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ARS Home » Northeast Area » University Park, Pennsylvania » Pasture Systems & Watershed Management Research » Research » Publications at this Location » Publication #366514

Research Project: Multifunctional Farms and Landscapes to Enhance Ecosystem Services (Bridge Project)

Location: Pasture Systems & Watershed Management Research

Title: Choosing a grazing system: Mob vs. rotational

item Billman, Eric
item Andreen, Danielle (elle)
item WILLIAMSON, JESSICA - Pennsylvania State University

Submitted to: Progressive Forage Grower
Publication Type: Popular Publication
Publication Acceptance Date: 8/10/2019
Publication Date: 8/30/2019
Citation: Billman, E.D., Andreen, D.M., Williamson, J. 2019. Choosing a grazing system: Mob vs. rotational. Progressive Forage Grower. Pg 1.

Interpretive Summary: No Interpretive Summary is required for this Popular Publication. JLB.

Technical Abstract: Grazing management has come to be dominated by a handful of strategies over the last 50 years. Two of these, mob and rotational grazing, present stark contrasts in terms of methodology, along with the benefits and challenges for the plants, livestock, and producers reliant on them. A comparative 4-year field grazing study was conducted at the Pennsylvania State University Hawbecker Research Farm to determine advantages and disadvantages of both systems in the Northeast. Eight paddocks were arranged in a randomized complete block design with four replications, with odd numbered paddocks being mob grazed and even numbered paddocks being rotationally grazed. All grazing was conducted using yearling beef steers. Rotationally grazed paddocks were grazed between May and October each year, whenever sward height reached 25 cm, and mob grazed paddocks were grazed in June and September each year. Greater cumulative yield was observed (P < 0.10) for rotational grazing than for mob grazing during years 1, 3, and 4. Per-harvest mob grazing yields at concurrent time points with rotational grazing declined (P < 0.01) with each subsequent year of testing, eventually falling to similar levels as rotational grazing by the end of the trial. Pasture species compositions were altered significantly (P < 0.05 – 0.001) in both systems, with grasses persisting better under rotational grazing, and alfalfa persisting better under mob grazing. Negative effects on forage ADF, lignin, and TDN concentrations were observed (P < 0.10 – 0.001) under mob grazing. These finding suggest that rotational grazing offers a more desirable long-term management strategy in northeastern grazing systems, but mob grazing may prove suitable for producers wanting more short-term yield benefits.