Strip grazing is a grazing management system that involves giving livestock a fresh allocation of pasture each day. It is usually organized within a paddock grazing system and the animals are controlled by the use of an electric fence.

Paddocks are only grazed 2 to 3 times per year. Long rest periods allow forages to become mature before grazing rather than being grazed in a vegetative state, this allows for root systems to develop and energy stores to be built. This method forces livestock to graze everything available, rather than selecting only the lush forage. What is not grazed is trampled into the ground. It is unlikely for any plant species to become dominant, and the sward remains diverse.

Cattle being Strip Grazed

No one plant species meets all requirements: A maintained diverse sward will bring many advantages, including plants that are rich in protein, have anthelmintic properties, deep roots for drought resistance and mining nutrients from deep in the earth, plus the ability to fix nitrogen. Maintaining a diverse sward increases self-sufficiency by building soil fertility and adding organic matter.

Strip grazing involves fencing off a small area (or strip) in your field and moving it regularly to allow access to fresh grass. The easiest way to set it up is with temporary electric fencing – how often you move this fencing will depend on decisions you make to cater for the requirements of your operation.

It’s best practice to move the fencing on both sides of the grazing area at the same time, so that the grazing strip moves across the field. This creates two areas…

  • grazing area – the section between the two fences that your animals can graze
  • resting area – the area that your animals have just grazed and an area where they can rest on without compromising grass not yet grazed.

 Diagrammatic representation of Strip Grazing

Why is strip grazing useful?

Strip grazing is ideal to protect your grass – it allows your pasture to rest and recover, which promotes healthy grass growth, specie biomass and over-population of weeds caused by overgrazing

What do you need for strip grazing?

Electric fencing is the best option for strip grazing because you’ll need to move it regularly. It’s lightweight, easy to move and inexpensive in comparison to more permanent options. We’ve rounded up everything you need to set up temporary electric fencing.

How to strip graze

  1. Set up the fencing in two lines across the field, making sure there’s enough space for the number of animals.
  2. When the grass has been eaten down, move the front fence line by a suitable distance to allow access to fresh grass. You now have the already grazed section and new section together.
  3. From now on you move both lines together so you have a new area and used area together. You will find the animals will utilise the used area to rest on.
  4. Continue in this way until you reach the end of the field and then begin again having assessed grass regrowth and replenishment factors.
  5. Tend to the recovering area.

 Strip grazing tips

  • Ensure the grazing strip is an appropriate size — too little space will put pressure on herd dynamics, while too much space will make it difficult to manage intake effectively.
  • Move the fencing regularly
  • Have some spare posts and tape handy in case of breakages
  • Use the growth of the rested area as a guide to how much your animals are consuming

 

 

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