Three South Dakota ranchers offer mob grazing tips, how-to advice and anecdotes about managed intenstive rotational grazing in three videos shot by South Dakota State University staff.
Beef producers Pat Guptill, Quinn; Charlie Totten, Chamberlain; and Richard Smith, Hayti, tell how mob grazing their beef herds has improved forage production, stretched their grass supply, increased stocking rates, upped soil health, made cows happier and healthier and put some extra income in their pockets.
Guptill says before mob grazing he was never content with the way his grass looked.
"We were never gaining anything," he says.
Mob grazing boosts forage, grass species
Since they started moving the cattle several times a day, they've seen forage production rise, more grass species move in and soil health improve.
He tries to leave 800-1,000 pounds of forage behind the cows. He figures that is enough to keep the soil microbes.
"We used to have 60% bare ground on this pasture," says Guptill of the one of the pastures he has been mob grazing. "Now is it down to less than 10%."
Totten says he's been able to double stocking rates when he mob grazes the cattle herd. He limits mob grazing to during the "heart of the growing season." After removing cattle completely, he'll wean calves on the pasture in the fall. "There will be good regrowth," he says.
More mob grazing tips and videos on page 2>>
Key mob grazing tips
Smith gives 80 pairs three-quarters of an acre of new grass twice a day. Two moves a day – once in the morning at 7 a.m. and another at 8 p.m. -- works better than once a day. The cows are a lot calmer, he says. They don't climb over each other to get to new grass when he takes the fence down.
He notices that when they get on new grass they first eat the alfalfa and sweet clover clumps, then take off the seed heads and top third of the leaves and then remove the middle third. They are not very interested in the bottom third of the grass, apparently because it is lower quality and has been trampled on.
See the mob grazing tips videos of Guptill, Totten and Smith for lots of scenes of cows and different mob grazing situations. There is information about how each of the cattlemen provide the cows with water. The mob grazing tips videos also are available on SDSU iGrow's Livestock Playlist, along with other livestock management and beef production tips.
If you're interested in a point-counterpoint look at mob grazing and managed intenstive rotational grazing, see: Reader Says Grazing Management Doesn't Pay, Quality Does
Planning for all possibilities is the best way to prepare for a successful calving season. But do it right! Download our free report, Best Practices for a Successful Calving Season, to ensure you have everything in place to limit stress on you and your herd.