Good Grazing Shouldn’t be Controversial

by Dallas Mount

spring grazing

“You don’t believe in that silly rotational grazing mumbo jumbo do you?”

“Oh…. You’re one of ‘those people’!”

“I’d quit ranching if it meant moving my cows around in circles all the time.”

I’m guessing many of you have heard some version of the statements above and maybe even said it or thought it yourself. It constantly surprises me the perception people have about well managed grazing and the people that practice it.  

What we teach at Ranching for Profit isn’t “rotational grazing”. We don’t write prescriptions for how long rest periods and graze periods should be. We don’t suggest you graze-half and leave-half. What we do give you is a set of time proven, rancher tested, well vetted principles that apply in any environment anywhere on the planet. Application of these principles will create healthy land with thriving forage production. Forming the foundation upon which a profitable livestock business can be built.

How you choose to apply practices to these principles is the art form of grazing management. When done well, it shouldn’t be complicated, it should be easy and fun to implement.

“The man who grasps principles can successfully handle his own methods. The man who tries methods, ignoring principles, is sure to have trouble.”

Harrington Emerson


My grazing season started last week as I received the custom grazing cattle that will be on my place this season. It is exciting to see the changes that the land shows you, when you pay attention. Bare ground disappearing, new plants showing up increasing diversity, improvements in plant vigor and signs of soil health are all encouraging. I made some grazing mistakes last year and the land showed me that as well.  Some pastures that we didn’t provide adequate rest to, are slow to emerge this year and will require longer rest periods to recover from my management mistakes.

It surprises me that some want to treat the application of the grazing principles as if it is voodoo or snake oil. How can you argue that allowing plants to recover after being grazed is a bad thing? Or that matching stocking rate to carrying capacity and being flexible during the season and throughout the year doesn’t make sense?

I for one am not willing to wait for the last hold out to get on board before moving forward. There is too much at stake. Healthy land, profitable businesses and happy families just to name a few.

I wish you timely precipitation, green grass and good principle-based grazing this year!

6 Responses to “Good Grazing Shouldn’t be Controversial”

May 27, 2020 at 9:11 am, Ross Macdonald said:

Excellent comments!


May 27, 2020 at 10:37 am, Dave Pratt said:

Right on! How can anyone who is serious about making profit in the livestock business NOT take a serious look at cell grazing. Only about 5% do. It’s no coincidence that the most profitable producers in our industry are in that 5%.


May 27, 2020 at 11:58 am, Jake Tollman said:

If I tried to avoid any chance of making a mistake, I’d never do anything, which is the biggest mistake ever. In the last 5 years, I’ve made a bunch of mistakes, and still have some great successes. The success isn’t in the ending, it’s in the journey.


May 28, 2020 at 12:36 pm, Rob Rutherford said:

When Fred Provenza would guest lecture in my classes, he would often structure his comments in this order: Principles, Processes, Practices. Wise decisions will make those considerations in that order. I entirely agree that too many jump right to the Practices without spending adequate time understanding the Principles and the (ecosystem)Processes.


May 28, 2020 at 2:38 pm, Anthea NT Australia said:

Thanks Dallas. I am reassured when even you make mistakes because I make lots. However as you say the increase in biodiversity and less bare ground is encouraging…not sure if it is my efforts or a a bit of rain that covered my mistakes.


October 30, 2020 at 12:41 pm, Adam Courtney said:

Great article.
I dont understand why there is opposition to managed intensive grazing. To have the power to manage a better outcome through drought, increase carrying capacity, and improve the land is something we can all benefit from. Having control over our future is somewhat frightening, it is easier to blame weather, markets, or policies. Unfortunately that is where many choose to stay. I think more conventional grazers need to ask themselves,” if there was a better way when my grandfather (or great grandfather)was alive, would he have seized it? Or just just hoped for the best?”


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *