Joel Salatin of Polyface Farm on Bloomberg TV

Discussion in 'The big picture' started by nomadcanuck, Jul 14, 2009.

  1. nomadcanuck

    nomadcanuck Junior Member

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    I saw Joel Salatin (sp?) interviewed on the magazine show "Venture" on Bloomberg TV on Sunday. He talked about the methods he uses at his farm in the USA and how it is a healthy business both in terms of product and earnings.

    He raises livestock without any of the chemicals or industrial horrors associated with modern meat production.
     
  2. hozzy

    hozzy Junior Member

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    Re: Joel Salatin of Polyface Farm on Bloomberg TV

    Cool, I saw an add for an interview of farmers on the BBC that were using "old methods" for producing food. It made me excited. If they are interviewing people on these topics, there has to be thousands doing it that don't get interviewed.
     
  3. SueinWA

    SueinWA Junior Member

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    Re: Joel Salatin of Polyface Farm on Bloomberg TV

    Joel Salatin is a rarity in larger-scale farming -- he watches nature, thinks, and puts them together with a lot of common sense. He has several good books on farming available:

    Everything I Want to Do Is Illegal: War Stories from the Local Food Front

    You Can Farm

    Salad Bar Beef

    Pasture Poultry Profits

    Holy Cows and Hog Heaven

    Family Friendly Farming

    Polyface Farm DVD
     
  4. heuristics

    heuristics Junior Member

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    Re: Joel Salatin of Polyface Farm on Bloomberg TV

    This article was written by Joel Salatin:
    An Aggressive Approach to Controlled Grazing
    TALL GRASS Mob stocking.
    Reprinted from Acres USA May 2008 • Vol. 38, No. 5


