Vegetative cover (VC; measure of living plant cover) and total cover (TC; measure of any soil cover, dead or alive) were estimated using a modified Step Point method (Evans and Love, 1956; Kenny et al., 2018) with 100 observations per pasture; in R pastures, this was accomplished by dividing these observations so that 25 measures were collected in each of the four sections. In any case, all but two horses remained below a BCS of 7, which is the threshold for overweight/obesity on the Henneke scale of 1 to 9. Grazing, the interaction between plant and animal, is inextricably linked to agricultural grasslands. Department of Animal Science, Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey. (2011). Excluding winter rest periods, the C horses were fed a total of 4,657.6 ± 299 kg hay and R horses were fed a total of 5,392 ± 1,260 kg hay. Both HEIGHT (Fig. If haymaking equipment had been available, this could have been an opportunity to preserve the forage as hay and realize a cost savings, as illustrated by Burk et al. The R pastures had higher proportions of vegetative and total cover, planted grasses (tall fescue and orchardgrass), and weeds but lower proportions of grass weeds (nonplanted grasses) and other (rocks, litter, bare ground, etc.) There was high VC, tall swards, and high herbage mass. Rotational grazing might seem like a very simple concept, however, this simplicity has great benefits for the entire ecosystem. A major goal is to provide quality pasture for the grazing animals throughout the grazing season. Jordan, S. A., K. R. Pond, J. C. Burns, D. T. Barnett, and P. A. Evans. On our farm, I like to utilize pasture-based systems for our animals that steward the land well and make my life easier. Alpha level was set at P < 0.05. The average length of grazing bouts was 10 d for each rotational section. The main finding from this study was that rotational grazing did result in improved pasture condition and quality but did not result in increased horse condition and reduced maintenance costs. (1984) also observed large decreases in cover extending up to 61 m away from a water source when used by horses and/or cattle. Therefore, the objective of this study was to compare the effects of rotational and continuous grazing on horse and pasture condition, and production costs in replicated pastures over multiple grazing seasons. The objective of this study was to compare the effects of rotational and continuous grazing on horse and pasture condition, and production costs in replicated pastures over multiple grazing seasons. Stewart et al. There were no significant differences between treatments for average monthly amount of hay fed or cost of pasture maintenance. It can also be more beneficial to the grass because the cows cant overgraze it if you are controlling when they get moved off of the grass. As discussed above for pasture condition, evaluating horses maintained under these grazing strategies over additional years will provide useful information to determine if rotational grazing offers long-term benefits for controlling weight and preventing deterioration of metabolic health in the grazing horse. In the R pastures, permanent shelters, water sources, and hay feeders were located within 0.17 and 0.16 ha (2R and 3R, respectively) stress lots (i.e., dry lots, sacrifice areas, exercise lots, etc.) Proponents call it farming grass. that were enclosed by permanent fencing; each R system was subdivided into four pasture sections (0.37 to 0.4 ha each) separated using temporary horse-friendly fencing (electric tape; Kencove Farm Fence, Blairsville, PA). 1Weather data obtained for the New Brunswick Station through the Office of the New Jersey State Climatologist website ( and When confined to the stress lots, horses were fed at 2% of BW, a feeding strategy designed to maintain BW. There was also a significant effect of month for both measures (P < 0.0001). Interactions were also tested. 2Chi-square (3 df, n = 9,600) = 184.6, P < 0.0001. Using the recommended equine stocking density to predict equine pasture management, Validating the alkane pair technique to estimate dry matter intake in equids, Grazing management impacts on vegetation, soil biota and soil chemical, physical and hydrological properties in tall grass prairie, The effects of rotational grazing on forage biomass yield and botanical composition of horse pastures, Growth of yearling horses managed in continuous or rotational grazing systems at three levels of forage-on-offer, Continuous vs. rotational grazing of cool season pastures by adult horses, Continuous vs. rotational grazing of cool season pastures during the summer months, Recovery of pasture forage production following winter rest in continuous and rotational horse grazing systems, Effects of grazing system, season, and forage carbohydrates on glucose and insulin dynamics of the grazing horse. Vegetative cover is an indicator of the proportion of green forage available to horses in a pasture, while TC includes any item which covers the soil, living or dead, and is a better indicator of soil condition and erosion risk (Herrick et al., 2009). Digestible energy, acid detergent fiber, and calcium were higher in R vs. C pastures; however, crude protein was lower in R vs. C pastures. MIRG is a system of pasturing animals to maximize pasture growth. 