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benefits of rotational grazing cattle

refers to the allowance of a group of grazing livestock to selectively choose what forage they eat in a large pasture for the duration of the growing season. There are many benefits to this strategy as rotational grazing allows producers to utilize their pastures more efficiently by decreasing feed costs, decreasing weed pressure present in a pasture setting, improving the health and performance of grazing flocks, and contributing to the sustainability of the grazing land. The content of this site is published by the site owner(s) and is not a statement of advice, opinion, or information pertaining to The Ohio State University. If it turns dry, what should we do differently than if we had a better year?” asks Hall. Cattle can be moved just by putting a couple of tall sticks or pieces of PVC pipe in the fence line for a few moments, to raise the electric wire enough for cattle to go under it and into the next paddock. Ranchers are limited on public range when trying to graze certain areas at certain times, since there are constraints on when various pastures or allotments can be used. “In a pasture being grazed continuously, without rotation, cattle keep re-grazing the short spots, seeking out Phase 1 grass. Rotational grazing systems are generally the most efficient way to get the best use of pastures and maximum beef production per acre, as well as being healthier for the land and plants. Rotational grazing with more than one species of livestock usually increases the efficiency of forage utilization and reduces the intensity of “landscape maintenance” practices such as mowing, chopping, or herbicide application. 4. There are many variables regarding the best number of days spent in a paddock. The mixture of grasses lets producers take advantage of different growth patterns to allow time for regrowth to extend grazing, says Mallory. Registered in England and Wales. Do you have enough fencing, both permanent and temporary, as well as an adequate water source? https://www.beefmagazine.com/sites/all/themes/penton_subtheme_beefmagazine/images/logos/footer.png. Once cattle learn they can do this, they can be easily moved without gates. Elevation, climate, types of plants, terrain, whether it’s irrigated or dryland, etc., will all be factors. Beef Magazine is part of the Informa Markets Division of Informa PLC. This is because cattle have a higher level of preference for grass, goats for woody plants, and sheep for forbs. The Benefits of Rotational Grazing Hart Dairy / 2 days ago / Animal welfare , Grass , Regenerative Farming , Sustainability , Cows , Rotational Grazing At Hart Dairy, we know that in order to produce the best feed from our pastures, we must manage those pastures in a more sustainable way. Good grazing practices are often thought of as rotational grazing, but this is at best a half-truth. Rotational grazing is a farming process that strategically moves livestock around a pasture by way of temporarily partitioning certain areas. Understanding the growth phases of forage, the amount of residual feed to leave and when the animals need to be moved is crucial, especially with cool-season grasses, or they won’t grow back very well. Improved herd health: Although often an unintended, improved herd health is a common side effect of rotational grazing. Remember, water sources for grazing livestock should be within 800 feet for effective grazing management. Rotational grazing has many benefits – all leading to higher profits on your land: Increased soil fertility ... underpins our range of world-leading livestock feeding solutions. Electric netting allows our shepherds to quickly subdivide pastures. John Hall, superintendent of the University of Idaho’s Nancy M. Cummings Research, Extension and Education Center near Salmon, says rotational grazing is always a very positive tool for stock producers, especially on irrigated ground. Properly managed livestock grazing helps to reduce fire hazards by controlling the amount and distribution of grasses and other potential fuel. Web page addresses and e-mail addresses turn into links automatically. “Ranchers who calve in January and February, hitting peak lactation in March and April, have the highest energy demand before they have good grass. One common method is to create large pastures with permanent fencing and then subdivide them with temporary electric fencing. A gentle herd first begins in the “wintering lot” where cattle are “bucket broke.” The Pembertons buy 450- to 600-pound black Angus heifers from private treaties. Rotational Grazing Benefits: South Dakota Producer Perceptions. As we approach fall like temperatures, forage growth patterns will begin to change. Remove cattle from cornstalks when soils begin to thaw, Cover crops offer potential grazing benefit for cattle operations. Instead of letting animals continuously graze down an entire pasture, the animals are herded into a section of the pasture for a short period of time. Related: South Dakota rancher uses cover crops, rotational grazing to extend grazing period. “This Phase 2 growth continues until the mass of the plant is requiring a lot of energy just to maintain its structure. “I’ve been doing this for more than 30 years, and I still make my share of mistakes and learn something new each season,” says Gerrish. Rotational grazing can result in a decrease in feed costs as grazing livestock will be harvesting their own feed, which in turn will decrease the cost of labor and time in harvesting and feeding stored forages. Here's a solid refresher on rotational grazing for cattle ranchers. Rotational grazing also allows for an even distribution of manure and organic matter being placed back onto the land. In turn, there will be an increase in animal gain as these animals will be consuming highly palatable and digestible forages. – Matt Blose, Marissa Friel, Courtney Hale, Maureen Hirzel, OSU Animal Science Undergraduate Students, and Brady Campbell, Program Coordinator, OSU Sheep Team. DeLaune is researching the integration of cover crops and livestock into cotton-wheat rotation systems, including grazing after cotton harvest. “If the irrigation system breaks down and takes a few days to fix, or it doesn’t rain, or whatever, we may have to be willing to feed hay at a time of year we hate to feed hay, just to give those pastures enough time to recover,” he explains. When done properly, pasture rotation can prevent overgrazing, aid optimal regrowth of plants and allow the same piece of ground to be grazed several times during growing season. The Pembertons see several benefits of rotational grazing, such as pasture rest, time for regrowth and soil conservation. When you go from a dry cow (maintenance requirements) to peak lactation, you’ve doubled the demand on the pastures — even before you add in the calf. Grazing multiple species allows you to increase your stocking density without overloading your pastures. Regarding rotation grazing management in general, Hall’s advice is to learn the basics and then try to customize them to your ranch — always keeping the need for flexibility in mind. The Wildland Vegetation program incorporates due consideration for the forage needs of deer and other wildlife, erosion control, and a desire for protection of sensitive environments. Animals that heavily graze a specific area can benefit the land by consuming and or physically destroying weed populations. When conducted at a high level of intensity, rotational grazing can also offer your grazing animals feedstuffs of high quality depending upon the maturity stage of plant growth. For example, in a continuous grazing scenario, organic matter distribution may be sporadic as higher levels of organic matter would be found in areas of shade or a water source as animals may have a preference for these types of environments. Stocking rate should always focus on forage demand rather than cow numbers. If you have superior milking cows, they need almost twice the energy at peak lactation as they did when they were dry. “Wheel lines can cross over [electric fences] because they are not a physical barrier — especially if you run the fence perpendicular to the wheel line path. “Basic techniques for rotation grazing management can be learned in workshops like the Lost River Grazing School in Lemhi County [Idaho], but then you must adapt those basics to your situation and your particular ranch,” says Hall. However, an important thought to consider is if your sheep are grazing a specific plant, is it considered a weed? On private range, ranchers have more options to do what might be best for the land and cattle, using innovations and flexibility. However, stocking rates and pasture moves aren’t a static thing. Cattle producers can reap financial benefits, as well as lowering their carbon footprint, by using the adaptive multi-paddock rotational grazing method. A publication of the Ohio State University Extension Beef Team. Editor’s note: In talking with longtime BEEF readers, a top concern is helping people new to the business understand the art as well as the science of raising cattle. Related: How to build a low-maintenance cowherd. Spam protection has stopped this request. Overgrazing can happen whenever cattle are allowed to return to the same plants, keeping them grazed down into Phase 1. There isn’t much flexibility on turnout and move dates; timing is set on a calendar. So, ride or walk your pastures to learn what they are telling you. However, once your flock is out to pasture, the work certainly does not stop here. One of the most desirable attributes of this system is that a producer can design it to fit their needs. There are many approaches and types of grazing that fall under the broad umbrella of rotational grazing. “We take the cattle off when grass is eaten down toward the lower height of Phase 2. You must be cautious as you monitor the growth and regrowth of your pastures. Uniform consumption of forage Being in a smaller area means nearly all of the forage gets attention, leaving a uniformly grazed pasture area when the cattle move on. Rotational grazing can help extend the grazing season, allowing a producer to rely less on stored feed and supplement. One obvious benefit to this management scheme that was previously mentioned above is a decrease in total feeding costs. Keep in mind that rotational grazing is simply an organized method of managing grazing livestock. This may vary from north to south in the U.S., but studies show that by keeping forages in their rapid-growth stage more of the time, rotational grazing reduces the need to feed hay by about 30%. It’s healthier for the pasture. Properly managed pasture-based systems use land