    Prepare to be shocked. Most of us controlled grazing aficionados have been grazing the forage when it’s too short. In the last few years, we switched our farm to a much taller sward, and the results are nothing
    short of remarkable.
    Question: If you were cutting corn silage . . . Wait, let me rephrase that, since hopefully very few Acres U.S.A. readers make corn silage: If your neighbor were cutting corn silage, how mature would the corn be when it was cut?
    Think about corn as a glorified grass. It is, you know. Would it be cut before tasseling? Before an ear formed?
    Of course not. Why? Because corn silage, as a fermentation product, needs starch for the process.
    Fermentation is all about sugars. And it takes time for a grass to move from protein to sugar.
    Imagine in your mind’s eye that corn plant ready for silage cutting. The tassels are completely shattered.
    Ears are full and plump. The leaves are green, but the base of the stalk has already turned brown, perhaps up 12-18 inches from the soil horizon. The plant is clearly mature, not growing any more. At all.
    Now imagine, in your mind’s eye, what orchard grass, switchgrass, fescue or bluegrass, would look like at that same stage of maturity. Would there be seed heads? Yes. Would it be browning down at the base of the tallest stems? Yes. Would it be too mature to graze? No. In fact, it would be just right.
    By now most farmers and officialdom — I can see you through these pages — are jumping up to object in protest, “But, but, but, that’s too mature! Everyone knows you need to graze early while the plant is completely succulent, like candy. And hay should be mowed in early boot stage, before the seed head appears.”
    Yes, I know, I know. I’ve heard it all before. In fact, I’ve even proclaimed it all before. And now I believe it’s a bunch of bunk.
    How did I arrive at my change of mind? Several years ago a neighbor asked us to rent his farm.
    It was more than twice as big as ours, so it moved us from our normal 200-head mixed herd to more than 400.
    Because the previous renter dilly-dallied exiting the place, we could not get fences and water lines installed before
    our spring busy time. Everything had to wait until later in the season, and by the time we actually moved cattle over there, it was June. By the time we grazed around the last fields, it was nearly September.
    You can imagine what those fields looked like. The forage was bleached brown. The understory was full of second-growth, greener grass. It was like a jungle, and nearly impossible even to walk through. Neighbors were confident this landlord had made a huge mistake in renting his farm to us. It looked like a wreck from the conventional grazing mindset. No matter that these continuous- grazing neighbors, at that time of year, had scalped their pastures to the soil level and their cows were actually losing some weight every day, unseen to the naked eye.
    We went into that jungle with a mob of 400 head, giving them a smidgen more than 1.5 acres per day. Every day we moved them to the next paddock. The grass was so rank we had to bushhog the crossfence lines just so the cows could see the fence. In 24 hours, after being mob grazed, those paddocks had so little standing forage that a mouse would have to pack lunch in order to get anywhere. The cows didn’t eat everything, but what they didn’t eat, they stomped, chipped, and shredded onto the soil surface so completely that not a stem was left standing. Oh, did I mention that this farm had thistles?
    Lots and lots of thistles. Not one was left standing after this mob did their thing.
    But more interesting to us, as herdsmen, was the way the mob responded.
    This was no longer a group of individuals.
    The mob became like a giant amoeba. When they were hungry, not an animal mowed or bellowed. They just
    stood, patiently waiting for us to move them into the next paddock. Even if it took a couple of hours to set things up, the whole mob just waited contentedly, chewing cud, while we worked around them.
    And their manure, the key to monitoring animal health, was perfect. If manure is splattery, like sheet cake, it indicates too rich a diet, like candy bars. If the manure consists of “cookies” — little hard disks stacked up — it indicates too coarse or fibrous a diet. What you want is a “pumpkin pie” — perfectly round, slightly sunken in the middle and raised on the edges. That’s exactly what this manure looked like. Of course, most of the clumps were splintered and scattered by hoof action.
    The animals looked extraordinarily fat. They possessed a bloom that we were unaccustomed to. We expected them to fall apart and were concerned about how much of a wreck we could stand as we freshened up these rank fields. What we got instead was a remarkable performance from the stock and a landscape change nothing short of miraculous.
    Subsequent grass growth resembled what follows an application of chicken litter. The dark-green, rich sward indicated a flush of biological activity stimulated by the infusion of lignified carbon.
    We had never seen this response after grazing grass at what is considered the appropriate length. As it turns out, others around the world, taking controlled grazing to another permutation, have discovered the identical response we witnessed, from Chad Peterson in Nebraska to Greg Judy in Missouri to Abe Collins in Vermont.
    The new term is Ultra High Stock Density UHSD) grazing, and it is definitely forming the ragged innovative edge of controlled grazing.
    The general consensus, articulated perhaps best by Terry Gompert, Extension forage specialist in Nebraska, is that bovines need starch more than protein.
