What is Cell Grazing
Cell Grazing is a holistic time controlled grazing system based on adoption of at least the first three of the six principals listed below.
There are a number of grazing systems where stock are rotated. However, it is very important to recognise that there are significant differences between grazing systems where stock are rotated and Cell Grazing. Not all systems provide the same productivity or carbon sequestration benefits, due basically to level of intensity. Cell Grazing is derived from the rational grazing developed by Voisin and is the result of continuous and ongoing development overseas and in Australia since the 1940’s.
Cell grazing occurs when grazing management meets the following principles. The system is defined by principles rather than rules because it needs to be continually adapted to the individual circumstances. The following principles have been developed by RCS over the last 25 years based on experience in Australia, South Africa and the USA. The principles have evolved based on the experience of thousands of graziers on three continents.
The 6 RCS Regenerative Grazing Management Principles:
- PLAN, MONITOR and MANAGE GRAZING.
- Establish a grazing management plan where graze period is calculated based on rest period and number of paddocks resting, corrected for paddock area and inherent carrying capacity of each paddock.
- Monitor grazing period, cycle length, rest period, paddock yield, decision making and stocking rate using a Grazing Chart or equivalent.
- Plan for events such as drought, fire and flood and act on the plan. For example choose a date (known as a Critical Rain date) where destocking will commence if seasonal rains are lower or later than expected.
- PLANTS NEED ADEQUATE REST.
- Rest Period is a function of plant growth rate.
- Ensuring each paddock has adequate water and fence infrastructure to water and control large mobs.
- Manage grazing to maximise pasture growth and provide sufficient rest so as to promote greater root development and desirable pasture species.
- STOCKING RATE is adjusted to match CARRYING CAPACITY.
- Carrying Capacity (ground up SUPPLY) is the amount of feed produced.
- Stocking Rate (top down DEMAND) is the number of standard animal units used to consume the Carrying Capacity.
- Use a Grazing Chart or equivalent to plan and monitor both Stocking Rate and Carrying Capacity.
- Manage stock to avoid overstocking.
- Monitor herd structure, class and productivity.
- MANAGE LIVESTOCK EFFECTIVELY.
- Ensure sufficient water quantity and quality.
- Minimise the distance animals have to walk to feed.
- Monitor and manage animal health and nutrition and provide supplementation as required.
- Use low stress stock handling techniques for animal welfare and productivity.
- Optimise timing and duration of reproduction to match seasonal feed supply and demand.
- Match Stocking Rate to Carrying Capacity to optimize production.
- Don’t over rest plants so as to avoid lignification which will result in lower productivity.
- Avoid grazing when pasture yield is low to avoid low production.
- Maintain low utilization rates at each graze to avoid low production.
- APPLY MAXIMUM STOCK DENSITY for minimum time.
- Increased stock density is achieved by having high paddock numbers per herd.
- The higher the stock density (eg optimums are 60 head of cattle per ha or 450 sheep per ha), the shorter the graze period will be.
- MANAGE FOR BIODIVERSITY TO IMPROVE ECOSYSTEM SERVICES.
- Cell Grazing is fundamentally based on improving Ecosystem health and Services.
- Improving energy flow from sunlight, improving the water cycle and soil health will lead to an increase in biodiversity, soil carbon and ecosystem services.
- Maximise number of desirable pasture species, including trees and shrubs and diversity of all subterranean elements.