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Holistic Grazing

Photo by ArtHouse Studio: https://www.pexels.com/photo/sheep-on-green-grass-field-4639043/

Holistic grazing is a land management approach and agricultural practice that aims to mimic the natural movement and grazing patterns of large herds of animals in order to restore and improve the health of ecosystems and agricultural lands. It was popularized by Allan Savory, a Zimbabwean ecologist and farmer, who developed the concept in the 1980s.

The key principles of holistic grazing revolve around promoting biodiversity, soil health, and carbon sequestration. Here’s how it generally works:

  1. Rotational Grazing: Instead of allowing livestock to graze freely in one area continuously, holistic grazing involves dividing the land into smaller paddocks or pastures. Livestock are moved from one area to another in a planned rotational pattern. This rotational grazing gives plants time to recover, stimulates root growth, and prevents overgrazing.
  2. Mob Grazing: During each grazing period, livestock are concentrated in a specific paddock in high densities for a short period. This replicates the behavior of wild herds that move in a group, graze intensely, and then move on.
  3. Rest Periods: After the livestock have grazed a paddock, it is allowed a significant period of rest. This gives the plants a chance to recover fully, grow back, and rebuild their root systems, leading to healthier and more resilient vegetation.
  4. Multi-Species Grazing: Different types of animals, such as cattle, sheep, and poultry, are often grazed together in a holistic grazing system. The varied grazing behaviors of these animals help improve pasture utilization and create a more diverse and balanced ecosystem.
  5. Stress and Disturbance: The intensive grazing and trampling by animals stimulate the soil and plant growth, encouraging biodiversity and nutrient cycling. However, it’s essential to ensure that the livestock’s stay is brief enough not to damage the plants or soil structure irreversibly.

The overall goal of holistic grazing is to create a harmonious balance between livestock, vegetation, and the soil. By mimicking nature’s processes, this approach is thought to have several benefits, including increased soil fertility, enhanced water infiltration and retention, improved carbon sequestration, reduced erosion, and more productive and resilient agricultural systems. Moreover, proponents of holistic grazing claim it can be a tool in combating desertification and mitigating climate change through increased carbon sequestration in healthy soils.

View Allan Savory’s work online at https://savory.global/

Follow Saxon on his Youtube channel to understand this in more depth: https://www.youtube.com/@saxonvanbentley

Here’s a nice video showing how a mobile electric fence enclosure is moved using a quadbike/ATV:

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