. Greater bio-available nutrients are released through enhanced soil microbial activity. Savings are garnered by eliminating periodic mechanical tilling, petroleum based fertilizers and deadly herbicides. Albeit, the labor input is greater to create small electrified pastures, twice per day, to accommodate livestock shifting.

Enhanced re-mineralization of your lands can be attained through a thoughtful livestock mineral supplement which goes right back into your soil. Organic status can be attained which may increase your market demand and profits. Some would agree that purchasing calves in the spring and selling them in the fall is the best way to minimize overwintering risks and maximizing annual profits. The alternative would be to calve in the late winter months and to provide high quality hay/alfalfa livestock feed, known to be fertilized and preferably of a non GMO product which will maximize nitrogen release back into your fields; let someone else pay for the nitrogen rich fertilizer that directly benefits your land. And finally, allow some feed waste by dropping a large round in place, without spreading. This will cause your livestock to thoroughly trample and fertilize that immediate area, producing massive soil enrichment, thus growth next season.

David Passieri, St. Ignatius

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