Pasture management is dependent on three basic areas of animal control:
- Control of the area to be grazed.
- Control of the number of animals to be grazed.
- Control of the grazing time.
These three controls are fundamental to any pasture management programme.
Control of the area to be grazed
Control of a grazing area is achieved economically with Gallagher power fence systems, using either permanent or portable fences. Fencing allows specific areas of pasture to be grazed, while ensuring other pasture areas rest and re-grow.
When a pasture is rested, the plants " tiller " or produce leafy shoots from the base of the plant. Tillering produces high quality, palatable pasture. To encourage these shoots to grow, regular but controlled grazing is required.
Control of the number of animal numbers to be grazed
This control factor determines the stocking density of the grazing area. The stocking density is the number of animals in a given grazing area for a stated point of time. Stocking density determines how efficiently the available pasture is grazed.
Control of the grazing time
Control of the grazing time, determines the annual production of the pasture area. It is important that the plants are not grazed down too low, as the leaves are required for the process of photosynthesis. Photosynthesis is vital for the plant itself to grow and feed its own root system. Good root reserves are needed to provide healthy tillering and leaf growth.
Pasture that is maintained at the tillering stage is young, lush, green pasture with high protein and high energy levels.
Farm animals have a very acute sense of taste and smell and will only eat pasture 4-6 weeks after dung and urine have been deposited.
Subdivision with high stocking density of pasture ensures animal manure is spread more evenly over the whole grazing area.
To achieve quality pasture rotational/controlled grazing is the preferred grazing method. Rotational/controlled grazing involves grazing paddocks in rotation by shifting the power fence regularly to allow the stock an allocated ration. The stock are contained by both a front and a back fence. The back fence protects the recently-grazed area to allow it to recover so it can be grazed again at a later stage.
Set stocking can also be used to successfully manage pastures, however, care must be taken to achieve the right balance between the number of animals contained in a grazing area and the length of grazing time. The grazing area or paddocks generally vary in size. Set stocking should be done for each, individual paddock. Large paddocks, can be fenced off into smaller more manageable grazing areas, with a portable power fence.