Traditional ride-on mowers tend to be loud and require ongoing maintenance while also emitting carbon monoxide and dioxide into the atmosphere. On top of this, mowing is a chore that chews up valuable time and energy. That’s why countless Aussie farmers and regional homeowners rely on grazing to keep the grass neat, tidy and weed-free.
A smart grazer doesn’t just rely on one method. To keep your grass short and herd healthy, it’s best practice to incorporate a range of grazing methods into your overall grazing strategy. Read on for our round-up of the top grazing methods for Aussie farmers.
Set stocking refers to the method of grazing livestock in a paddock over an extended period. When this grazing method is employed:
- The paddock is rarely rested
- The stocking rate tends to be calculated to ensure that livestock can be grazed throughout the year.
- Supplementary feeding may be relied on to allow for seasonal imbalances in feed supply to demand.
When livestock is rotated through a series of paddocks, this is referred to as rotational grazing. Once the final paddock has been grazed, the first paddock to be grazed has rested. This facilitates sufficient pasture growth for the paddock grazing sequence to start all over again.
Compared to set stocking, rotational grazing requires higher paddock-by-paddock stocking rates. Rotational grazing aims to graze plants intensively at the most nutritious stage in their growth cycle. This is done while allowing rest time between grazing events to allow palatable species to continue to thrive. Rotational grazing:
- Facilitates higher stocking rates
- Encourages the persistence of palatable perennial pasture species
- It tends to require greater labour input and more infrastructure compared to set stocking.
Sometimes, adhering to either set stocking or rotational grazing simply isn’t the best way to allow producers to meet their objectives. Here’s where tactical grazing comes into the picture.
Tactical grazing brings together a broad range of grazing methods, including set stocking and rotational grazing, within a single year or a series of years. Incorporating a range of grazing methods into the grazing strategy helps farmers meet different animal and pasture objectives. Tactical grazing empowers farmers to strike a balance between feed supply and the demands of various livestock classes for growth rate, reproduction, and maintenance.
Tactical grazing is not too difficult for farmers to implement on their farms, especially for farms that already have either a rotational or deferred grazing system. These farms will already have the required fencing and water supplies to allow for any grazing method to be implemented. This also allows farmers to swap between different grazing methods throughout the year to meet their specified production targets.
Grazing to manage pasture species
Selecting the grazing approach best suited to the species mix on the property is an important consideration. Proper grazing management is crucial to ensuring the persistence of pasture species. During their reproduction and establishment, pastures are more vulnerable to grazing. Here, grazing can be used to target unwanted species to help prevent seed set. Alternatively, the farmer can rest desirable species to promote seed production.
To help farmers meet feed demand with their feed supply, supplementary feeding may be required for their grazing strategy. By implementing supplementary feeding, farmers can manage any nutritional issues (for example protein, energy or mineral requirements). Plus, incorporating supplementary feeding can compensate for seasonal declines in pasture production or quality. That said, it’s up to the farmer to weigh up the cost of supplementary feeding against the benefits. To help reduce supplementary feeding costs, farmers can:
- Change the management calendar (for example, the time of calving, kidding or lambing)
- Change the target market
- Change the species or enterprise mix
- Use animals with high genetic merit that grow faster and can be sold while the feed is available
- Sow pasture to remove a feed gap.
Common Animals For Grazing
The grazing methods the farmer chooses to utilise will influence what types of grazing animals they choose.
- Goats: goats offer farmers an inquisitive and loveable grazer. These animals are a popular choice for lawn maintenance both for farms and regional acreage areas. Goats’ only downside is their unpredictable browsing habits which may cause uneven grass lengths.
- Sheep: sheep are a fairly popular, reliable grazing choice for farms. Plus, they can be used for wool or milk. Being social animals, you will need at least two sheep for your pasture.
- Cows: cows are a good choice for farmers looking to have grazing animals covering large plots of land. They’re reliable creatures; they won’t try to run away, they’ll munch through plenty of grass, and they can produce milk. The setbacks that come with cows include managing their manure and their effects on the environment (methane emissions).
There are plenty of excellent grazing methods farmers can incorporate into their grazing strategy. The type of grazing method you select depends on your pasture, your goals and your grazing animals. To keep your grazing animals happy, Global Rotomoulding stocks a wide variety of agricultural products. We stock high-quality troughs and feeders, fertiliser tanks, poly water tanks and more. Be sure to contact our helpful team if you have any questions about our range of products.