Gus's Musings

March 10, 2014

Grazing ain’t Grazing!

I don’t know how many times I hear people say that “My land shouldn’t be grazed” or “grazing wrecks the land” or even “that land really needs a good graze”.  Now all of these statements are correct, and all are absolutely wrong, because grazing isn’t that simple and depends entirely on who is driving the tool!

So let me explain to you how I see grazing, there are two main types, with multiple variations:

  • Set stocking: This is when if you say have a 500ha paddock and the conservative carrying capacity of that land is about 1 sheep/ha, then you would put 500 sheep in there for the year, every year.  This usually results in very good animal productivity, without always having the flexibility to respect the land.
  • Time controlled/rotational grazing: This is when you run larger mobs of stock resting paddocks so that stock are only on a portion of the property at any one time.  This can be a very sharp tool that requires good management, normally there is lower individual animal performance, offset by a higher stocking rate.


I would be pretty sure that most properties grazing systems would fit somewhere into these rough two categories.   The outcomes of either system or any hybrid in between are extremely dependant on who is “driving” the tool.  So why then do people broadly place grazing under 1 banner?  I suggest this is done mainly through lack of knowledge and respect for the people that are out there grazing, the farmers.  Such a shame when I see so called peer reviewed scientific paper that talks about the damage livestock cause to the land, or the weeds they bring up and so on, when all those involved in putting together the paper have done is thrown away all of their I.Q. by disrespecting others.

I’m yet to hear of a grazing management trial that has been done using experts, i.e. farmers managing the systems, there is no doubt that the outcomes of all grazing management trials have been compromised due to lack of livestock handling and landscape interpretation skills.  Enough of worrying what others think of grazing, time to start talking about using grazing to help you.

Site 1 Landscape Feb 2008

Site 1 Landscape Feb 2008

So when looking to put together a grazing management system in harmony with the land, you need to first understand what you have and be prepared to take responsibility for the current condition of you land/farm.  Then you set yourself some goals, I prefer to set a pathway with no end so I can keep reaching for the stars.  Once you have a clear direction you make up an inventory of all the resources at your disposal, before finding the best way to utilise them in order to start moving in the right direction.  An example of the resources would be: cash, people, services, machinery, other?

This way you can put together a grazing system that not only meets your needs, it also respects your land, the people, the livestock and the business.  So if you think that grazing won’t work on your place, maybe you should see some of the wonderfully skilled operators out there that could graze any land to improve it, while making stock and people happy & healthy and even money in the bank!

Remember grazing can be the sharpest tool in your tool box that you can’t go without or it can be a blunt bit of wood that lies around, no value to anyone, burn it, get rid of it, you and you alone will be responsible for either outcome!!

Site 1 Landscape Feb 2011

Site 1 Landscape Feb 2011


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