techniques for intensive free range foraging

HEIGHT-BASED PASTURES MANAGEMENT

Species/Cultivar Rest period (days) Animals
"In"
Animals
"Out"
Mombasa 28 a 35 32 - 40 8 -14
Tanzania 28 a 35 32 - 35 12 -14
Marandu 28 a 35 23 - 32 8 -14
MG-5 24 a 35 20 - 32 8 -14
Decumbens 24 a 30 20 - 27 6 - 8
Humidicola 21 a 28 12 - 16 4 - 5
Grazing period must happen when light absorption by the plants is at its maximum for photosyntesis process. In tussock species it is frequent to observe self shading within the plant leaves (young leaves blocking sunlight to the ones below)

The animals should be taken out of the paddock when all photosyntetic active leaves were grazed;therefore,the leaf/stem ratio will be low.
Over grazing damages expanding leaves and removes buds and meristems harming the future regrowth.

Solving the management problem

A very simple way to avoid mismanagement is to allow the regrowth of the grasses right after grazing.

Allowing the correct rest period and avoiding plant aging can be done by using the rotational management of the paddocks.

Grass Tiller Structure

a - Adults and active leaves
b - Young leaves
c - Appearing leaves
d - Axillary buds
e - Apical meristem
h - 1,2 and 3 - cutting heights

Managing pastures means maintaining as many apical meristems as possible and reaching a higher leaf area index (LAI)

Avoid Mismangement

UNDER GRAZED PASTURE

This paddock was mismanged. The remaining plants become mature and fibrous with low palatability.

OVER GRAZED PASTURE

The mistake in this paddock was the high number of animals per area. Under these conditions the pasture is degraded.

Pivot grazing method