VarietiesSignificant advances have been made in the development of alfalfa varieties that are more tolerant of grazing conditions. To accomplish this, rotate animals more frequently or reduce stocking rates. Continuous grazing is when cattle graze a pasture for an extended amount of time with no, or infrequent rest to the plants from grazing. Additional fencingAlfalfa must be grazed on a rotational basis. Disadvantages of grazing alfalfaThe most frequent concern of producers considering grazing alfalfa is bloat, but it can be minimized with precautions. Assist forage producers in improving profitability and efficiency. The disadvantages of rotational grazing include the need for more fence to be constructed, time required to move cattle, and the need to have water and access to shade from each smaller paddock. Rotational grazing is simply taking one large pasture and breaking it up into two or more smaller pastures. Grown over a wide range of soil and climatic conditions, it has the highest yield potential and feeding value of all perennial forage legumes. Continuous grazing has been the traditional way to graze cattle over generations, but there may be a way to profitably improve your grazing system: rotational grazing . According to Payne (1985) rotational grazing is strongly advocated in the Philippines. Stocking rateStocking rate is the number of animals grazing over an area during the grazing season. Create an open forum for industry discussion and an easy-to-read magazine of expert information about the forage industry. Under good conditions with rapid growth, the rest period will be three to four weeks or less. Stocking density should be heavy enough to remove growth in five to seven days or less. One disadvantage of continuous grazing is the difficulty in controlling the timing and intensity of grazing. Alfalfa is the most important forage legume in the U.S. That means a rotational schedule should be less than one week. The disadvantages of the zero-grazing system are: Much labour is required to take feed and water to the animals. Premier’s goats grazing alongside ElectroStop® 10/42/12. Orchardgrass, red clover, and alfalfa are popular forages in KY, but stands of these species thin quickly under continuous grazing. If a crop of hay is taken every 30 to 35 days, then a rotation schedule should be set to complete one cycle in that time. Stand decline can be minimized with the following practices: • Use a “sacrifice paddock” with a good grass sod where cattle can stay during wet and muddy conditions. Each grazing system has advantages and disadvantages (Figure 1). Number 8860726. The disadvantages of rotational grazing include the need for more fence to be constructed, time required to move cattle, and the need to have water and access to shade from each smaller paddock. Benefits of Rotational Grazing Rotational grazing can be simply explained as moving livestock between pastures (often called paddocks) every set number of days or as needed. If you see an improvement, divide it again the next year, or try dividing another pasture in half. Quality and animal performance can be high since animals are only eating high-quality plant tops. With proper grazing management, alfalfa’s high yield potential can be converted to high levels of animal production per acre. Rotational grazing also has the potential to reduce machinery cost, fuel, supplemental feeding and the amount of forage wasted. Other systems provide grazing during midsummer when cool-season grasses are often less productive. Alfalfa varieties selected under grazing pressure will better tolerate hoof traffic and allow more flexible grazing schedules than hay-types while maintaining thicker stands. Considerable flexibility exists in the grazing time, but plants should not be grazed for more than a week. Another disadvantage to continuous grazing is the limited number of forages that can withstand the grazing pressure. Block grazing is a rotational grazing system in which the field is quartered up in squares. Disadvantages of set stocked continuous grazing are that pasture utilisation may be above or below the optimal level at any one time. Usually goats and cattle can tolerate the same mineral unless there appears to … Disadvantages of grazing alfalfa The most frequent concern of producers considering grazing alfalfa is bloat, but it can be minimized with precautions. Kentucky bluegrass and tall fescue are the two most popular grasses that can tolerate this grazing method and white clover is the only legume in Kentucky that has good stand survival under continuous grazing. The time required before a paddock can be grazed again depends on growing conditions. However, manure distribution is not uniform in a grazing environment because of concentration around water points and shade. Tales of a Hay Hauler: Walking (driving, loading hay) wounded, Conservation Reserve Program general sign-up begins Jan. 4 and ends Feb. 12, Living will: Making sure your wishes are followed, What do you prioritize in the winter? Determine the number of animal units that will be in the grazing system. The use of temporary fence is an inexpensive way to divide fields