1Grasses (G) include the grasses that were planted (KB, OG, and TF), GW include any grasses not planted, weeds (W) include any nongrass plants, and other (O; includes anything else: bare ground, rocks, litter, etc.). Twelve Standardbred mares (initial age 14 ± 2 yr, BW 544 ± 47 kg [mean ± SD], and BCS 6.1 ± 0.47) were paired by initial BW and BCS and randomly assigned to either the R or C grazing systems. The objective of this study was to determine whether rotational grazing generates horse, pasture, or cost benefits over continuous grazing. Measures of pasture cover were also impacted by grazing management (R vs. C). 2; P < 0.0001) and average horse FAT (Fig. Our hypothesis was that utilizing rotational grazing management would result in increased horse condition; improved pasture condition and quality; and reduced overall maintenance costs. These bunch grasses are less tolerant of the frequent, close grazing observed in C pastures. Winter turnout of C horses influenced vegetation, as seen in sward height, herbage mass, and VC, which were reduced to lower levels in C pastures. Present study values fell within this range with the NDF being around 70% at the high end and as low as 40% during the early spring months, at which time most grasses were short and actively growing, while Fleurance et al. Martinson et al. When forage was tall, samples were clipped to 7 to 10 cm (grazing height) and when forage was less than 7 cm, samples were clipped at ground level to imitate horse grazing. However, the bulk of these studies were performed on rangeland rather than improved cool-season grass pastures such as those evaluated in the current study. The following year (2013), due to poor initial establishment, pastures were over-seeded with the same species at 3.6, 14.5, and 7.3 kg/ha of the same seed, respectively, to establish a better stand. Horse BW was measured using an IND221 electronic scale (Mettler Toledo, Columbus, OH), and BCS was assessed on a scale of 1 to 9 (Henneke et al., 1983). Other (O) represents all other vegetation (living or dead), plus bare ground, rocks, litter, etc. During this same timeframe, horses in C pastures essentially had ad libitum access to forage, as they were still allowed to graze pasture forage in addition to being offered supplemental hay. This is not considering any long-term maintenance that might be needed such as over-seeding, fertilization, or herbicide applications to bring C pasture up to the same pasture condition as the R pastures at the end of the study. In C pastures, forage yield only reached levels measured in R pastures after 9 mo of rest, and differences in species composition of pastures persisted throughout the duration of this recovery study (Weinert and Williams, 2018). Clippings were compiled, and one sample from each of the four fields was submitted for analysis each month. The treatment differences in nutritional composition are very curious. It was anticipated that C horses would require more hay than R horses due to diminished pasture conditions, but several factors contributed to this not being the case. In addition, TF is a highly persistent grass and typically OG is not as preferred by horses, which may have led to TF outcompeting the GW and OG not undergoing as much removal by horses (Martinson et al., 2015). Pros of rotational grazing can allow you to run more cows on less grass. The first monthly samples were collected in the first week of September 2014 following one full month of grazing. The young, rapidly growing plants seen in April are immature and contain a high level of nonstructural carbohydrates, which contribute to the high DE. The preponderance of research in other livestock species has found that adopting rotational grazing practices does not result in greater animal condition (summarized by Holechek et al., 1999; Briske et al., 2008). The disadvantages of rotational grazing include the need for more fence to be constructed, time required to move cattle, and the need to have water and access to shade from each smaller paddock. The C horses were fed 597 ± 34.1 kg and R horses were fed 659 ± 34.1 kg of hay per month on average during the months where hay was offered for the entire study duration. In conclusion, this study is one of the few exploring the impacts of rotational vs. continuous grazing of horses, and one of even fewer replicated, multiyear studies. Most previous studies have used other livestock animals, such as cattle and sheep, which have different grazing habits than horses. Agricultural grasslands are defined (Peeters et al., 2014) as land devoted to the production of forage for harvest by grazing/browsing, cutting, or both, or used for other agricultural purposes such as renewable energy production. If you leave animals on a piece of land for too long, they’ll eat down some of the grass to the dirt while other areas will be ignored and the grass will grow too tall to be palatable. Rotational Grazing Benefits: South Dakota Producer Perceptions. Aesthetics and human health benefits One of the greatest advantages to using rotational grazing