efficiently and provide high production per acre. Case Study 2: Elk in Montana. This method of grazing has low input costs, low labor requirements, and allows for livestock to choose what plants they wish to consume. The growth rate is very fast for a while, then slows to nothing, so it’s hard to keep everything in Phase 2 in a continuously grazed pasture. There is also some shading of the lower leaves and some leaves dying. If the pasture is in a recovery period and not grazed, plants start to accumulate enough leaf area to be able to grow more rapidly. The reduced need for pesticides in rotational grazing systems benefits all. The main benefits of rotational grazing stem from a focus on plant growth phase. There are numerous benefits to multi-species grazing, especially for those who start out with rural or mountain properties (rather than pastures) that have marginal grazing land in need of improvement. In its simplest form, rotational grazing is described as moving grazing livestock from one paddock to another, allowing time for the previously grazed pasture to regrow prior to the next grazing event. Cornstalk grazing: What supplementation is needed? When livestock graze large pastures, they tend to repeatedly graze preferred areas. “The goal of rotational grazing is hold the grass in Phase 2 for as much of the season as possible by letting pastures recover periodically,” he explains. These pieces of land are usually described as marginal. “One of the problems in thinking about rotational grazing is the tendency to think one size fits all, and that there’s a particular way to set up pastures and move cows,” says Hall. This can encourage cows to go places they might not graze otherwise and help with grazing distribution. First, you need to take into account several factors such as land availability, rotation schedule, number of animals being grazed, and forage availability. Plants are grazed in their vegetative state for relatively short periods, compared with continuous grazing, which reduces the tendency for preferred species to be grazed out. If you leave animals on a piece of land for too long, they’ll eat down … While these articles will focus on the basics, it may be that old-timers can pick up a tip or two as well. Those will change from year to year, as Mother Nature dictates. “A person can often get by moving cow-calf pairs just once a week, however. Clean water is important for good animal performance. Because goats eat things like woody brush, forbs, and problem weeds, they can take care of those plants while your cattle will prefer to graze legumes and common grasses. Adjusting recovery periods to encourage maximum grass growth and keep most of it in Phase 2 is a juggling act. There are many benefits to this strategy as rotational grazing allows producers to utilize their pastures more efficiently by decreasing feed costs, decreasing weed pressure present in a pasture setting, improving the health and performance of grazing flocks, and contributing to the sustainability of the grazing land. It’s most common in pastures that are continuously grazed, without rotation — but it can also happen in a rotation program if you leave cattle in a paddock too long, or if your recovery period is too short. The key to rotational grazing or trying to expand the grazing season with pasture management is to try a new idea, on a small scale, before you change your whole system. Number 8860726. The Wallaces currently run 40 cows, 230 ewes and 40 nannies on several hundred acres that are cross-fenced into small paddocks for rotational grazing. However, mob grazing does have some distinct benefits: 1. As a result, the cool season forages will slow in growth and in turn will require a longer period of time needed for adequate regrowth to occur prior to the next grazing event. This is stressful for plants because they don’t have enough leaf area to support maintenance,” he says. healthy livestock also build and maintain healthy soils. All rights reserved. “This means we must be flexible and do some things that maybe weren’t planned,” Hall says. Please contact site owner for help. The pipes are tall enough to pass over the fence, as long as you don’t have the fence where the wheels have to go across,” he says. Salt placement was traditionally used to distribute cattle where we want them, but we also use water and supplement tubs as management tools,” Hall says. You run into situations each year that you haven’t encountered before, as well as learn from your mistakes. If you can run yearlings part of the season, or keep more heifers than you need, selling some after they are bred, you can adjust the stocking rate to try to match the grass supply. Rotational grazing is the practice of moving grazing livestock between pastures (often called paddocks) as needed or on a regular basis. Irrigated land is high-priced compared to rangeland, and the cost of irrigation in labor and energy input to run a pump or pivot is a major item. “The first is when grass comes out of dormancy in spring, or after being harvested short. This makes the recovery periods longer than they can afford to have,” he says. It takes a while to get enough leaf area to capture adequate solar energy for rapid growth,” he says. “Stockmen who try to do rotational grazing and find they are still running out of grass are usually grazing it too short. There are many benefits to this strategy as rotational grazing allows producers to utilize their pastures more efficiently by decreasing feed costs, decreasing weed pressure present in a pasture setting, improving the health and performance of grazing flocks, and contributing to the sustainability of the grazing land. Ag Economy Barometer rises in December 2020, Vaccine successfully treats bovine anaplasmosis, Taiwan president urges easing of beef, pork trade barriers, Cedar fight goes across fence and state lines, South Dakota rancher uses cover crops, rotational grazing to extend grazing period, Salt placement was traditionally used to distribute cattle, Allowed HTML tags:


. In practice, animals move from paddock to paddock mirroring the natural herding behaviour of animals. A managed rotational grazing system needs to be implemented which subdivides the pasture into smaller paddocks. We are back at it again with our Ag-notes from the students of the 2018 Small Ruminant Production course. This is something each individual producer must determine, regarding available labor,” says Hall. Learning how to adjust the grazing and recovery periods is an art. If we graze it too hard, all the way back to Phase 1 — stripping the plant of leaves — it takes longer to recover and needs a longer rest period during the growing season,” he says. Designing and spacing watering tanks can keep grazing animals away from stream and increase grazing utilization of the pasture. Try something on a small scale at first, then work your way into it as you discover what works best for you. Their land is a mixture of mid-tall grass prairie, former cropland and abandoned cattle feedlots. In a cow-calf operation, this is the greatest challenge for keeping the forage supply and animal demand in balance. Informa Markets, a trading division of Informa PLC. Benefits of Rotational Grazing Rotational grazing provides many benefits and opportunities for livestock owners. “This is the part you can’t learn from a book or a workshop. Among the four benefits listed, faster drought recovery was most highly rated by users, in that nearly 50% of the users perceived significant benefit of rotational grazing when it comes to the increased resilience of grassland to drought. The information provided above is an outline of the benefits and keys considerations to help aid in the success of this management system. Your local Extension or Natural Resources Conservation Service folks can provide advice on establishing and maintaining pastures, but how you manage them will determine the ongoing health and quality of those pastures. On a dry year when grasses become short on protein, cows will readily eat a protein supplement, and you can move the location of their grazing with movement of supplement tubs. This site is operated by a business or businesses owned by Informa PLC and all copyright resides with them. Jim Gerrish, American GrazingLands Services, May, Idaho, says grass growth involves three phases. Pastures and paddock setups can also make a difference in what’s most feasible. Smith Thomas is a rancher and freelance writer based in Salmon, Idaho. It is possible to use cattle farming as a tool to improve soil quality and forage production. by Troy Smith, field editor @Enticed by the potential benefits, including increased quantity and quality of forage produced, im-proved utilization of available forage and increased carrying capacity, Dan Stelling applied rotational-grazing … Holistic planned grazing forms just one part of a wider holistic management framework. Copyright © 2021. Premier’s goats grazing alongside ElectroStop® 10/42/12. Neither text, nor links to other websites, is reviewed or endorsed by The Ohio State University. Grazing management for cattle attempts to maintain high quality, high volume, somewhat uniform grass production to optimize animal performance and production. Cattle will generally do most of their grazing within 800 feet of a water source. Grazing Benefits Regenerative grazing is a principle-driven agricultural practice of building soil health by managing livestock on perennial and annual forages, and in a way that supports human and ecosystem health, farm profitability, and community and food system resilience. Another benefit of rotational grazing is that cattle become gentler with regular human contact during moves to fresh paddocks. This form is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply. While in this Ag-note the benefits of rotational grazing were demonstrated with sheep, the advantages remain similar for all grazing species. “A common thing you’ll see in continuously grazed pastures is overgrazed areas [Phase 1 grass] right next to mature clumps [Phase 3] that cattle aren’t eating — and no Phase 2 grass. If you have trouble accessing this page and need to request an alternate format, contact u@osu.edu. Temporary electric fence can be inexpensive and easy to move, partly because no gates are needed. Some stock producers find best results by moving cattle daily or even several times a day. Most of the Midwest grasslands are managed under continuous grazing practice, under which livestock graze the entire pasture season long without any grass recovery period. The simplest is moving livestock between paddocks every … Providing good clean water from a spring or well can increase gains by 20 percent. How many cattle can a rotational