    After all, these are walking fermentation vats, and fermentation thrives on sugar. Pigs and chickens require far more protein than bovines and other herbivores. Young, vegetative, succulent, tender grass blades are high in protein and low in carbohydrates, or energy. As the plant matures, it concentrates energy. We follow that principle carefully in selecting corn maturity for good silage fermentation, but generally throw the same concept out the window when it comes to harvesting our forages at their energy peak. That is why I like the corn parallel.
    It shows easily and graphically the disconnect between how we harvest corn and how we harvest grass for maximum energy. The goal is the same. Both are feeding a fermentation process; one inside the cow and the other outside.
    These days when people ask me what I do for a living, I reply: “Mob-stocking herbivorous solar conversion lignified carbon sequestration fertilization.” Certainly not as concise as “organic,” but definitely more apt to stimulate a lively conversation. All we’re trying to do is mimic the grazing patterns of herbivorous herds throughout the world. By cutting around that pattern, like a template, and placing it over our commercial
    domestic production acres, we tap into all the soil-building and carbon-cycling principles creating fertility in the perennial grasslands of the world.
    Utilizing forages higher on the physiological expression point has increased our cow-days per acre by up to 50
    percent. In practical terms, this means grazing a given square yard only three times per year rather than six times per year (in our climate). In a brittle climate, it might mean grazing a paddock one time per year rather than two. The point is that longer rests punctuated by more violent herd impact generates more solar-
    accumulated biomass that can either be consumed and excreted via manure and urine, or directly decomposed via
    hoof-stomp shredding.
    Rather than thinking we’ve arrived when stocking at 30,000 pounds of liveweight per acre on a given grazing, we
    stock at 200,000 pounds of liveweight per acre. In order to do that, the sward must be rested long enough to accumulate massive amounts of vegetation.
    Some people, such as Chad Peterson mentioned above, are moving the herd multiple times per day in order to increase the mobbing. Because a mob reduces individuality, it stimulates aggressive, less-selective grazing habits. The cows learn to graze with reckless abandon because whatever is on the plate ahead of them is gone by
    the time they come back. This aggressive grazing is a primal instinct that herbivores must relearn. When we buy calves from a neighbor, they find the mob highly stressful at first because the only time they’ve ever been that close to other individuals is in a corral — and normally the corral is not a place where enjoyable things happen to cattle.
    During the newcomers’ assimilation phase, it’s helpful to either reduce the mob size or give extra space for a few
    days while new introductions become comfortable being close to other individuals.
    Aggressive grazing soon becomes normal behavior, however, and this creates two positive consequences.
    First, the animals become less selective. They don’t have the time or opportunity to be picky about which plants
    they eat. The result is more even mowing and a tremendous reduction in normally ungrazed plants. This pushes succession of the good species ahead. Visitors to our farm are often amazed when I tell them we haven’t planted a seed in 50 years. No plow, no disk, no planter, no nothing.
    And yet 50 years ago we could walk the entire farm without stepping on a plant — that much dirt was between the pasture plants. We grew thistles like a crop, picked buckets of dewberries, and could have cultivated broom sedge seeds as a cash crop. None of those plants can be found today in our pastures.
    Second, aggressive grazing makes the animals fill up faster. Since an herbivore only makes meat or milk when chewing cud, we want to maximize rumination time and minimize grazing time.
    The faster the animal grazes and fills its fermentation tank, the sooner it will lie down and begin chewing cud. The mob encourages this rapid engorging and actually makes the animal more productive.
    Perhaps the most beneficial result of this ultra-high stock density is the organic matter added to the soil via fully
    developed root mass that naturally occurs when a plant reaches phenotypical maturity. Adolescent plants do not form the pounds and miles of plant material below the soil that mature ones do. The mob shocks the plant into shedding much of that mass to concentrate (selfprune) the energy reserves into sending forth new shoots. The resultant flush of organic matter dwarfs even the aboveground manure and urine load.
    This pasture pulsing, very much like a heart beat, is like CPR for the soil and its myriad inhabitants. Plants self-direct their bilateral symmetry above and below the soil horizon. When I see that sea of waving tall forage, in my mind’s eye I see an equal sea of root hairs loosening and feeding the soil food web. It’s a wonderful picture.
    Now I know why Allan Savory and the wonderful Holistic Management folks constantly preach herd amalgamation. A small herd (I’d say anything under 100) simply cannot duplicate the nutrient cycling that is possible with a mob. The larger the mob, the more it synergizes all these positive elements.
    Many cattle producers fear amalgamation during breeding because close relatives might breed — but remember,
    nobody is out separating males and females in wild herds. Plenty of interfamily genetic hanky-panky goes on out