is that it is a “peaceful way of farming.” The qualitative binary outcome for VC and TC was analyzed with a generalized linear mixed model using SAS PROC MIXED with binomial distribution, logit link, blocking by field, and including seasonal covariate month. In fact, horse BCS and FAT were lower in the rotationally grazed horses as compared with the continuously grazed horses. However, by establishing each pasture similarly, we can observe how much each pasture has deviated from a similar baseline and implement controls for pasture management practices allowing for a more direct comparison of production and species composition variables across pastures and grazing systems. Therefore, it is possible that the nutritional analysis of our randomly selected samples did not accurately represent the plants selected by the horses. New Jersey Agricultural Experiment Station, Office of Research Analytics, Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey, Department of Plant Biology and Pathology, Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey, Rotational grazing on rangelands: reconciliation of perception and experimental evidence, Field observations from the University of Maryland’s equine rotational grazing demonstration site: a two-year perspective, Prediction of incipient pasture-associated laminitis from hyperinsulinaemia, hyperleptinaemia and generalised and localised obesity in a cohort of ponies. Vegetative cover values during the grazing season were higher than those reported by Burk et al. When considering these data, it is important to note that the four pastures were initially similar. (2011) who harvested approximately 4,030 kg of hay from 2.08 ha of rotational pastures over 2 yr of grazing horses at a similar stocking rate as the current study. Planned Rotational Grazing: Strategic moves every 3 to 10 days to allow for rest and recovery in grazed pastures. Overall, the average monthly grazing days was greater for C (29.6 d) vs. R (14.1 d; P < 0.0001) over the course of the 27-mo study. Dividing up a pasture into paddocks to prevent overgrazing goes back to the earliest agr To explore the whole series click here . Monthly average temperature, total precipitation, and average relative humidity are listed in Table 2, historical monthly averages are listed in Table 3. For more details on the soluble carbohydrate differences in these systems and the effect on sugar metabolism in these horses, see a companion study, Williams et al. (2011) of 78 ± 3% and 80 ± 2% (years 1 and 2, respectively), which are still acceptable by the 70% rule. Teague et al. And that’s exactly what I did when I designed this pastured pigs rotational grazing system. Therefore, some months did not have all four sections measured, and the measures for each section were not always performed on the same day. Example: A beef cow herd of thirty 1300-pound cows with calves and one 2000-pound bull is used as an example to demonstrate the four steps to rotational grazing. Webb et al. Rotational grazing (also known as management-intensive grazing, MIG) differs from continuous grazing in that land is separated into smaller paddocks and the group of animals is moved regularly between paddocks. This suggests that the forage was least fibrous and most digestible during that time. Kentucky bluegrass is a rhizomatous sod-forming grass which better tolerates close grazing than bunch grasses (Martinson et al., 2015). Soil fertility was adjusted to optimum with lime and fertilizer, and pastures were seeded with Jesup MaxQ endophyte-friendly tall fescue (TF) (Festuca arundinacea; Pennington Seed, Madison, GA) at 7.9 kg/ha, Camas Kentucky bluegrass (KB) (Poa pratensis) at 12.9 kg/ha, and Potomac orchardgrass (OG) (Dactylis glomerata) at 8.2 kg/ha (both from Chamberlin & Barclay, Cranbury, NJ). The study established two replicates (1.57 ha each) of rotational (R; four grazing sections and a stress lot per replicate, where horses were fed a moderate quality grass hay at 2% of body weight when not grazing) and continuous (C) grazing systems (treatments). At the final measurement of the study, horse BW, BCS, and FAT were 562.8 ± 15 kg, 6.0 ± 0.16, and 18.1 ± 0.64, respectively, and were not significantly different from initial measures. The tall, fibrous stems are reported to be higher in ADF and NDF and lower in CP compared with perennial ryegrass stems (Stewart, 1996), and these stems would have been included with taller R forage samples. This distance was not recorded in the present study but is believed to be similar to observations of the C pastures. ( Log Out /  Rutgers University Office of the State Climatologist. Rotational grazing increases the utilisation of grass grown, which allows you to increase stocking density in comparison to a set stocked system – a benefit if grazing land is in short supply or you want to expand the herd. 6.3 Implement rotational grazing. Olson-Rutz, K. M., C. B. Marlow, K. Hansen, L. C. Gagnon, and R. J. Rossi. Tukey’s post hoc test was used to determine differences between the main effects. Virostek, A. M., B. McIntosh, A. Daniel, M. Webb, and J. D. Plunk. Pasture maintenance on C fields cost $17.55 ± 3.14 and on R fields cost $20.50 ± 3.14 per month on average over the entire 27-mo study duration including winter months when no maintenance was performed. Horse BW, BCS, and percent body fat (FAT) were measured monthly to determine the effect of grazing system on horse health. (2005) verified that bahiagrass (Paspalum notatum) under rotational grazing can produce more forage than under continuous grazing … Closer examination using t-tests reveals that R had higher proportions of OG and TF (P < 0.0001) while having a lower proportion of counts in the O category (P < 0.0001). Rotational grazing allows you to graze other livestock on a piece of land. Furthermore, Olson-Rutz et al. Data are shown as means and 95% CI. The difference in proportion of KB was not statistically significant. 