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ARS Home » Northeast Area » University Park, Pennsylvania » Pasture Systems & Watershed Management Research » Research » Publications at this Location » Publication #366668

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

Location: Pasture Systems & Watershed Management Research

Title: Mob or rotational grazing for pastures

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

Submitted to: Extension Fact Sheets
Publication Type: Other
Publication Acceptance Date: 8/10/2019
Publication Date: 8/13/2019
Citation: Billman, E.D., Andreen, D.M., Williamson, J., Soder, K.J. 2019. Mob or rotational grazing for pastures[abstract]. Extension Fact Sheets. P. 1.

Interpretive Summary: No Interpretive Summary is required for this 115. JLB.

Technical Abstract: Of the numerous grazing methodologies practiced by livestock producers, two conflicting strategies have come to dominate much of the industry. Rotational grazing involves the use of 4-5 week rest periods between grazing events with moderate stocking rates. This allows for optimum forage quality and consistent forage availability, without overstressing plant energy reserves. Conversely, mob grazing involves longer rest periods of 2-3 months, allowing substantial biomass accumulation that can provide feed for more animals. A 4-year grazing study was conducted to determine which method is best suited for Pennsylvania and northeastern production systems. Eight paddocks were planted with identical grass, legume, and forb mixtures, with four paddocks being rotationally grazed, and four being mob grazed. Rotational paddocks were grazed by beef steers six times per year, while mob grazing occurred only twice. Results indicated that mob grazing yields declined at a faster rate than rotational grazing, and that mob grazing yields were greater than rotationally grazed paddocks at equal points in time. Species composition was also altered, with grasses being more persistent under rotational grazing, and legumes being more persistent under mob grazing. Forage quality was superior under rotational grazing due to the presence of less mature plant tissue from shorter rest periods. Producers should be aware that while mob grazing offers substantial yield benefits early on, these yields dramatically decline over time, and forage quality is inferior to rotational grazing.