    there, and the offspring seem to do OK.
    Nobody is making sure the big buck that bred in western Virginia last year gets moved to Ohio so he doesn’t breed his daughters.
    Amalgamation creates significant efficiencies because every herd needs a front fence, a back fence, a water trough and mineral box whether it’s 20 head or 500. The economies of scale drive down infrastructure and labor costs.
    The most serious negative we’ve seen in mob grazing is that it is less forgiving to the bottom enders. In a smaller herd, lower performance animals don’t get As the plant matures, it concentrates energy. We follow that principle carefully in selecting corn maturity for good silage fermentation, but generally throw the same concept out the window when it comes to harvesting our forages at their energy peak.
    rooted back as much, whether for blades of grass, a spot at the water trough, or a minute at the mineral box. In a multihundred- member herd, the weaker animals fall behind more dramatically. We’ve found that if we run the herd through the corral once a month and pull off the stragglers, placing them in a smaller herd, these animals normally catch right up and can eventually be returned to the big mob. We view them as students needing some remedial education, perhaps a tutorial to catch up.
    Of course, running a multi-hundredmember mob creates new pressure on water systems. It’s one thing to deliver
    water to a Rubbermaid tank for 100 head on a hot July afternoon. It’s quite another thing to deliver water to 500 head on that same afternoon. Upsizing piping, pumping, and using full flow valves is essential to an efficacious water delivery system. We now use 11/4-inch trunk lines and a 300- gallon Rubbermaid tank spliced by the
    cross fence. That way about five animals can drink at a time, and the bigger tank holds more reserve.
    The mob, being always close to water, drinks intermittently rather than as a group.
    Moving into the next paddock can be a challenge with such a big group, as well. Rather than simply opening a cross fence back to the first portable post and letting the herd file ahead, we use one of the following techniques.
    Often we go to the reel end and roll up the front fence as fast as we can walk to let the mob flood forward behind us. The key is to roll up wire fast enough to stay ahead of the first comers, who inevitably turn into the paddock. If you don’t stay ahead of them, the late comers will turn around and run along in their old paddock
    all the way to the handle end of the old front fence (now the back fence).
    The other technique, which we use regularly, is to take a bluff fence (nonelectrified, highly visible polytape, for
    example) and make a 50-yard long by 15- or 20-yard wide alley into the new paddock. When I open the gate handle
    end, I pull it around to the alley and this keeps the flow of the mob going forward rather than doubling back into the center of the new paddock and causing the problem mentioned above — latecomers running along the old side of the front fence and unable to get into the new paddock. This alley technique only takes about 10 minutes to construct, but saves countless hours in moving time.
    One obvious exception to all of this taller grass grazing is early spring, before the grass has time to grow enough. Few models enjoy perfect implementation.
    The single most profit-affecting act in cattle rearing is to minimize feeding stored feedstuffs. The less hay we feed, the more profitable the operation. This goal overrides everything in the spring, and we begin grazing as soon as the blades are long enough to eat. Huge paddocks; extremely light stocking and fast moves
    cover half the acreage in three weeks.
    We try to avoid doing this on the same paddocks every year, and the paddocks we graze too early usually become
    the winter stockpiled areas. What we take away at one time we give back at another time of the year. The point is to be aware when we cheat, and give back extra to those areas later on. Everything should submit to lower hay feeding. I used to fret about getting the late spring flush grazed in time to make sure it was freshly regrown for mid-summer.
    Now I don’t worry about it. If I don’t get to it and it practically turns into brown standing hay, so what! The mob will eat half of it and stomp the other half into the ground. Nature fertilizes the soil with lignified carbon, not green vegetable matter. Leaves don’t fall when they’re green; they fall when they’re brown and stiff. Grass doesn’t lodge when it’s green; it falls over when it’s brown and brittle.
    Nature feeds soil with mature, lignified carbon that places meals on top, not knifed in or plowed in.
    This taller grass grazing frees me from feeling like I just have to get on that paddock before it’s over-mature.
    Instead, I simply restrict the mob tighter and tighter and let it do its magic. A visitor to our farm in June will often see 80 head on a quarter acre for a day. Animals respond beautifully to this management because it simulates the million-head, wolf-surrounded mob of yesteryear.
    I am convinced that most controlled grazing, historically, has been touching paddocks too frequently on too short a forage sward. By reducing the grazings and letting the sward accumulate more biomass in a more mature state, all parties at the grazing table win: earthworms, cattle and farmer. Here’s to the next level.
    Joel Salatin raises grass-fed beef, pastured poultry, rabbits and more on Polyface Farm, a model diversified farmstead in Virginia’s Shenandoah Valley. He is the author of many books on sustainable farming, all available from the Acres U.S.A. bookstore.