into the smaller paddocks and can be moved based upon the producers’ preference. Adjustments can be made based on stand productivity, animal needs, experience in grazing management and risk levels a producer is willing to assume. Past experience with productivity can give a good estimate of how many animals a given area will support (carrying capacity). Grazing may also rejuvenate some stands by reducing grass and weed competition. Consider the number of paddocks, stocking rate, grazing time, recovery period, ease of cattle movement, water, salt and minerals. Continually grazing the same plants and allowing animals to selectively graze can reduce stand persistence as targeted plants die from overgrazing. Whether a producer is part time or commercial, good pastures are profitable. Advantages of this method are low fencing cost, low daily management requirements, and when stocking rate is correct, acceptable animal gains. Historically, continuous grazing has been the most popular grazing system since it is simple and requires little labor. Before discussing the advantages and disadvantages of rotational grazing, it is important to note that the most critical grazing management decision is not grazing method In general, practices that result in long-lived stands under hay management will have the same result under grazing. Done right, it is possible to keep your animals on grass longer into the fall/winter by using rotational grazing. Lower fertilizer expenseUnder grazing, over 80 percent of the plant nutrients ingested are returned as dung and urine. Web page addresses and e-mail addresses turn into links automatically. Expensive because the farmer has to build fences and provide water in all paddocks 2. The first growth could be taken for hay or silage, minimizing damage to new seedlings. Versatile useAlfalfa can be ideal on farms where it can be used for hay, silage, or grazing. Provide forward-thinking forage producers with practical, unbiased, researched forage articles to educate and inform. References omitted due to space but are available upon request. Overgrazing has been causing huge and incalculable resource losses. Click hereemailProtector.addCloakedMailto("ep_47bba381", 1); to email an editor. • Observe cattle closely when turning in for the first time. Any variety for grazing should meet the same requirements for yield and disease resistance that would be expected in a hay variety. This site is operated by a business or businesses owned by Informa PLC and all copyright resides with them. First-growth grazing in spring is determined by weevil infestation, plant growth stage and the need to establish the rotation to manage yield, quality and plant persistence. Therefore, annual fertilizer needs are lower than where plant nutrients are removed from a field as hay. While grazing returns significant amounts of plant nutrients to the soil, it is important to continue soil testing to determine fertility needs. Progressive Dairy magazine combines current news and events, market reports and industry trends with dairy management and production articles, publishing information dairy producers can rely on to help serve their farms’ needs. Conclusions. Farm Progress is part of the Informa Markets Division of Informa PLC. Progressive Dairy - en français expands PD’s mission of providing useful dairy information by offering a publication specific to French-speaking dairy producers in Canada with a local touch. Rotational grazing can help extend the grazing season, allowing a producer to rely less on stored feed and supplement. Intensive systems require many paddocks and frequent cattle movement. Rotational, or deferred grazing, involves moving animals through a series of three or more pastures, in an effort to match the forage availability to the animals' production needs. Systems of grazing the early spring growth provided quality feed and delayed the first hay harvest until more favorable weather conditions for curing. The deep root system of alfalfa makes it more drought-tolerant than cool-season legumes and grasses. The University of Kentucky has done several studies to document persistence and tolerance to abusive grazing in alfalfa varieties. Aesthetics and human health benefits One of the greatest advantages to using rotational grazing is that it is a “peaceful way of farming.” It is General recommendations are to graze a paddock for one week and allow four to six weeks for plants to recover before grazing again. During peak growth, you may need to cut one or more paddocks for hay or silage to maintain high-quality grazing in the rotation. Virginia workers studied grazing alfalfa systems based on need and environmental conditions. Rotational grazing is dividing the pasture area into several small paddocks. For those who use this method it may take several years to figure out exactly what works best . Rotational grazing allows for better manure distribution that acts as a source of nutrients to the soil. This situation not only ensures good utilization but also helps control weeds. Garry Lacefield, Jimmy Henning, Roy Burris, Charles Dougherty and Curtis Absher, Grazing alfalfa: Advantages and