Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Video Series Takes Chapter-and-Verse Look at Intensive Grazing for Small Operations

There’s nothing quite like taking the “nickel tour” to gain an understanding of how farmers and ranchers make their operations work. But a video tour is a good option too.

Dave Scott, a livestock specialist with the National Center for Appropriate Technology (NCAT), is the co-owner of Montana Highland Lamb, a 30-acre irrigated lamb operation near Whitehall, Montana. Dave and his wife, Jenny, practice intensive grazing at Montana Highland Lamb, where they run 200 to 220 ewes and raise about 400 lambs, 330 on pasture.

In “Intensive Grazing: One Farm’s Set Up,” a new series of videos recently released on NCAT’s ATTRA website, Dave walks you through that set up. But it’s more than a recorded farm tour.

Each video is an instructional “chapter” covering a particular component of the intensive grazing system, from determining paddock size and monitoring the condition of the grass to developing a relatively simple stock-water tank layout and monitoring animal health.

Dave and Jenny started developing their intensive grazing system in 1982, running a small dairy herd on the same land.

“Intensive grazing allowed us to survive as a farm,” Dave said. “We can raise twice as many animals as we could with a conventional pasture-rotation system.” 

Dave also recently authored two ATTRA publications on intensive grazing.

·         Irrigated Pastures: Setting Up an Intensive Grazing System That Works is designed as a producer tip sheet that identifies the variables involved in creating a successful intensive grazing program, which include paddock grazing and recovery period considerations, effectively measuring yields, and establishing initial stocking rates.

·         Why Intensive Grazing On Irrigated Pastures? lists the advantages of intensive grazing programs over continuous grazing or haying as well as considerations and questions a producer should use to determine whether intensive grazing is right for them.

In addition to Dave’s recent publications, ATTRA recently released an updated version of its popular 2006 publication Pastures: Sustainable Management, an in-depth look at numerous aspects of sustainable pasture integration, grazing rotation strategies, and management options.

The publications can be downloaded free of charge and are available as paper publications for a small handling fee on the ATTRA website at www.attra.ncat.org. “Intensive Grazing: One Farm’s Set-Up can be found on the ATTRA website at https://attra.ncat.org/video/

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