    Acres U.S.A. is the national journal of sustainable agriculture, standing virtually alone with a real track record — over 35 years of continuous publication. Each issue is packed full of information ecoconsultants regularly charge top dollar for. You’ll be kept up-to-date on all of the news that affects agriculture — regulations, discoveries, research updates, organic certification issues, and more.
    To subscribe, call
    1-800-355-5313
    (toll-free in the U.S. & Canada)
    512-892-4400 / fax 512-892-4448
    P.O. Box 91299 / Austin, TX 78709
    [email protected]
    Or subscribe online at:
    www.acresusa.com






    Prepare to be shocked. Most of us controlled grazing aficionados have been grazing the forage when it’s too short. In the last few years, we
    switched our farm to a much taller sward, and the results are nothing
    short of remarkable.
    Question: If you were cutting corn silage . . . Wait, let me rephrase that, since
    hopefully very few Acres U.S.A. readers make corn silage: If your neighbor were
    cutting corn silage, how mature would the corn be when it was cut?
    Think about corn as a glorified grass. It is, you know. Would it be cut before
    tasseling? Before an ear formed? Of course not. Why? Because corn silage, as a
    fermentation product, needs starch for the process. Fermentation is all about
    sugars. And it takes time for a grass to move from protein to sugar.
    Imagine in your mind’s eye that corn plant ready for silage cutting. The tassels
    are completely shattered. Ears are full and plump. The leaves are green, but
    the base of the stalk has already turned brown, perhaps up 12-18 inches from the
    soil horizon. The plant is clearly mature, not growing any more. At all.
    Now imagine, in your mind’s eye, what orchard grass, switchgrass, fescue or
    bluegrass, would look like at that same stage of maturity. Would there be seed
    heads? Yes. Would it be browning down at the base of the tallest stems? Yes.
    Would it be too mature to graze? No. In fact, it would be just right.
    By now most farmers and officialdom — I can see you through these pages —
    are jumping up to object in protest, “But, but, but, that’s too mature! Everyone
    knows you need to graze early while the plant is completely succulent, like candy.
    And hay should be mowed in early boot stage, before the seed head appears.”
    Yes, I know, I know. I’ve heard it all before. In fact, I’ve even proclaimed it all
    before. And now I believe it’s a bunch of bunk.
    by Joel Salatin
    Tall Grass
    Mob Stocking
    An Aggress ive Approach
    to Controlled Grazing
    Reprinted from May 2008 • Vol. 38, No. 5
    How did I arrive at my change of
    mind? Several years ago a neighbor
    asked us to rent his farm. It was more
    than twice as big as ours, so it moved us
    from our normal 200-head mixed herd
    to more than 400.
    Because the previous renter dilly-dallied
    exiting the place, we could not get
    fences and water lines installed before
    our spring busy time. Everything had
    to wait until later in the season, and by
    the time we actually moved cattle over
    there, it was June. By the time we grazed
    around the last fields, it was nearly September.
    You can imagine what those fields
    looked like. The forage was bleached
    brown. The understory was full of second-
    growth, greener grass. It was like
    a jungle, and nearly impossible even to
    walk through. Neighbors were confident
    this landlord had made a huge mistake
    in renting his farm to us. It looked like
    a wreck from the conventional grazing
    mindset. No matter that these continuous-
    grazing neighbors, at that time of
    year, had scalped their pastures to the
    soil level and their cows were actually
    losing some weight every day, unseen to
    the naked eye.
    We went into that jungle with a mob
    of 400 head, giving them a smidgen
    more than 1.5 acres per day. Every day
    we moved them to the next paddock.
    The grass was so rank we had to bushhog
    the crossfence lines just so the cows
    could see the fence.
    In 24 hours, after being mob grazed,
    those paddocks had so little standing
    forage that a mouse would have to pack
    lunch in order to get anywhere. The
    cows didn’t eat everything, but what they
    didn’t eat, they stomped, chipped, and
    shredded onto the soil surface so completely
    that not a stem was left standing.
    Oh, did I mention that this farm had
    thistles? Lots and lots of thistles. Not
    one was left standing after this mob did
    their thing.
    But more interesting to us, as herdsmen,
    was the way the mob responded.
    This was no longer a group of individuals.
    The mob became like a giant
    amoeba. When they were hungry, not
    an animal mowed or bellowed. They just
    stood, patiently waiting for us to move
    them into the next paddock. Even if it
    took a couple of hours to set things up,
    the whole mob just waited contentedly,
    chewing cud, while we worked around
    them.
    And their manure, the key to monitoring
    animal health, was perfect. If
    manure is splattery, like sheet cake, it indicates
    too rich a diet, like candy bars. If
    the manure consists of “cookies” — little
    hard disks stacked up — it indicates too
    coarse or fibrous a diet. What you want
    is a “pumpkin pie” — perfectly round,
    slightly sunken in the middle and raised
    on the edges. That’s exactly what this
    manure looked like. Of course, most of
    the clumps were splintered and scattered
    by hoof action.
    The animals looked extraordinarily
    fat. They possessed a bloom that we were
    unaccustomed to. We expected them
    to fall apart and were concerned about
    how much of a wreck we could stand as
    we freshened up these rank fields. What
    we got instead was a remarkable performance
    from the stock and a landscape
    change nothing short of miraculous.
    Subsequent grass growth resembled
    what follows an application of chicken
    litter. The dark-green, rich sward indicated
    a flush of biological activity stimulated
    by the infusion of lignified carbon.
    We had never seen this response after
    grazing grass at what is considered the
    appropriate length.
    As it turns out, others around the
    world, taking controlled grazing to another
    permutation, have discovered the
    identical response we witnessed, from
    Chad Peterson in Nebraska to Greg Judy
    in Missouri to Abe Collins in Vermont.
    The new term is Ultra High Stock Density
    (UHSD) grazing, and it is definitely
    forming the ragged innovative edge of
    controlled grazing.
