There are many techniques for managing pasture, as many techniques as there are cattlemen and women! A growing number of graziers are using rotational grazing to manage soil health and fertility and pasture productivity. Two well-known and widely adopted systems are management intensive grazing (MiG or MiRG, where the "R" stands for rotational) and mob grazing. So, what's the difference?
In a MiG/MiRG system, cattle eating grass while it is growing (in a vegetative stage). The thought behind this being that eating plants with high nutrient levels (before the plants mature) supports the optimum health and performance of the cattle. In this system, graziers will stock animals densely on the land, but at a rate that will allow for the animals to be somewhat selective in what they graze.
In a mob system, graziers stock cattle in high density on the land to reduce forage selectivity and incorporate organic matter into the soil. Cattle eat mature grass before it goes to seed; cattle eat the top of the plant during its growing stage and trample the rest of the plant. The thinking behind this is that grazing the grass later in its life cycle puts less stress on the grass; a stressed grass will reproduce more quickly and go to seed, but as soon as it is mature enough to go to seed, it loses the high nutrient quality of the vegetative stage. Additionally, the tall grasses prevent soil moisture loss and erosion and helps moderate the temperature of the soil. The trampled grass covers and feeds the soil. After everything has been trampled, the cattle move on to another paddock and won't return to the same paddock for three weeks to up to three months months, allowing the grass a full recovery period.
Both MiRG and mob grazing improve nutrient distribution, pasture health, and animal productivity. Certainly, moving in the direction of transitioning your operation to any rotational grazing system will help improve soil health, pasture health, and animal health. There is a general consensus among grazing experts that mob grazing is the more effective option. The soil is healthier, the plants are healthier, and the animals are healthier and more productive.
Photo credit: Beef Magazine