Grazing Management — Increasing Forage Production
Continuous grazing is when livestock have access to the entire forage system at all times. Continuous is by far the easiest system to manage and requires less initial inputs but could have costly impacts. Rotational grazing, or allowing livestock to only access part of a forage system at a time, does require more inputs like fences, water, feed bunks, man power, management decisions, etc. However, rotational has the potential to increase forage production (by almost doubling lbs per acre) , increase nutrient distribution, reduce overgrazing, and allow for increased stocking rates. Switching to a rotational grazing system could potentially reduce supplemental feed costs, reduce the need for fertilizer, increase desirable forage growth while suppressing growth of weeds, and allow ranch managers to inspect the herd more often for possible health problems which could increase herd health.
So how do you switch from a continuous grazing style to rotational?
Easy, come up with a plan first.
Your plan should include the cost of additional fencing (permanent or temporary), additional feed/water troughs, as well as the number of livestock in the system. Next, determine how you will design your paddocks, how big they will be, and how long livestock will stay in one area. Most grasses do well with 21 days of rest after being grazed to the recommended stubble height. The recommended stubble height for Bahia is 2 inches and Bermuda is 3-4 inches.
With permanent or temporary fencing
With Multiple Grazing Species
There are many types of grazing management systems and not every one will work in every ranch situation. The main limiting factors are budget and man power, both of which are hard to over come. Contact me to talk about possible options for your operation that can increase the production of your herd and in turn increase your profits! More info here: http://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/ag268