Mob grazing is a “new” grazing technique that has been slowly sweeping Wisconsin and the upper Midwest for the last decade. This technique attempts to simulate historical grazing patterns conducted by native herbivores using domesticated livestock.
While mob grazing is similar to rotational grazing, producers who implement this practice typically graze taller and more mature forage with more animals per unit area, using faster paddock moves, and allowing a longer rest period after grazing events. Graziers use mob grazing for a variety of reasons including weed control, even distribution of manure, pasture resilience, decreased animal selectivity and even to improve soil health. While there may be benefits, there are also concerns about potential negative impacts.
While practitioners of mob grazing are sold on the technique, others are not. To take a closer look at what mob grazing really is and how it’s being used on the landscape, a series of videos has been created by the University of Wisconsin Extension with support from Hay & Forage Grower magazine, the Center for Integrated Agricultural Systems (CIAS), the Ceres Trust, and Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education (SARE). This series, titled “In Their Own Words” uses farmer interviews to define mob grazing, discuss benefits and risks, and give some suggestions on how to implement this practice. Producers featured in the video have utilized mob grazing in some form as part of their pasture- and herd-management strategy, and are excited to share their successes as well as their failures.
“As this can be a controversial and often misunderstood practice, we wanted to let the producers who have used mob grazing speak for themselves” says Anders Gurda, Associate Researcher, and producer of the videos. “Surveys have shown, again and again, that farmers learn best from each other, and one of our goals as researchers is to facilitate these educational conversations.” Gurda travelled to farms in Iowa, Minnesota, and Wisconsin to speak with dairy, beef, and diversified livestock producers, all of whom have adopted, and adapted, mob grazing to suit their own operations. Their stories will help viewers understand why, how, and when to use mob grazing.
These four videos can be found by using the links below: