Livestock should work for the farm

Jersey cows grazing in a field.

Today, we will be discussing conservation for livestock producers. Rotational grazing of livestock is one of the most economical and environmentally friendly practices someone can implement on their land. 


In the current economic climate, farmers and homesteaders alike are all looking at reducing expenses. Higher input costs such as diesel fuel, equipment and fertilizer are causing producers to reevaluate their business model and “push the pencil” to see if they are really making money or just trading dollars. 

I am a firm believer that everyone on the farm needs to “pull their weight,” and that includes the livestock. When placed in the proper environment, animals have the ability to feed themselves. It is a matter of efficiency — livestock should be working for the farm, not the farm working for the livestock. 

Everything that was old is new again

Don’t be afraid to try something new — or, I mean, old. Long before the pioneers traveled west and began to build fences, bison roamed the land and grazed the fertile prairies. 

The need for fresh grass and predators kept the animals grouped together and always on the move. Rotational grazing mimics nature by using fences and strategically placed watering systems to do the same. 

Where to begin

YouTube sensations, such as Joel Salatin and Greg Judy, have been rotationally grazing for years and have a treasure trove of videos for your viewing pleasure. There are also numerous “grassroots” groups such as the Eastern Ohio Grazing Council and the Ohio Forage and Grasslands Council that hold “on the farm” events that teach rotational grazing. 

In addition to these groups, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Natural Resource Conservation Service and many soil and water conservation districts employ folks that focus on rotational grazing, and design systems tailored to the farm. 

Closing remarks

So what’s the bottom line? It’s really simple math. Every day my animals are on pasture equals one day of savings on my feed bill. Rotational grazing is one of those unique farming practices that, when implemented and managed properly, works with nature to conserve natural resources, and also pays big dividends to the producer. 


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Joe Mayle is one of the agronomic/natural resources technicians with the Carroll Soil and Water Conservation District. He holds an associate’s degree in crop management from The Ohio State University/Agricultural Technical Institute. Contact him at 330-627-9852 or



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