Monday, April 26, 2010
Comeback Farms :: Chapters 22-23 Book Report
Now we are getting down to the nitty gritty ... the stuff that really has me excited as I read through this book for the second time. In chapter 22 Greg Judy introduces the idea of "Holistic Planned Grazing." And, this is where things get exciting! In think it is important that before we go any further here we define the word "Holistic" as Mr. Judy is using it (because I have a feeling it is one of those words with multiple definitions). He writes, "The term 'Holistic' as used here means that we are managing for the health of everything. Holistic management focuses on the importance of working in sync with nature to mimic natural processes." Later he writes, "Every action and decision you make has an effect on everything in your operation."
Mr. Judy particularly focuses the operation/work of Ian Mitchell-Innes who is a South African rancher he works 14,000 acres and uses Holistic Planned Grazing to manage his farms. He grazes 4,000 to 6,000 head of cattle per day on a 100 acre paddock! Did you catch that ... 4,000 to 6,000 head and 100 acre paddocks ... that blew me away and think this is the point where I would have said, "This can't work for me," if I hadn't continued reading on. Mr. Mitchell-Innes has seen his ranch improve endlessly through his management system that focuses on using the livestock to improve everything. Oh, and Mr. Judy also is quick to point out that all the improvements that Mr. Mitchell-Innes has made on his land has come without the use of lime and fertilizer. You just have to read the chapter to get the rest, but if you can't tell ... I think it's great!
In chapter 23 Mr. Judy answers the question of how this high density grazing thing can work with numbers fewer than say ... 4,000. He has been doing mob grazing (another phrase you will see a lot) with 50 to 250 head of cattle and believes that it will work on numbers smaller than that, and I tend to agree. When he was writing this book he was mobbing up his cattle herds in densities between 100,000 and 500,000 pounds liveweight per acre and he writes the results were "dramatic". The main issue and difference between this mob grazing and Management Intensive Grazing that he used to be doing was that in the MiG system they were focusing on keeping the grass young and grazed before it went to seed. With the mob grazing they allow the grass to get older and by doing so let the root system fully rejuvenate so that as the season progress the grass can handle the weather changes better.
I could go on and on! But, I would just suggest at this point you pick up the book and read for yourself. I for one can't wait to get my cattle mobbed up once the grass starts to take hold and get growing. The benefits seem endless ...