Wednesday, May 27, 2009

A Note From Jim Gerrish...

Way back in November of 2007 I wrote a couple of posts on Ultra High Density Grazing (post one and post two) and mentioned the work of Greg Judy and Jim Gerrish. I have to admit that I was and still am equally amazed and interested in the idea of Ultra High Density Grazing and all of the things that go along with it. But, the other thing that I am willing to admit is that I don't have a very good understanding of the methods, terminology, and everything else. Thankfully there is a thing such as Google and also wonderful people such as Mr. Gerrish who are willing to take some time to set me straight!

Yesterday I received an e-mail from Mr. Gerrish that helped me understand a few things. Here is a sample of what he wrote:
"The 2000 to 8000 lb per acre I was referring to is the standing forage yield. Basically 1 to 4 tons per acre of standing stockpiled forage."

"We generally graze winter stockpiled forage at a stock density of 120-140,000 lb-liveweight/acre with daily moves. On really heavy stockpile, we’ll occasionally break 200,000 lb liveweight/acre. Greg [Judy] usually moves three or four times per day. His reference to 500,000 lb liveweight/acre stock density is an instantaneous measure. If he moves 3x daily, the 24-hr stock density (the only way to accurately relate animal needs to forage supply) is 166,667 lb/acre. If he moves four times daily, the 24-hr stock density is 125,000 lb/acre. We are basically grazing at the same carrying capacity and 24-hr stock density. He does it with multiple moves each day. I do it with a single move (basic laziness on my part!)."

"We usually graze 300-500 cows in the winter and our daily chore time is about 25 minutes. That chore consists of taking down one 1000 ft section of polybraid and leapfrogging it ahead for the next day’s move."
That helped me understand what he is doing a lot, and it has given me a lot of encouragement in what we are hoping to do. Hopefully this is something we can work towords. In fact is something that I started doing with our 5 heifers this morning because I wanted to clip the grass really short in the area where we are going to be building a shed. The mower isn't going yet, so I might as well use cow power and not waste the grass!

Any good book recommendations on this subject that you have read? I would love to hear them...


GreenRanchingMom said...

Good Job, Use the cows!

Why spend gas & time to do the job that God intended Cattle to do.

We rotationally graze, but not that intensively. We usually move our heifers once or twice a week. We are trying some Rye grass this summer, and expect to rotate 15 pairs each day, and only use 10 acres to summer this entire group. We'll see how it goes.

Keep up the great blogging.

Rich said...

What about Gerrish's book on the subject of Management Intensive Grazing?

I am not sure if this book deals with the specifics of higher density grazing, but it should answer a number of questions on the subject.

I also have a number of questions on the subject.

Since Gerrish adopted Ultra High Density Grazing after initially grazing with a MiG system (with lower densities, I assume), would it be beneficial for others to also 'ease' into higher density grazing in the same way?

I have also wondered if UHDG is more suited to a stocker cattle operation rather than a cow-calf operation?

JimGIdaho said...

I guess I'm out in the open now, so I'll tell you my thoughts on MiG & UHDG. To me UHDG is just a subset of MiG. MiG stands for 'Management-intensive Grazing'. It has been butchered and twisted by other 'well-meaning' people to describe a lot of different things. The one that annoys me the most is 'Managed Intensive Grazing'. What does that mean? Absolutely nothing!

'Management-intensive' is the modifier of 'grazing'. That means it is management, not grazing, that is being intensified. (I know some of you have probably read this somewhere else already).

UHDG is very management-intensive and it is grazing, so it is, by definition, MiG. I have always emphasized the need for flexibility in MiG. On the other hand, some people have taken MiG to mean some rigid sequence of events and that is totally wrong. I think a lot of people who claimed to be doing MiG were really doing IG without the M.

On our own farm back in Missouri, we were grazing at stock densities greater than 100,000 and occasionally 200,000 by the late 1980's. Usually that was in once a day moves, but occasionally 2 or 3 moves per day if specific objectives at the time called for it. We didn't get that intensive at the U of Moo research station because other people involved there were too conservative in their thinking.

Bottom line is I am basically too lazy to move cattle more than once a day on an ongoing basis, but I do it when I know it will help me accomplish a specific goal. Day in and day out, I firmly believe we get 95%+ of the benefits associated with UHSD with once a day moves.

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