    The general consensus, articulated
    perhaps best by Terry Gompert, Extension
    forage specialist in Nebraska, is that
    bovines need starch more than protein.
    After all, these are walking fermentation
    vats, and fermentation thrives on sugar.
    Pigs and chickens require far more protein
    than bovines and other herbivores.
    Young, vegetative, succulent, tender
    grass blades are high in protein and low
    in carbohydrates, or energy. As the plant
    matures, it concentrates energy. We follow
    that principle carefully in selecting
    corn maturity for good silage fermentation,
    but generally throw the same
    concept out the window when it comes
    to harvesting our forages at their energy
    peak. That is why I like the corn parallel.
    It shows easily and graphically the
    disconnect between how we harvest corn
    and how we harvest grass for maximum
    energy. The goal is the same. Both are
    feeding a fermentation process; one inside
    the cow and the other outside.
    These days when people ask me what
    I do for a living, I reply: “Mob-stocking
    herbivorous solar conversion lignified
    carbon sequestration fertilization.”
    Certainly not as concise as “organic,”
    but definitely more apt to stimulate a
    lively conversation. All we’re trying to
    These days when people ask me what
    I do for a living, I reply: “Mob-stocking
    herbivorous solar conversion lignified
    carbon sequestration fertilization.”
    Reprinted from May 2008 • Vol. 38, No. 5
    do is mimic the grazing patterns of herbivorous
    herds throughout the world. By
    cutting around that pattern, like a template,
    and placing it over our commercial
    domestic production acres, we tap into
    all the soil-building and carbon-cycling
    principles creating fertility in the perennial
    grasslands of the world.
    Utilizing forages higher on the physiological
    expression point has increased
    our cow-days per acre by up to 50
    percent. In practical terms, this means
    grazing a given square yard only three
    times per year rather than six times per
    year (in our climate). In a brittle climate,
    it might mean grazing a paddock one
    time per year rather than two. The point
    is that longer rests punctuated by more
    violent herd impact generates more solar-
    accumulated biomass that can either
    be consumed and excreted via manure
    and urine, or directly decomposed via
    hoof-stomp shredding.
    Rather than thinking we’ve arrived
    when stocking at 30,000 pounds of liveweight
    per acre on a given grazing, we
    stock at 200,000 pounds of liveweight
    per acre. In order to do that, the sward
    must be rested long enough to accumulate
    massive amounts of vegetation.
    Some people, such as Chad Peterson
    mentioned above, are moving the herd
    multiple times per day in order to increase
    the mobbing.
    Because a mob reduces individuality,
    it stimulates aggressive, less-selective
    grazing habits. The cows learn to graze
    with reckless abandon because whatever
    is on the plate ahead of them is gone by
    the time they come back. This aggressive
    grazing is a primal instinct that herbivores
    must relearn. When we buy calves
    from a neighbor, they find the mob
    highly stressful at first because the only
    time they’ve ever been that close to other
    individuals is in a corral — and normally
    the corral is not a place where enjoyable
    things happen to cattle.
    During the newcomers’ assimilation
    phase, it’s helpful to either reduce the
    mob size or give extra space for a few
    days while new introductions become
    comfortable being close to other individuals.
    Aggressive grazing soon becomes
    normal behavior, however, and this creates
    two positive consequences.
    First, the animals become less selective.
    They don’t have the time or opportunity
    to be picky about which plants
    they eat. The result is more even mowing
    and a tremendous reduction in normally
    ungrazed plants. This pushes succession
    of the good species ahead. Visitors to our
    farm are often amazed when I tell them
    we haven’t planted a seed in 50 years. No
    plow, no disk, no planter, no nothing.
    And yet 50 years ago we could walk the
    entire farm without stepping on a plant
    — that much dirt was between the pasture
    plants. We grew thistles like a crop,
    picked buckets of dewberries, and could
    have cultivated broom sedge seeds as a
    cash crop. None of those plants can be
    found today in our pastures.
    Second, aggressive grazing makes the
    animals fill up faster. Since an herbivore
    only makes meat or milk when chewing
    cud, we want to maximize rumination
    time and minimize grazing time.
    The faster the animal grazes and fills
    its fermentation tank, the sooner it will
    lie down and begin chewing cud. The
    mob encourages this rapid engorging
    and actually makes the animal more
    productive.
    Perhaps the most beneficial result of
    this ultra-high stock density is the organic
    matter added to the soil via fully
    developed root mass that naturally occurs
    when a plant reaches phenotypical
    maturity. Adolescent plants do not form
    the pounds and miles of plant material
    below the soil that mature ones do. The
    mob shocks the plant into shedding
    much of that mass to concentrate (selfprune)
    the energy reserves into sending
    forth new shoots. The resultant flush of
    organic matter dwarfs even the aboveground
    manure and urine load.
    This pasture pulsing, very much like
    a heart beat, is like CPR for the soil and
    its myriad inhabitants. Plants self-direct
    their bilateral symmetry above and below
    the soil horizon. When I see that sea
    of waving tall forage, in my mind’s eye I
    see an equal sea of root hairs loosening
    and feeding the soil food web. It’s a wonderful
    picture.
    Now I know why Allan Savory and the
    wonderful Holistic Management folks
    constantly preach herd amalgamation. A
    small herd (I’d say anything under 100)
    simply cannot duplicate the nutrient
    cycling that is possible with a mob. The
    larger the mob, the more it synergizes all
    these positive elements.
    Many cattle producers fear amalgamation
    during breeding because close
    relatives might breed — but remember,
    nobody is out separating males and females
    in wild herds. Plenty of interfamily
    genetic hanky-panky goes on out
    there, and the offspring seem to do OK.
    Nobody is making sure the big buck that
    bred in western Virginia last year gets
    moved to Ohio so he doesn’t breed his
