Grazing & Soil Health

A functioning ecosystem isn’t complete without animals to help close the nutrient loop. One key way farmers are building soil organic matter, Imagecycling 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.

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.

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.

2019 Field Days and Workshops

Ongoing — LSP Grazing Group Pasture Walks & Other Field Days & Workshops
• December 12 — Direct Marketing Grass-Based Meat: Key Considerations, Challenges, and Lessons Learned

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 Blogs & Stories

Blog: Robbing the Farm or Enriching the Farm: Which is the Better Way? (8/9/19)
Blog: Soil Health: Short-Term Gains, Long-Term Dividends (7/17/19)
Blog: A Farmer's View of Climate Change (6/27/19)
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)