Regenerative agriculture has emerged as a popular approach to farming, focusing on enhancing soil health, biodiversity, and overall ecosystem services. In the dairy sector, rotational grazing systems play a crucial role in achieving these objectives. In this article, we delve into four popular rotational grazing methods: mob grazing, dynamic grazing, holistic planned grazing, and adaptive multi-paddock grazing. We will compare and contrast these systems and discuss their applicability to regenerative dairy farming.
Adaptive Multi-Paddock Grazing (AMP)
Adaptive multi-paddock grazing is similar to mob grazing but emphasizes adaptability. This method involves moving livestock frequently between smaller paddocks and allowing extended recovery periods for grazed areas. Grazing plans are adjusted based on factors such as forage growth rates, weather conditions, and animal performance. Richard Teague and Gabe Brown are thought leaders supporting this approach, which is applicable to farms with an adaptive mindset.
Mob grazing involves moving a high density of livestock to new paddocks frequently, allowing for a longer recovery period for the grazed areas. This approach stimulates plant growth, increases root mass, and promotes soil organic matter development. Mob grazing is particularly suitable for larger herds and regions with rapid forage growth or drought-prone conditions. Thought leaders advocating for mob grazing include Greg Judy and Colin Seis.
Dynamic grazing, also known as management-intensive grazing, is characterized by dividing the pasture into smaller paddocks and moving livestock between them more frequently. The frequency of moves can range from several times per day to once every few days, depending on factors such as forage availability and livestock requirements. This system is applicable for smaller herds, diverse pastures, and varying forage availability. André Voisin and Jim Gerrish are among the experts who promote dynamic grazing.
Holistic Planned Grazing
Allan Savory and Joel Salatin are proponents of holistic planned grazing, a decision-making framework that considers the ecological, social, and economic aspects of a farm. This approach involves planning grazing moves based on factors like plant growth rates, animal impact, and seasonal changes. The primary goal is to improve soil health, biodiversity, and farm profitability. Holistic planned grazing is suitable for farms with diverse goals and complex farm systems.
In conclusion, these rotational grazing systems offer various options for regenerative dairy farming. Each method has its unique strengths and applicability, depending on the farm's size, goals, and environmental conditions. By understanding and implementing the most suitable grazing system, regenerative dairy farms can enhance soil health, biodiversity, and overall sustainability.
Image taken from Front. Sustain. Food Syst., 29 September 2020, Sec. Agroecology and Ecosystem Services, Volume 4 - 2020 | https://doi.org/10.3389/fsufs.2020.534187