    daughters.
    Amalgamation creates significant efficiencies
    because every herd needs a
    front fence, a back fence, a water trough
    and mineral box whether it’s 20 head or
    500. The economies of scale drive down
    infrastructure and labor costs.
    The most serious negative we’ve seen
    in mob grazing is that it is less forgiving
    to the bottom enders. In a smaller herd,
    lower performance animals don’t get
    As the plant matures, it concentrates
    energy. We follow that principle carefully
    in selecting corn maturity for good silage
    fermentation, but generally throw the
    same concept out the window when it
    comes to harvesting our forages at their
    energy peak.
    Reprinted from May 2008 • Vol. 38, No. 5
    rooted back as much, whether for blades
    of grass, a spot at the water trough, or a
    minute at the mineral box. In a multihundred-
    member herd, the weaker animals
    fall behind more dramatically. We’ve
    found that if we run the herd through
    the corral once a month and pull off
    the stragglers, placing them in a smaller
    herd, these animals normally catch right
    up and can eventually be returned to
    the big mob. We view them as students
    needing some remedial education, perhaps
    a tutorial to catch up.
    Of course, running a multi-hundredmember
    mob creates new pressure on
    water systems. It’s one thing to deliver
    water to a Rubbermaid tank for 100 head
    on a hot July afternoon. It’s quite another
    thing to deliver water to 500 head on that
    same afternoon. Upsizing piping, pumping,
    and using full flow valves is essential
    to an efficacious water delivery system. We
    now use 11/4-inch trunk lines and a 300-
    gallon Rubbermaid tank spliced by the
    cross fence. That way about five animals
    can drink at a time, and the bigger tank
    holds more reserve. The mob, being always
    close to water, drinks intermittently
    rather than as a group.
    Moving into the next paddock can
    be a challenge with such a big group, as
    well. Rather than simply opening a cross
    fence back to the first portable post and
    letting the herd file ahead, we use one of
    the following techniques.
    Often we go to the reel end and roll up
    the front fence as fast as we can walk to
    let the mob flood forward behind us. The
    key is to roll up wire fast enough to stay
    ahead of the first comers, who inevitably
    turn into the paddock. If you don’t stay
    ahead of them, the late comers will turn
    around and run along in their old paddock
    all the way to the handle end of the
    old front fence (now the back fence).
    The other technique, which we use
    regularly, is to take a bluff fence (nonelectrified,
    highly visible polytape, for
    example) and make a 50-yard long by
    15- or 20-yard wide alley into the new
    paddock. When I open the gate handle
    end, I pull it around to the alley and this
    keeps the flow of the mob going forward
    rather than doubling back into the
    center of the new paddock and causing
    the problem mentioned above — latecomers
    running along the old side of the
    front fence and unable to get into the
    new paddock. This alley technique only
    takes about 10 minutes to construct, but
    saves countless hours in moving time.
    One obvious exception to all of this
    taller grass grazing is early spring, before
    the grass has time to grow enough. Few
    models enjoy perfect implementation.
    The single most profit-affecting act in
    cattle rearing is to minimize feeding
    stored feedstuffs. The less hay we feed, the
    more profitable the operation. This goal
    overrides everything in the spring, and
    we begin grazing as soon as the blades
    are long enough to eat. Huge paddocks;
    extremely light stocking and fast moves
    cover half the acreage in three weeks.
    We try to avoid doing this on the
    same paddocks every year, and the paddocks
    we graze too early usually become
    the winter stockpiled areas. What we
    take away at one time we give back at
    another time of the year. The point is to
    be aware when we cheat, and give back
    extra to those areas later on. Everything
    should submit to lower hay feeding.
    I used to fret about getting the late
    spring flush grazed in time to make sure
    it was freshly regrown for mid-summer.
    Now I don’t worry about it. If I don’t get
    to it and it practically turns into brown
    standing hay, so what! The mob will eat
    half of it and stomp the other half into
    the ground. Nature fertilizes the soil with
    lignified carbon, not green vegetable
    matter. Leaves don’t fall when they’re
    green; they fall when they’re brown and
    stiff. Grass doesn’t lodge when it’s green;
    it falls over when it’s brown and brittle.
    Nature feeds soil with mature, lignified
    carbon that places meals on top, not
    knifed in or plowed in.
    This taller grass grazing frees me
    from feeling like I just have to get on
    that paddock before it’s over-mature.
    Instead, I simply restrict the mob tighter
    and tighter and let it do its magic. A visitor
    to our farm in June will often see 80
    head on a quarter acre for a day. Animals
    respond beautifully to this management
    because it simulates the million-head,
    wolf-surrounded mob of yesteryear.
    I am convinced that most controlled
    grazing, historically, has been touching
    paddocks too frequently on too short a
    forage sward. By reducing the grazings
    and letting the sward accumulate more
    biomass in a more mature state, all parties
    at the grazing table win: earthworms,
    cattle and farmer. Here’s to the next level.
    Joel Salatin raises grass-fed beef, pastured
    poultry, rabbits and more on Polyface Farm,
    a model diversified farmstead in Virginia’s
    Shenandoah Valley. He is the author of many
    books on sustainable farming, all available from
    the Acres U.S.A. bookstore. Polyface Farm will
    host a special Field Day on July 12. For more
    information, see page 27 of this issue.
    Reprinted from May 2008 • Vol. 38, No. 5
    Acres U.S.A. is the national journal of
    sustainable agriculture, standing virtually
    alone with a real track record — over 35
    years of continuous publication. Eash
    issue is packed full of information ecoconsultants
    regularly charge top dollar
    for. You’ll be kept up-to-date on all of
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    To subscribe, call
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    Or subscribe online at:
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  5. david spicer

