A functioning ecosystem isn’t complete without animals to help close the nutrient loop. One key way farmers are building soil organic matter, cycling nutrients, and adding economic value to their farmland is by integrating ruminant livestock — beef cattle, dairy cattle, sheep, and goats — into a well-managed grazing system. Simply turning animals out onto open pastures and allowing them to roam creates its own problems. Farmers raising livestock as a soil- and profit-building tool are using managed rotational grazing of livestock. A managed rotational grazing system generally includes:
- Being goal-oriented and flexible.
- Using higher stock densities and moving livestock more frequently to graze and distribute fertility across the landscape evenly.
- Relying on temporary fencing technology for frequent movement.
- Increasing rest periods to allow for plant root system recovery.
Managed rotationally grazing systems can go beyond sustainability — they can help to regenerate soil by sequestering carbon, supercharging biological activity, and building soil structure. Many farmers are using managed rotational grazing to increase productivity of perennial pastures and allow for multiple uses of annual cropland through grazing of cover crops and crop residue. Please check out the resources on this page to learn more about managed rotational grazing and the ways farmers are implementing this tool.
Join a SE MN Grazing Group
Are you a grazier who would benefit from getting together with other like-minded livestock farmers? LSP is launching two farmer-driven, grazing groups that will connect southeastern Minnesota pasture-based livestock producers with one another and open doors to farmer-to-farmer learning. The North Group will be centered roughly around Goodhue, Wabasha, and Olmsted counties, and the South Group around Winona, Houston, and Fillmore counties. To sign-up, click here.
Grazing Group Blog: The Power of Pasture Walks by Jean Erpelding (1/24/2020)
Got Grazing Questions?
LSP has launched a toll-free helpline for farmers seeking support related to grazing livestock. You can call 1-888-664-7293 (1-888-MNGRAZE) or submit your questions in writing here.
2019 Field Days and Workshops
Winter Forage Tour
During the winter of 2020, Prairie Creek Seed will be holding meetings on perennial grasses, as well as alfalfa, summer annuals, and cover crops as forages. Meetings will be held in Minnesota, Wisconsin, Iowa, and Illinois. Details are here.
The Economics of Grazing Fact Sheet
LSP has developed a financial analysis of utilizing rotational grazing to manage a cow-calf herd. The fact sheet compares the economic returns of rotational grazing to continuous grazing, as well as corn and soybean production. The fact sheet includes a list of practical grazing publications. Check it out here.
Grazing For Landowners: Livestock as a tool for Land Management. LSP, in partnership with Practical Farmers of Iowa, developed this fact sheet to outline the benefits for landowners of grazing cropland, some first steps in establishing grazing on your rental acres, and some basics to include in a grazing lease.
White Paper: Grazing, Continuous Living Cover, Climate Change & Water
In early 2020, LSP published a white paper showing that farming systems that integrate managed rotational grazing and continuous living cover can help us tackle the twin problems of climate change and water pollution. Check it out on our Carbon Farming web page here.
Grazing Stories & Blogs
- Midwest Family La Crosse Radio Interview: Meyer Family Embraces Regenerative Agriculture with Diversified Farming (3/10/20)
- Blog: Midwestern Farms Can Counter Climate Change (3/9/20)
- LSP Podcast: How farmers Dawn & Grant Breitkreutz are building soil carbon & bolstering profitability. (2/20/20)
- Agri-View Article: Raise it, Sell it, Build for the Future (1/24/20)
- LSP Blog: The Power of Pasture Walks, by Jean Erpelding(1/24/2020)
- LSP Podcast: A U of M experiment station's research into grazing, cover crops, and soil health. (12/3/19)
- Agri-View Article: Producer proposes fair-wage milk (12/2/19)
- Agri-View Article: It's all about profit, next generation (11/19/19)
- Agri-View Article: Lessons learned fuel new start (11/14/19)
- Winona Post Article: Ridgeway farmers grow corn and covers — simultaneously (10/2/19)
- Blog: Robbing the Farm or Enriching the Farm: Which is the Better Way? (8/9/19)
- Agri News Article: Challenges in karst country farming (8/1/19)
- Plainview News Article: 'Best Thing in the World' (article on Bedtke grazing field day) (7/25/19)
- Winona Post Article: The rewards of rotational grazing (7/24/19)
- Blog: Soil Health: Short-Term Gains, Long-Term Dividends (7/17/19)
- Brownfield Radio Story: Weather Pressures Feed Supplies on Organic Dairy (7/2/19)
- Blog: A Farmer's View of Climate Change (6/27/19)
- Agri-View Article: Cattle graze enhanced meadows (6/6/19)
- Blog: Building a Dairy Farm's Resilience Through Soil Health (11/27/18)
- Blog: Jon Luhman: A Farm Makes Changes to Benefit Soil, Profit & Quality of Life (3/3/17)