Category: Ecology & Grazing

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To Move or Not To Move

How do you know when it is time to move animals from one pasture to another? Most people figure that if they are out of feed in one pasture, it is time to move. The herd is probably standing at the gate voicing their agreement that it is time to “Mooove.” There’s nothing they’d like […]

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Pounds per Head or Pounds per Acre

For decades we’ve been encouraged to evaluate the efficiency of production by focusing on weight weaned per cow. Now some are arguing that the critical measure should really be pounds weaned per acre. But neither measure is very useful. Each is just a different side of the same failed paradigm: increasing production will increase profit. […]

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Going Around In Circles

Rotational grazing doesn’t work. It doesn’t work for at least two reasons. One reason it doesn’t work is that, rather than rotationally graze, most people rotationally overgraze. They get overstocking and overgrazing confused. Overstocking happens when you have more animals than you have grass to support them. Overgrazing happens when you keep animals in a pasture […]

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Half and Half

Take half – leave half.  It is probably the most common advice you’ll hear regarding grazing utilization. In my opinion it is bad advice. It was probably the brainchild of someone looking for a one-size-fits-all, easy-to-remember recipe. It may be easy to remember, but this recipe is likely to produce a crummy meal. What does […]

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Cowboys and Grassmen

I once heard Bud Williams say, “Ranchers love their cows and hate their grass.”  Bud thought they had it backwards. They should love their grass and hate their cattle. I know that Bud didn’t really hate cattle or think that anyone else ought to hate them, but his point was that for a livestock business […]

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Stocking Rate Rant

A Ranching For Profit School alumni sent me a paper published by the Society for Range Management on calculating the optimum stocking rate. The authors crunched 14 variables through 1o equations to reach the conclusion that the optimum stocking rate is somewhere between a low rate that maximizes per/head performance and a higher rate that […]

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You Might Be Cell Grazing If…

A lot of ranchers use some kind of grazing rotation. Very few do it in a way that has even a 50/50 chance of improving the health of the land, the performance of their cattle and the profitability of their businesses. There are so many names attached to various rotations, it is hard to know […]

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Boots On The Ground

You can’t monitor the health of land from a windshield.  You’ve got to have boots on the ground. Even then, we tend to look across the land rather than into it.  Looking across gives a distorted picture of what’s really going on. We need to look into the land.   Study the photo below.  It […]

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Rotational Overgrazing

Nearly 15 years ago I surveyed over 300 commercial cattle producers asking them questions about their grazing practices and their attitudes about change.  One hundred twenty of them (40%) identified “rotational grazing” as their primary method of managing cattle on pasture. Over 80% of the rotational grazers reported having fewer than 8 paddocks per herd.  […]

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Two For The Price Of One

Would you like a free ranch? This summer I had the pleasure of visiting several Ranching For Profit School alumni ranches from Texas to Montana and points in between.  Most are applying cell grazing and are producing impressive results. Cell grazing involves giving paddocks adequate rest, keeping graze periods short, increasing stock density and adjusting […]

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