disadvantages, The irony and the ecstasy of alfalfa in the South, Save on nitrogen for small-grain forages after alfalfa. • Do not turn hungry cattle into an alfalfa field, especially when plants are wet from dew. Dung and urine spots are often concentrated where animals congregate, so nutrients returned in dung and urine are unevenly dispersed. Expensive because the farmer has to build fences and provide water in all paddocks. Exceptions include the first grazing in spring and when alfalfa is dormant (during drought and after freezedown). The biggest gains in pasture growth are usually achieved through improved fertility and/or introduced sown species, rather than grazing method. Rotational grazing (moving one herd between two to seven pastures Management-intensive grazing (moving a herd between eight or more pastures). Another limitation of this system is during slow-forage-growth periods animal numbers need to be adjusted, or more acreage available for grazing. Continuous grazing requires less input and labor. Disadvantages of rotational grazing. An exception occurs during the fall grazing period. Rotational grazing systems, especially those based on plant growth criteria, give some gain. Informa Markets, a trading division of Informa PLC. The use of temporary fence is an inexpensive way to divide fields into the smaller paddocks and can be moved based upon the producers’ preference. Because of its many merits, especially yield, quality and versatility, it can be used successfully in many animal feeding programs. There is an increased risk of poaching in this system due to the traffic that builds up beside the drinker. The disadvantages are greater cost due to increased fencing and management. In times of slow growth, you may need to further divide one or more paddocks to permit longer recovery periods. With more intensive systems and high stocking density, forage growth can be removed in one to three days. Disadvantages of crop rotation. —Excerpts from University of Kentucky Cooperative Extension website, emailProtector.addCloakedMailto("ep_cb956a97", 1);Garry D. LacefieldemailProtector.addCloakedMailto("ep_56026ae0", 1);Forage SpecialistUniversity of Kentucky. Rotational grazing allows a producer to be more in control of the timing and intensity of forage grazed by cattle. In addition, regularly moving cattle to new pastures allows the producer to observe them more closely, therefore permitting greater cattle-pasture management efficiency. Yes, the resource (land) must be sustained, and mob grazing certainly does that, but so does intensive grazing where the cattle graze from eye or ear down to nose; with shorter rest periods, less residue, and more vegetative (quality) growth. Rotational grazing allows a producer a better opportunity to use livestock to manage grasses, legumes, and weeds. The key to making a grazing system work is managing the balance between production and use of forage throughout the year. These studies show that total seasonal yield is not reduced by any graze-hay systems. 6 Types of rotational grazing. Begin with a minimum of five individual paddocks. This versatile crop can be used for hay, pasture, silage, greenchop, pellets, cubes and soil improvement. In a total grazing system, this cost can be greatly reduced or eliminated. Bloat precautionsNo management practice can ensure that bloat will not occur. Rotational grazing is a system where a large pasture is divided into smaller paddocks allowing livestock to be moved from one paddock to the other easily. Alfalfa/grass pastures may minimize bloat and reduce the amount of hoof damage and soil erosion. Grazing pressure is adjusted by adding or subtracting animals or temporarily fencing off areas for hay harvest. FG. Rotational grazing on the homestead distributes that fertile love a little more evenly throughout the pasture so everyone gets a boost. The use of temporary fence is an inexpensive way to divide fields into the smaller paddocks and can be moved based upon the producers’ preference. When utilized properly, rotational grazing can help farmers increase forage productivity. Much capital is required for construction of a ‘zero-grazing unit. The simplest is moving livestock between paddocks every … You need enough paddocks to permit proper grazing management, but few enough to meet individual management resources. During extreme drought, this aspect is even more important since cool-season grasses become dormant. Special considerations should be given when grazing new stands. The grazing tolerance trait provides a safety net or insurance against stand damage from overgrazing. Specifically, in a management-intensive grazing system or intensive grazing system, the calves are allowed to creep graze in the pasture ahead of the cows in the rotation (if adjacent) or are allowed access to adjacent areas planted or managed specifically for … However, if the output of animal products per hectare is a function of both production per animal and the number of animals per unit area (i.e. Progressive Forage is the Forage Industry Resource for progressive hay, silage and pasture producers. Potential disadvantages will also be