    david spicer Junior Member

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    Re: Joel Salatin of Polyface Farm on Bloomberg TV

    fantasic stuff
    I did a keyline line course with darren doherty last year and he talked about joel ,but this article is great
    ,my first job was droving with 500 head of cattle, so when joel talks about the mob not being selective about what and when they eat I can understand but the way he explained it is so clear now why they behaved like that as opposed to cattle in the paddock.
    yea really made the whole cell grazing idea clear
     
  6. SergioSantoro

    SergioSantoro Junior Member

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    Would someone know how to get in touch with Joel Salatin? Him or anyone, really. I read all the articles about high density stock grazing, but they are all about people who already had pastures and were already grazing, and they say how to transition. Myself, I live in a property in Northern Costa Rica that was acquired 3 years ago, and everything is claimed out of the forest. We have 10+ acres of slopy deforested pastures and 9 cows. Everything about our situation is peculiar. The place where I live is an organic farm/hindu monastery. Nothing commercial, we keep our cows for milk and because we love them. We would never sell them to a slaughter house, and we are about to start a herd of miniature jersey/zebus, that are supposed to still give a lot of fat milk, but require less land. Still our pastures need a lot of attention. On another permaculture forum they told me that a pasture is just another monoculture, which made me think a lot. My dream so far is to back hoe the hills a little bit and make a series of swales and berms, then increment the number of grasses and leguminous (I read up to 20 or 40 each, so there is always something growing all year around), have interspersed medicinal plants, maybe a living fence, and now I've read about Joel Salatin or Greg Judy. What I would like to know is in how big an area could I cram our 3 horses and 8 cows (I guess the bull will always be separate), how often to rotate, and if even with this method I need to count on one hectar per adult cow. Like I said, we have around 7 areas for grazing, plus two rice/bean fields where the cows can eat and poop after the harvest. That makes between 10/15 acres. Also, our pastures are for the most part weeds, and I mean stumps of bushes that keep shooting back. Would I have to uproot each one of them or is there a way to plant all those grasses and make it work?
    Thanks, if anyone has any feedback.
     
  7. eco4560

    eco4560 New Member

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    Try giving them a call - contact details here.
    I'm not a pastoralist, but I don't see why pasture has to be a monoculture. If you are growing a mix of grasses, rotating your stock, and having a mixed farm rather than only pasture, then I think you no longer qualify as a monoculture. Try telling Joel Salatin his place in a monoculture and see how that goes down!
     

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