3; P < 0.0001); however, no significant difference for BW. 1Continuously grazed fields are denoted “C” and rotationally grazed fields are denoted “R.” Values in the “Rotational subsections” column are the size of each of the four grazing units in that system; all four are equally sized. For outcome measurements on horses (i.e., BW, BCS, and FAT), repeated-measures ANCOVA was conducted, blocking by field, nested in horse, with seasonal covariate month. If you have not switched to rotational grazing for your pet friend yet, you will genuinely be surprised by what it has to offer in the long run. Compared with C, R had higher proportions of G and W and lower proportions of GW and O. The cost of maintenance on each system was compared by recording the number of times of each pasture unit mowed and dragged. Often times rotations are set. This study is one of few replicated experiments comparing the effects of rotational and continuous grazing for horses on pasture quality, horse condition, and production costs. Continuously grazed fields were mowed and dragged twice during the first grazing season, dragged in the early spring to disperse manure accumulated over the winter, and then mowed and dragged once in the summer to even forage height and control weeds. For average BCS and FAT, C horses (BCS 6.3 ± 0.05, 17.9 ± 0.15% FAT) were greater than R horses (BCS 5.9 ± 0.05, 16.8 ± 0.15% FAT). (2015) were reported for entire grazing seasons rather than monthly. and State Univ. Rotational grazing involves using small fields sizes, (or paddocks) to move stock frequently to provide a rest for the grass and reduce wastage. Webb et al. Singer, J. W., N. Bobsin, W. J. Bamka, and D. Kluchinski. However, in the present study, differences in BCS and FAT became more pronounced later in the study period, while samples for the sugar metabolism companion study (Williams et al., 2019) were collected only during the first full grazing season of this study (2015). The C horses were maintained on pasture for 100% of the study duration (844 d; August 1, 2014 to November 22, 2016), while R horses had access to pasture for approximately half of this time (408 ± 33 d). Change ), You are commenting using your Twitter account. This difference could be attributed to the fact that pastures evaluated in this prior study contained a mix of warm-season and cool-season forages. The forage quality in each grazing unit would initially be high, then would decrease as animals deplete the high-quality forage and are forced to consume the lower-quality forage that remains until they are rotated. Once R horses were returned to pastures, they required less hay or none at all, while C horses needed more supplementation due to the damage caused to their pastures over the winter. 1). Immediately after grazing (prior to the rest period), each pasture section was dragged (to disperse manure) and remaining ungrazed forage was mowed to a height of 10 cm during the grazing season. After looking at the monthly pattern, the authors believe this was either due to a sampling error or possibly the high temperatures coupled with the low rainfall in the 2 mo prior (July 15 = 54 and August 15 = 25% of historical averages). Data are shown as means and 95% CI. Therefore, in the first fall season there were few differences between treatments, and the C horses had adequate nutrition from pasture until October, when all horses received partial hay supplementation. (2009, 2011) also measured pregrazing herbage mass and found that a rotational grazing system produced higher yield over a 4-yr period than continuous grazing. The samples were weighed before and after drying at 65 °C for at least 36 h in a Thermocore oven to calculate dry matter (DM) and then ground to 1 mm using a Wiley Mill and sent to Equi-Analytical Laboratories (Ithaca, NY) for wet chemistry of DE, crude protein (CP), acid detergent fiber (ADF), neutral detergent fiber (NDF), water soluble carbohydrates (WSC), ethanol soluble carbohydrates (ESC), starch, Ca, and P on a DM basis. Help control weeds and manure build up ( approximately twice per growing season ) B.,. Of proportions is statistically significant shifts in species composition including weed growth 2 and (... At some point, this corresponds to a higher plane of nutrition for grazing horses precipitation than the historical.... Plus bare ground, rocks, litter, etc proportion of KB was immediate... H. F. 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