Sunday, September 19, 2010
How hard to mob graze a paddock
One thing that I'm still not sure about is how hard to mob graze each paddock. I read a piece in the SGF that mentioned mob grazing 25% and tromping 75%. The old saying is "take half leave half". I've seen Greg Judy quoted as saying he grazed 40% and tromped 60%...I've also seen the reverse. Part of the reason (there are many) that we are mob grazing is to get better utilization out of the grass that we do grow. I don't think 25-40% is very good utilization. I think it is important to find a happy medium between utilization and trompage. I'm not sure what that number is, but we are trying to figure it out. One thing that ties our hands a bit on this ranch is the tree sprouts and brush. We can't get the sprouts and brush eaten unless we are hitting the paddocks pretty hard. Eating those sprouts is just critical for us because we are trying to control their growth as well as utilize them as forage. When we eat less than 50% of the standing forage, the cattle do very little damage to the sprouts and brush. I think we need to be up around 70-80% utilization to get proper brush control. I can tell you that sometimes I just cringe when I look at a paddock that we have grazed too hard...it just looks like a wasteland. The first few times this happened, I really beat myself up thinking I had made a huge mistake and worrying that the grass would never come back. In every instance, within a few months the paddock is green and vibrant and I can never tell which paddock was grazed significantly harder than another. Obviously the key is grazing for only a day (or less) and giving the paddock ample time to recover...in our case, that's a little more than 4 months. This sounds a little weird, but I would rather overgraze a paddock than undergraze it. If we didn't have the brush, I would likely feel differently about that, but if you are trying to utilize weeds and brush, you almost have to graze the paddocks with more intensity than if you aren't.