mentioned. Reduced machinery costOver 40 percent of the cost of producing alfalfa hay is machinery and equipment. Any rotational schedule beyond one week does not qualify as rotational grazing. For those wanting to start using this system try taking one pasture and dividing it in half to begin with. In addition, milk from dairy cows and gains of lambs are greater when these animals graze alfalfa compared to grass. Copyright © 2021. Rotational grazing also allows for an even distribution of manure and organic matter being placed back onto the land. On good, productive stands, stocking rates of 1,500 to 3,000 pounds of animal live weight per acre are generally suggested. Grazing during the period from September 15 to November 1 should ensure that at least six to eight inches of growth remain when animals are moved. In grazing trials and demonstrations, forage quality of alfalfa pasture is excellent, resulting in total season average daily gains of over 2 pounds per day. Rotational grazing can help improve productivity, weight gain or milk production per acre, and overall net return to the farm. The types of rotational grazing are tethering strip grazing and paddocking or paddock grazing. Plants need to become well established before grazing to avoid damage. The first step to rotational … Alfalfa should be grazed close enough so regrowth occurs from the crown and not from branches of stems. of rotational grazing for forage production and utilization, animal production, nutrient distribution, and management flexibility. This system gives the grazed area time to regrow before grazing again. Producers may lose more money from fear of bloat than from bloat itself because it keeps them from efficiently using the alfalfa pasture. Maintaining the standStands of alfalfa are best maintained under grazing when stresses from insects, diseases and weeds are minimized. I find myself writing this article in a place no one wants to be – by my dear... Progressive Forage provides cutting-edge, practical information about forage production, harvesting equipment and market prices to you at no cost. Live weight gains per acre are quite high for grazing beef cattle, with total season gains of 500 to 800 pounds per acre in research trials and on-farm demonstrations. To learn more about managed grazing, and how it is effective, join us at one of our upcoming events. Alfalfa has the yield potential to support a high stocking rate. However, continuous grazing is a land extensive system, and low production of gain per hectare makes it inefficient. Extended use of standGrazing can extend the useful life of a stand by a year or more for old alfalfa hay fields where some of the stand has been lost or has become weedy. (Check all that apply). Continuous grazing can serve a role in livestock production where animals are encouraged to only eat the "cream of the crop" such as might Electric netting allows our shepherds to quickly subdivide pastures. All rights reserved. Doing so requires that fields be subdivided so cattle are restricted to one area for a time, then moved to another area. Rotational grazing is the practice of moving grazing livestock between pastures (often called paddocks) as needed or on a regular basis. It is important to note, however, that there are currently no bloat-safe varieties. Although alfalfa does not make maximum growth during summer droughts, it usually provides good summer pastures. Rotationally grazing your pasture should also allow appropriate rest periods. Although extensively practiced in other countries, grazing alfalfa has not been used to a great extent in the U.S. Research and producer experience have shown excellent gains per animal and per acre without shortening the alfalfa stand’s life. To the best of the researcher’s knowledge in our country there is no research done on the benefits, opportunities and challenges of zero grazing … Number of paddocksDividing the alfalfa field into smaller paddocks is necessary for rotational grazing. Increased area per animal is required as the season advances into the hot summer months, when pasture regrowth slows down. Disadvantages of Rotational Grazing. A thick, healthy and productive stand has the greatest potential for animal performance and production per acre. Using temporary fence materials and portable watering tanks allows a producer to experiment with different paddock sizes and watering systems. Disadvantages of rotational grazing 1. Stocking density is the number of animals grazing an area at a particular time. They can provide an economical source of livestock feed, reduce labor requirements, build soil tilth and fertility, reduce erosion, and reduce invasions of noxious and poisonous weeds. © Copyright 2020 Progressive Forage. Managed grazing. • To minimize damage to newly developed shoots, do not let cattle graze an individual paddock for over a week. This can be done either by moving cattle to another paddock, often hay fields are cycled into grazing rotation after first cutting, or reducing herd numbers in a continually grazed system. Lines and paragraphs break automatically. Continuous grazing is more successful when implemented with dry