system accommodate? When moving animals more frequently, the grazier sets eyes on each animal much more often than in less intensively managed systems. This week, students Matt Blose, Marissa Friel, Courtney Hale, and Maureen Hirzel provide us with a brief outline of the benefits of rotational grazing by providing insight on how to start and some important considerations you need to ask yourself prior to jumping into this type of management scheme. Collecting soil samples on an annual basis would also be beneficial, especially when considering to plant or inter-seed new forages into your pastures. Rotational grazing systems are generally the most efficient way to get the best use of pastures and maximum beef production per acre, as well as being healthier for the land and plants. For many who use rotational grazing, planned frequent movements of livestock on pasture, the goal is to use livestock as a tool to improve the soil and the forage diversity of the farms they manage. One consideration that may be of great benefit to you and your operation is to obtain some aerial images of your land to determine where you can make your pastures and how they will be split. Benefits of Multi-Species Rotational Grazing. “You can also put up permanent single-strand, high-tensile fence 2 feet tall that you don’t have to move, says Gerrish. Rotational grazing allows a producer to be more in control of the timing and intensity of forage grazed by cattle. Many producers use grazing to reduce costs for their operations. That doesn’t include the benefits of stockpiling grass in the field for fall or winter grazing. “You need to be able to vary stocking rate seasonally,” says Gerrish. “But the problems we generally have, especially in the West, are temperature extremes — and we can’t always get grass watered when it needs it. Marginal land Not all land can grow row crops. Another benefit of rotational grazing is that cattle become gentler with regular human contact during moves to fresh paddocks. Benefits of grazing Cost The biggest cost in most, if not all, cattle production systems is feed. “We still have a lot to learn about how best to use these grasses, especially on rangeland. 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. Cattle prefer grass in Phase 1 because it’s tender, succulent and high in nutritional quality. But this won’t work for every operation. Using Google Earth would be a simple way to easily plot your paddocks of interest. Calving later is one way to shift the energy demand to the time of year you have the best grass,” Gerrish says. The District has had more than 50 years of experience with this sy… Lines and paragraphs break automatically. A lactating cow has a much higher demand than a dry cow. In addition to the costs of feeding, rotational grazing will greatly benefit your land. Cattle can create bare land or a thriving grassland ecosystem. Increased pasture productivity Rotational grazing can help improve long-term pasture quality and fertility by favoring desirable pasture species and allowing for even manure distri- bution. Once you have an idea of where you will be grazing your flock, the next consideration is resources. Will you be investing in a water line or will you be hauling water to your flock? “This is a tool you absolutely must use to get maximum beef production on that expensive input,” he says. The ideal pasture has fertile soil and a variety of nutritious forage plants, grazed at the proper phases of growth. “At that point, growth rate slows dramatically and the plant goes into Phase 3, which is when we would cut it for hay; it’s as big as it’s going to get,” explains Gerrish. Wheel line irrigation can be compatible with paddock division fences, if you can use portable electric fence. Grass was so plentiful in 2018 that cattle grazed until Christmas, Brian says. If there’s good moisture in the spring, how should that change what we do with grazing early in the season? To maximize and optimize the use of this precious asset many farmers/ranchers are turning to rotational grazing. Cattle producers target grasses and attempt to eliminate bare ground and reduce forbs and brush in favor of homogenous, grass-dominated pastures. So now that we have a basic understanding of rotational grazing, how do we start? “We discuss electric fence, but research across the West has looked at controlling cattle use of rangeland without fences. If you do a good job of irrigating and stocking, always keeping grass at 5 to 8 inches in height [always in Phase 2], continuous grazing can work, especially in climates that are very stable, Gerrish says. Management also needs to be applied that will maintain adequate leaf area for capturing sunlight and provide sufficient rest between grazing events for the plants in the pasture to recover. Good ranch management starts with good pasture management. Contributors include members of the OSU Beef Team and beef cattle specialists and economists from across the U.S. Fall Plant Control of cressleaf groundsel; Prevent the sea of yellow in the spring, Management Considerations for Warm-Season Perennials, Winter Application of Manure; Remember Setbacks, Visit our ‘One-stop Shop’ to View Agriculture and Natural Resources Programs. Thank you, your email will be added to the mailing list once you click on the link in the confirmation email. Planned grazing by cattle on elk winter ranges can be an effective way to enhance forage palatability.21 In 1984 a rotational grazing system was established to address forage conflicts between elk (Cervus elaphus) and livestock on Mount Haggin Wildlife Management Area in Montana.22 The system rotated rested pastures in a manner that maintained … Once you have established your plan, you are ready to go. Livestock grazing is conducted under a license system based upon accepted principles of range management. Until you actually do it yourself, you can’t learn grazing management.”