Considerations about Mob Grazing Pastures in the Southeast
A grazing method called “mob grazing” or “ultra-high stock density grazing” a subject that has garnered a lot of press in the forage industry lately is News stories about this strategy can be found in just about every industry magazine. Almost all of the articles in the popular press about ultra-high stock density (UHSD) grazing give it a positive spin. As a scientist, I am increasingly alarmed by some of the claims being made and how the proponents of UHSD grazing have garnered so much publicity.
The reason for my concern is three-fold. First, there has been very little credible research to support many of the claims. Second, the evidence of effect that has so far been cited is primarily based on visual assessments at a point in time, not long-term evaluations. Third, there are many "kernels of truth" in the UHSD rhetoric that seem true or, even, intuitive on the surface but may only be "half-truths" and/or make the system less sustainable in the long-term. Until adequate research compares these systems, one would do well to address this subject with a fair amount of skepticism.
In a series of articles in the Georgia Cattleman magazine (December 2010 - February 2011), I attempted to list some of the considerations wherein I am skeptical of the UHSD proponents' claims. As a scientist, I approach any idea or change with skepticism. My intent is not to be dismissive of the idea or practice change. Nonetheless, I strongly feel that it is in our producers' best interest for scientist's like myself to give voice to such skepticism and provide a starting point for questions that need to asked about any new idea or practice change.
The articles were divided into a series because of space limitations. Below is a link to each of the three parts:
Dr. Dennis Hancock
Forage Extension Specialist
Crop & Soil Sciences Dept.