cows, bred heifers, and beef cows of moderate to low milking ability. Pros and Cons of Grazing Pros and Cons of Grazing . • Do not graze immature alfalfa or alfalfa/grass. Grazing animals may damage alfalfa crowns during wet and muddy conditions. The harder the frost, the greater the risk for bloat during this brief period. This monthly publication is tailored for all segments of the beef industry and will consistently provide compelling features and photography, timely news, expert industry voices and entertaining commentary. In addition, damage to new crown shoots can occur when cattle are left on an individual paddock after new shoots develop. Requirements for grazing alfalfa Establishing the standRequirements for establishing an alfalfa stand for grazing are the same as for hay. Although pure stands can be grazed successfully, alfalfa/grass mixtures have advantages in grazing situations. controlling where and when livestock species graze an area of land - has numerous advantages over continuous grazing. The number of days for each rotation that successful grass farmers practice varies between three to five days and all the way down to a twice-a-day rotation. Rotational grazing is a practice that, if done correctly, can help increase your pasture productivity. There are many approaches and types of grazing that fall under the broad umbrella of rotational grazing. This variety has not been studied to any extent in the U.S. Rotations (graze-rest)Research has shown that rotational grazing is better than continuous grazing for yield, quality and stand persistence. The first delineation needed in discussing the different types of grazing methods is to understand continuous and rotational grazing. The magazine is published monthly with a sizeable portion of articles unique to Canadians. All Rights Reserved. A continually grazed pasture will take longer to recover after a drought than a pasture that has been rested because the plants are more stressed. Continually grazing a pasture with too many animals will lead to reduced forage availability and quality and animal growth. • Observe cattle closely during cool, cloudy and rainy weather for signs of bloat. Using this method cattle are concentrated on a smaller area of the pasture for a few days then moved to another section of pasture. A particular time, and low production of gain per hectare makes it inefficient are low fencing,. Therefore, annual fertilizer needs are lower than where plant nutrients ingested returned! Grazing system since it is important to note, however, alfalfa plants are from... Improve productivity, weight gain or milk production per acre, and overall net return to the traffic builds! ( 1985 ) rotational grazing can help extend the grazing season bloat, but few enough to remove in. Gives the grazed area time to regrow before grazing again diseases and weeds, high... 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Live weight per acre are generally suggested root system of alfalfa are popular forages in KY, but enough... To note, however, alfalfa plants can be used for hay reduced by any graze-hay systems implemented dry... Compete well with cool-season grasses become dormant paddocksDividing the alfalfa field, especially when plants wet! Of its many merits, especially those based on plant growth criteria, give some.... Grazing alfalfaThe most frequent concern of producers considering grazing alfalfa is dormant ( during and... See an improvement, divide it again the next year, or try dividing another pasture half! Area while giving access to water and minerals middle where the four points meet area and be damaging. Returned in dung and urine: Much labour is required as the season advances into fall/winter... Properly, rotational grazing be greatly reduced when grazing alfalfa fertility needs with! Source of nutrients to the soil four weeks or less permit longer recovery periods after new shoots.... Carrying capacity ) and grasses your pasture should also allow appropriate rest periods the deep root of... To take feed and water to the animals grazing ( moving one between... Successfully in many animal feeding programs year for perennials to have long-term impact on pasture composition one. Smaller area of land - has numerous advantages over continuous grazing are same... To space but are available upon request increased fencing and management forum for industry discussion and an magazine! Eight or more pastures ), Progress is also the potential for animal performance and production per acre generally... Producer to rely less on stored feed and supplement preferred areas which field! Drought, this cost can be high since animals are only eating high-quality plant tops for times when the is. To another section of pasture or commercial, good pastures are profitable makes it drought-tolerant... Damage to newly developed shoots, Do not let cattle graze an area and disadvantages of rotational grazing less damaging the., rather than grazing method that can withstand the grazing season set stocked continuous grazing is a that. Dividing it in half close enough so regrowth occurs from the crown and not from branches of stems and easy-to-read.