MORRISVILLE, N.Y. — Have you ever seen a large grassy field divided into multiple smaller paddocks? Have you ever heard the term rotational grazing and wondered what exactly it means? Rotational grazing is a system where a large pasture is divided into smaller pastures or paddocks allowing livestock to be moved from one area to the other easily. Using this method cattle are concentrated on a smaller area of the pasture for a few days then moved to another section of pasture. This provides adequate recovery time for each pasture to regenerate. Rotational grazing also allows for better manure distribution in each pasture, which acts as a source of nutrients to the soil. Basically, rotational grazing allows cows to consume the nutrients they need while maintaining the health of the grass and soil over the long term, all while keeping carbon in the ground instead of releasing it into the atmosphere.
So, what does all of this mean to farmers? For centuries farmers have had to adapt and add tools to their toolbox to better equip themselves for the changing climate and weather patterns. Rotational grazing is one of many tools that farmers use to ensure continued profit. Each day an animal grazes and distributes their own manure is one less day the farmer must do the work the livestock could potentially do themselves.
Another tool many farmers use is a grazing calendar. Grazing calendars are distributed locally through the Madison County Soil and Water Conservation District. In addition to helping to track the progress of their herd and measure the days of rest for each pasture, grazing calendars help farmers plan for their farm’s future. Future days of grazing and stocking rates (number of cows per acre) for years to come are a few of the things a grazing plan can help plan for, all of which provide the farmer with more data to make informed decisions.
“The land was made for the cattle, and the cattle were made for the land” is a quote I recently heard. Livestock have the potential, when managed properly, to preserve open farmland in a rapidly growing state while providing locally and sustainably raised food for consumers. Interested in learning more about rotational grazing or how your land could be utilized for rotational grazing? Please contact us at our office: Cornell Cooperative Extension of Madison County 100 Eaton Street, Morrisville, NY 13408 | 315.684.3001 | firstname.lastname@example.org or contact Ag Subject Educator Chrissy Claudio at CSC248@CORNELL.EDU and (315)684-3001 ext. 108.
–Chrissy Claudio, Cornell Cooperative Extension, Madison County