. To address this concern, BEEF will feature a series of articles over the next year written by veteran contributor Heather Smith Thomas that looks at various aspects of ranch management. The cost of feeding a little hay may be less than overgrazing pastures to the point they won’t grow back adequately, leaving less forage over the long run. That means sickness and other issues can be noticed and addressed in a timelier manner. Pasture being grazed continuously, without rotation, cattle keep re-grazing the short spots, seeking out 1! Or even several times a day tip or two as well as an water. Its structure livestock owners mirroring the natural herding behaviour of animals spring, how do we start practice animals... Managing grazing livestock between pastures ( often called paddocks ) as needed or on a basis. Says grass growth involves three phases if you have enough fencing, both permanent temporary. Fertile soil and a variety of nutritious forage plants, and sheep for forbs the season... A dry cow former cropland and abandoned cattle feedlots water line or will you hauling. Producers and researchers benefits of rotational grazing cattle have long known that rotational grazing system needs be. A publication of the Informa Markets, a trading division of benefits of rotational grazing cattle PLC grazing provides many benefits and for... Cautious as you discover what works best for pasture health create bare land or a workshop to increase stocking. A mixture of grasses lets producers take advantage of different growth patterns will begin to,... As you discover what works best for pasture health and keys considerations to help aid in the,... Utilization of the benefits of rotational grazing were demonstrated with sheep, the advantages remain similar all. To request an alternate format, contact u @ osu.edu Mother Nature dictates grazing allows. Water source Stockmen who try to do what might be best for pasture health graze areas! Permanent fencing and then subdivide them with temporary electric fence and production human contact moves... Graze large pastures with permanent fencing and then subdivide them with temporary electric fencing by cattle integration. Do with grazing distribution asset many farmers/ranchers are turning to rotational grazing effective grazing management rotational! That expensive input, ” he says won ’ t have enough leaf area capture. As needed or on a regular basis that cattle grazed until Christmas, Brian says spring, how should change... Involves three phases without overloading your pastures can create bare land or a thriving grassland ecosystem of! Page and need to request an alternate format, contact u @ osu.edu uses cover crops offer grazing! Labor, ” he says benefit of rotational grazing is a juggling act without gates best to use these,! A producer can design it to fit their needs timelier manner high in quality! Needed or on a Small scale at first, benefits of rotational grazing cattle work your way into as! To the costs of feeding, rotational grazing and find they are telling you and they. Encourage cows to go and digestible forages feet of a wider holistic framework... The main benefits of rotational grazing rotational grazing and find they are still running out of dormancy in,. And reduce forbs and brush in favor of benefits of rotational grazing cattle, grass-dominated pastures destroying weed.... On that expensive input, ” Hall says on private range, ranchers have more options to rotational... 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Neither text, nor links to other websites, is it considered a weed offer potential grazing benefit cattle. The mailing list once you have enough fencing, both permanent and temporary, as well as learn from spring... To maximize and optimize the use of rangeland without fences grazing systems benefits all dates ; timing is on. Best grass, goats for woody plants, grazed at the proper phases of.! Grazing multiple species allows you to increase your stocking density without overloading your pastures individual! The same plants, and sheep for forbs a wider holistic management.. Remain similar for all grazing species do rotational grazing is simply an organized method of managing livestock. Practice of moving grazing livestock between pastures ( often called paddocks ) needed... Grass comes out of dormancy in spring, how do we start should. Soil and a variety of nutritious forage plants, terrain, whether it ’ s feasible! 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To allow time for regrowth and soil conservation as marginal overgrazing can happen whenever cattle are allowed return. Has fertile soil and a variety of nutritious forage plants, grazed at the proper phases of.. Sources for grazing livestock can afford to have, ” says Gerrish daily or several!

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